Thursday, February 29, 2024

Featuring Lynne Thompson, Los Angeles Poet Laureate Emerita (2021-2022)

Melinda Palacio, City of Santa Barbara Poet Laureate

 (an earlier version of this column was published in the Santa Barbara Independent)


A poetry connection I’ve made over the years is with Lynne Thompson, the 2021-2022 Poet Laureate for Los Angeles. I have had the pleasure of reading with Lynne over the past fifteen years. Lynne is the daughter of Caribbean immigrants. To close Black History Month and with permission from the poet, I’d like to share some of Lynne Thompson’s poems here. Her lush poems are playful, sexy, and thought provoking. Of her poetry, Natasha Trethewey says, “Thompson is a poet who revels in language.” Do you have a favorite Lynne Thompson poem? 

 

 

START WITH A SMALL GUITAR

Lynne Thompson

(previously published in Start with a Small Guitar, What Books Press 2013)

 

although you already know:  this was never a real guitar.

What you hear is the melody once resident inside you

and you know this too:  it’s only my silhouette you see

dancing, dancing.  Step into this splendid suggestion or

flotsam.  Then are those my eyes, filling, or yours?

 

 

 

or        start again with a small guitar

 

 

 

Of course, you already know:  this was never a real guitar.

But here are all of my fingers longing to coax its duende.

What you hear is the melody once resident inside you as it escapes, suddenly, and I am there just in time to pluck it

 

 

 

From the innocent air & slip it around my wrist like a cuff.

You must know this too:  it’s only my silhouette you see

Dancing, dancing.  Step into it:  this splendid suggestion,

this flotsam.  Then, are those my eyes, filling?    Yours?

 

 

 

 

I ASK THE MALAGASY

Lynne Thompson

(from Beg No Pardon, Perugia Press 2007)

 

 

Where are my ancestors buried?

    In the feathers of a yellow bird.

 

How do you remember me?

    As seven wishes.

 

Where will I find the shape-changers’ magic?

    In fields of hydrangea.

 

Who teaches your tantara?

    A fox behind closed doors.

 

Where are your elephant birds?

    In ruby and absinthe afternoons.

 

And where is the sawfish beak?

    In the dayshine of trees.

 

How deep is your river Betsiboka?

    Twelve earthquakes deep.

 

What time did your soil turn red?

    When calves bent their knees . . . . .

 

 

ELEGY FOR THE RED DRESS

Lynne Thompson

(from Beg No Pardon, Perugia Press 2007)

 

 

 

Good morning, Red Dress,

double strand of pearls, faded rose

perfume clinging to the bodice,

the slip, the silk of the sleeve;

molten to my hips, my breasts, 

the drum of my heart, hem

softly pleated to a permanent party. 

 

 

Hello and hey there, Red Dress—

heavy with seat

of Love Wants to Dance.  Scented

with hopes of Shy Man, Bold Man,

Begged-to-take-you-home Man.

Still crumply down the back

From the hanker in their hands.

 

 

 

BALLAD FOR YESTERDAYS

Lynne Thompson

(from Beg No Pardon, Perugia Press 2007)

 

 

 

 

Buzzing like a hawk over high

cotton—in a trance—I saw you

 

where human lust is electrical, all 

gyration and heartbreak, a July’d

 

moon and sun. Drowsy with beauty,

we spooned in sweet, fallow fields so

 

which of us is more mad?    (Or is this

melancholy just a corn cob dipped 

 

in red roux?)  Still, we were lovebirds.

Perhaps we invented our own jazz;

 

Sweets, we were mornings’ glitter.

And yes, there were afternoons of scat,

 

of bee-bop.  But there is no loving that

won’t splinter from itself and we know

 

time is just a honey dripper. Yet, I’m all 

dreams and hunger all these years later.

 


 

 

Elysian Fields in the Suburbs

                                                                                          

Palisades Park, Santa Monica, painting by Daniel Alonzo

    I was about ten years old, so it must have been 1957, a casual Sunday at the "Park," or Stoner Recreation Center, they call it today, a small Elysian oasis surrounded by post-WWII stucco homes, in a neighborhood known as Sawtelle, a diverse community in the greater West Los Angeles area. The "Park" was just down the street from the home my parents purchased in 1954, for something like $10,000, on the G.I. Bill. Most communities had them – “parks,” that is, but according to sociologists, not nearly enough for a city the size of Los Angeles.

     It was probably the same in most American cities, the dearth of recreational public space, even the great New York, without Central Park, a wasteland of public spaces, mostly kids stuck in concrete jungles, with shabby basketball courts tucked away between old brownstones. Ask the kids. They knew how to get find the parks. At least, that’s how it was for us out west.

     In L.A.’s working-class westside, Santa Monica, south of tony Wilshire boulevard, the kids had Memorial and Jocelyn parks, and a little way south, along the border with L.A., there was Pen Mar Park and Mar Vista Park, and a few miles to the west was Oakwood, in Venice. Culver City had Mar Vista Gardens and, another, Memorial Park. East toward the wealthier communities of Rancho Park and Cheviot Hills, they had the mother of neighborhood parks, across the street from the Twentieth Century movie studios, Cheviot Hills Rec Center, a park with its own mountain and pine trees, long stretches of grass, an archery range and dog park.

      In the 1950s, parks were a big deal, a kid’s Eden, an escape from school and problems at home. At many of the parks in Los Angeles, the city built Olympic size swimming pools, monstrosities, so swimmers from around the world had a place to practice for the 1932 Olympics.

     At Stoner Park, the “Big Pool,” we called it, was packed with teenagers jumping from the tower and the diving board, their hollers of ecstasy echoing across the fields and tennis courts. The smallest kids, under their mother’s watchful eyes, ran and splashed in the “little” pool, a large, round cement pond, barely two feet deep in the center.
The also played on the swings and jungle gym, while older men, my dad’s age, mostly WWII veterans, reformed pachucos now responsible for families, hid beer wrapped in brown paper bags as they sat on the large boulders in the Japanese Garden, dubbed the “Rocks,” shaded by tall elm, sycamore, cedar trees.

     This particular Sunday, our artificial Eden was shattered by violence. I was playing with friends out by the "little pool" area when the chaos broke out. Big kids, high schoolers, some a little older, in “tricked out,” Chevys and Fords, sped into vacant spots, their brakes screeching. Before anyone knew it, these guys were chasing other guys through the park. Some wore jackets, their club names and insignias splashed across the back.

     They were serious. I remember one guy taking a thick chain from the back of a lowered, yellow pick-up, a decorated metal plaque, “Falcons, W.L.A.” in the back window. A few cars sported the plaque Cobras, Santa Monica, out their back windows. It all happened fast, guys fist fighting, sometimes two guys duking it out, one on one, knuckles cracking into bony jaws, other times three on one, a guy on the ground covering his face with his arms, rolling around, as two guys kicked him. The guy with the chain swung it over his head and chased another guy. I heard some yell out, “Godfrey, the cops!” The other side of American culture.

     Mothers scooped up their kids and, quickly, shuttled them off to safe spaces, their fathers running over to help. People rushed in from everywhere to watch. From a distance came the sirens, just like that, a few minutes later, black and white LAPD pulled up, officers pouring out.

     The guys fighting tried to scatter, but not before getting in a few last punches and kicks. I saw a football fly through the air. All of the guys who had been fighting were calling out to each other, like friends, and it didn’t matter whether they were Falcons or Cobras. They gathered in a wide-open grass area, and, as if they’d rehearsed it, took up various football positions, and started running plays, tackling each other hard.

     The cops grabbed some guys who tried running from the park, tossed them up against a chain link fence, and handcuffed them, but, for the most part, LAPDs finest didn’t seem to be in a hurry. It was like they enjoyed the chaos, watching these kids go at each other, even laughing at them. A few cops decided to stroll up to the car clubbers-turned grid iron stars and started questioning them. 

     “Gang fight! What, us?” 

     I moved in close to get a good look. The guys on the field, blood oozing from cuts on their faces, the corner of their eyes and mouths, played dumb when a cop asked, “What about you?” One “clubber’s” long blonde pompadour had gone flat, but his ducktail survived the ruckus. The kid tapped at the blood on his cheek and said he’d been hit hard trying to run up center, or some such ridiculous excuse. When the cops threatened to arrest them, the clubbers started vouching for each other, saying they’d been there the whole time, playing tackle, and didn’t “know nothing about no gang fight.”

     Sure, the cops knew they were lying, but what could they do if nobody wanted to finger the other guys? The cops told them to beat it, get the hell out of the park, and not ruin a Sunday for decent people trying to have a good time. I could hear muffled laughs as the guys walked off, opposite club member giving each other dirty looks, but, I guess, respecting each other for not ratting. These were the days before American culture turned gun crazy. A man's mettle was in his fist, even if a chain might be dangling from it, or a switchblade in its clutches.

     Oh, like kids in every American city, even, as young as ten, I’d heard about gang fights, heard my older teenage cousins talk about them. Guys would meet-up for fist fights, after school, at the park, often in the “Rocks,” like the time a guy named David Arujo fought Ryan O’Neil to a standstill. Right, that O’Neil, he of movie star fame. Santa Monica and University High schools filled with the kids from the elite side of town.

     It was a time when Hollywood blasted television dramas, like Marlon Brando in the Wild One, Glen Ford in the Black Board Jungle, or re-runs of the 1930s and ‘40s, gangster movies, romanticizing rebel culture, an integral part of American culture, life on the open range, so to speak, the “Wild, wild west,” but what we saw on a calm Sunday afternoon, wasn’t a movie. This was the real deal, real blood, kids getting hurt. The noises still ring in my head.

     It was a strange period on the 1950s westside, different, than say, East L.A. or Pacoima, where car clubs were already segregated into ethnic groups. On the westside of L.A., there was a mixture of ethnicities, White boys, Mexicans, and Japanese, barely a handful of African Americans, except in Santa Monica and Venice, where they congregated in their own neighborhoods, or mixed with Mexican. So, the car clubs, and the rowdy rebels, were more like the kids in James Dean’s Rebel without a Cause, more whites than Mexicans, even.

      One of my cousins told me the only reason the Mexican even started their own car clubs was because the Whites started getting selective about who the let in. The Cobras and Falcons were in transition, still a mixture of whites and Mexicans.

     Where I’m going with all this? I have no idea, but only to say that the Elysian fields and Edens, Americans like to portray to the rest of the world, never “was,” or “were.” The wonderful sounding “Make American Great Again” slogan, is pure propaganda. American never was great, no greater or worse than any other developed country, and I can point to a few members of my family who succumbed to the myth to prove it. hell, even Paris and Madrid have better parks than we do, unless you play golf. 

     No one out-beats us in the number of golf courses, but that's, as they say, another story for another time. For now, I'll just keep enjoying the solitude of the "Rocks."

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

IT FEELS LIKE FAMILY / SE SIENTE COMO FAMILIA



By Diane de Anda

Illustrations by Roberta Collier-Morales


 

ISBN: 978-1-55885-990-6

Publication Date: May 31, 2024

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 32

Imprint: Piñata Books

Ages: 5-9

 

This bilingual picture book explores children’s resiliency in the face of divorce, while emphasizing the importance of extended family. 

 

Elena and Miguel’s parents don’t live in the same house anymore. Now the kids live in two, Mami’s during the week and Papi’s on weekends. “At first,” Elena says, “it felt like I left half of me behind each time I changed houses. And it didn’t feel like family anymore.”

 

Elena wonders if Rico the cat misses Papi; surely, he too senses the change. At the movie theater, only three share the big tub of popcorn. The kids help their mom pick the oranges off the tree, something their dad used to do. On weekends, Papi makes pancakes for them, but they’re not quite like the ones their mom makes. “It doesn’t feel like family anymore.”

 

Gradually, the siblings begin to adjust to their new lives. At birthday parties, they’re surrounded by relatives and “in the circle of cousins, it felt like family again.” And when all four grandparents and both parents cheer Elena on at her soccer game, their obvious pride in her feels even better than the points she scored. “It feels like family!” This bilingual picture book for young readers explores a difficult subject experienced by many children—divorce and the resulting changes in their lives—while highlighting the importance of relationships with extended family members.

 


 

DIANE DE ANDA is the author of numerous books for young readers that feature Latino themes and families. Her picture books include The Patchwork Garden (Arte Público Press, 2013), The Day Abuelo Got Lost (Albert Whitman & Company, 2019) and Mango Moon (Albert Whitman & Company, 2021), winner of a Paterson Prize for Books for Young People and a Skipping Stones Honor Award.  Her books have received numerous awards and been named to multiple recommended reading lists such as the New York Public Library’s Best Books in Spanish and the Bank Street College of Education’s Best Children’s Books. A retired UCLA professor who prepared social workers to help kids and their families, she lives in Los Angeles.

 

ROBERTA COLLIER-MORALES has illustrated numerous books for kids, including Sofi Paints Her Dreams / Sofi pinta sus sueños (Piñata Books, 2019) and Salsa (Piñata Books, 1998). A member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, she lives and works in Longmont, Colorado.

 


Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Weekend of Arte and Poetry: Chicanarte Blossoms Again

Wondrous Weekend of Arte: Poetry and Paintings and People

Michael Sedano 


The penultimate week of February 2024 arrives with a sense winding down the interminable drag of the GOPlague. Around here, Southern California exhibits slow evolution from masked fear to unmasked "what, me worry?" fatalism.

All this caca began in 2019, remember? People caught the sniffles and before anyone could stop it hospitals set up morgues in the parking lot to handle the bodies. And the then-president scoffed at wearing masks and shirked the common defense. Here we are now, emerging into a bright blossoming cornucopia of events that bespeak a cultural explosion after the Dark Ages of the GOPlague.

My weekend begins on Thursday with a spur-of-the-moment drive to Riverside. Heavy freeway congestion on the Westbound side makes us happy to drive Easterly on spacious lanes exceeding 70 miles per hour and being passed by Teslas but keeping pace with fleets of sixteen wheelers hauling freight out to the boonies.

"The Cheech" (link) has become the definitive museum of Chicanismo en Arte, and has made itself a travel Destination. The art museum has given gente a reason to make the drive or take the trainride from anywhere in Southern California. The place is freeway close to you-name-it; for example, it's about seventy miles from L.A. airport to the Cheech. The famous Mission Inn Hotel and Spa sits across the street.

Judithe Hernández' exhibition at the Cheech should motivate visitors from across the world to lay down a pittance for tickets to the show. Almost everyone who loves Chicanarte knows at least one Hernández work. The Cheech show offers a cornucopia of new-to-my-eyes work, and hangs the artist's series pastels together, weaving a context of artistic greatness.

If Le Louvre pursued a policy of hanging only the best exemplars from its collection, then one could compare the Parisian pyramid to the Riverside former library. The Cheech hangs singular work, each piece the best of its genre, or the best the artist produced when the comic actor acquired it. 

At the Judithe Hernandez 50-year retrospective exhibition, every work is her best, but some are super-best. Visitors will need a day or more to release the energies that build up strolling from gallery to gallery, wall to wall, picture to picture. In fact, a single visit won't be enough to fill one's appetite for sublime perfection, which describes each work and the entire exhibition.

My Cheech visit was Thursday. Friday, I enjoyed the work of Sargent Claude Johnson at the Huntington Library. Johnson is the West Coast connection to the Harlem Renaissance and merits wider attention. Then  comes the week's moveable feast of arte: Saturday, Huizache Poets at  La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, Sunday, Altadena Co-Poet Laureate Carla Sameth at Underdog Books, the second "we're back!" show at the beloved CM2Art (AKA ChimMaya). 

I have no record of numerous places and events I missed this weekend, owing to time and distance concerns. I couldn't get to Kansas City, San Anto, Omaha, Denver, Seattle, Dinuba, Lerma, Phoenix, and all those localidades where the Chicano Renaissance is blossoming while we watch. I don't know what went down pa'lla, so I hope La Bloga-Tuesday's weekend in greater Los Angeles mirrors the weekend in your localidades, or shall, once your weather turns Springlike. 

La Chicano Renaissance, this time, is actual, sabes? We're back. Mira nomás the rewards of a single week.

Foto Gallery of Arte and Artistas
Judithe Hernández | Beyond Myself, Somewhere, I Wait for My Arrival

The Cheech divides the massive second floor into a series of galleries to gather thematic works into a coherent presentation of theme and chronology, uniting work long kept apart in private collections or in the artist's archive. 

Beyond Myself, Somewhere, I Wait for My Arrival is the museum's first major retrospective. 
The show hangs only a smattering smaller frames. For the most part, Hernández works in satisfyingly large scale and the curator hangs the work with ample white space for browing contemplation.
This foto gallery makes no attempt to reproduce the glory of the work. Fotos offer only faint echoes of the actual power a viewer feels in each work. Even if one attends the show--now through August 4, 2024--visit the artist's website (link) to view high quality photographs and the artist's curation of her work
As if to mock expectations of a masterful creator of female bodies, (and illustrate the impotence of a digital foto in ambient light), the most sensual drawing in the retrospective is a male body, The Surrender of Adam. Even the high-res foto on Hernández' website can't fully evoke sensations drawn by an ineluctable power imbued by color, texture, and depth in the 30" x 44" pastel on paper and deep within your vision. 

Hernández' work demands viewers step back see the entirety of a narrative.  A closer look always discloses fine details that are there for those who have eyes to see but could be bypassed in a stepped-back perspective.
Foto Gallery of Arte and Artistas
Huizache Poets At LAPCA
LA has two "plazas" so it's vitally important to keep them straight. Plaza de la Raza refers to LA's venerable arts institution in Lincoln Park. It's beside a lake and across from County Hospital. Over by Olvera Street, "the birthplace of Los Angeles" and site of the 1871 Chinese Massacre, LA's newest cultural jewel has taken a firm hold on cultura Chicana Mexicana and all things raza art and culture from comida to painting to poetry to festivales. La Plaza asserts itself as LAPCA, and that's where Huizache Poets shared an engaging afternoon reading.

Hosted by Carribean Fragoza, the reading reminds literary aficionados, Huizache (link), the definitive journal of Chicano Literature, Huizache, is back in business.
Fragoza, with husband Romeo Guzman, founded SEMAP, the El Monte Arts Posse. Dedicated "artivists" in print and person. SEMAP sponsors Casa Zamora as a refuge for youth. La Bloga will share more information on the posse in the future. (Posse link)

Ximena Martin Director of Programs nd Culinary Arts introduces the event, held in La Cocina de Gloria Molina, across the street from the main museum grounds. The space is a professional kitchen where Hendon brings in chefs who guide enrollees in food lore, technology, and good eating.
Huizache, founded by Dagoberto Gilb in Texas, has emigrated to the Golden State's UC Davis and  professor Maceo Montoya. In past issue release events, Hector Tobar hosted a blow-out party at his house in northeast Los Angeles hill country. It's a semi-good thing the guest list did not show up for this outstanding reading in a smallish space. 
UC Davis, and Montoya, bring back Huizache after a short hiatus. Marking the return with an innovative publishing decision, Montoya folds-out the dust jacket of the magazine revealing a poster of Helena María Viramontes along with a rollcall of the issue's other contributors. The magazine's editorial policy welcomes writers of all experiences, from debuts to notable and honored guests, like Viramontes.

Huizache magazine's web masthead (link) puts the reading into historical perspective and introduces those reading today: "Since 2011, Huizache has been at the forefront of Latinx literature and art, its goal be the preeminent magazine of Latinx literature, focusing on innovative prose and poetry. Today, Huizache’s legacy of finding writers who challenge the status quo and reimagine our world continues.

Poets participating in the reading are: Audrey Harris Fernández, who has been published in Sunstone, Párafo, and elsewhere; Manuel Paul López’s books include “Nerve Curriculum,” “These Days of Candy,” “The Yearning Feed,” and “Death of a Mexican and Other Poems”; Michael Jaime-Becerra, author of “This Time Tomorrow,” a novel awarded an International Latino Book Award; and Vanessa Diaz, who has been published in The Acentos Review, Dryland Lit, Kweli, and Huizache magazine. "
Michael Jaime-Becerra
Vanessa Diaz
Audrey Harris Fernández
Manuel Paul López
Sunday Afternoon In Monrovia: Carla Rachel Sameth Book Release - Secondary Inspections 
In a conversation with a friend of hers, Carla Rachel Sameth forecast a small audience for the inaugural reading of her first full-length poetry collection, Secondary Inspections. The friend-of-hers and I walk into the narrow confines of Underdog Books to find shoulder-to-shoulder SRO ears turned to the lights at the end of the tunnel that comprises the entirety of the Monrovia, California independent bookseller.

Co-host, IamRomaine Washington, begins the program with a call-and-response poem evoking Martin Luther King, Jr.'s career. Washington raises her Left arm and the audience calls out "tell me about it!". The poet raises the Right arm and we shout an outrage, "Arrested!"
"Tell me about it!" invites the next stanzas and another call. It's a useful technique to warm-up the group while encouraging keen listening to hear that cue. The reading creates a being-in-becoming community of voices. Convivial people listen with their hearts and ears.
Bonnie S. Kaplan's selection, "HELLO 1919" is published in the upcoming Altadena Poetry Review, edited by Peter J. Harris and published by Golden Foothills Press.
Sameth's first selection, Love letter to a burning world opens the book Secondary Inspections. The poem exemplifies what the publisher calls the major themes of the collection, "the life of the mother with loss and nuance as the book’s central figure." Poems share intimate details in an autobiographical voice colored with a mother's and a daughter's stresses and obligations.
Praise the dark that covers us with ashes, 
this morning’s tears, reminding us why we cherish
the not-burning baby cry of awake, not heartbreak. 

Mom, I need a hug, please, 
I just can’t seem to do anything right. 
Raphael, the angel name, should we have birthed
a warrior instead, one who could fight the demons?
 

 
AKA ChimMaya, CM2Art: Collector's and Artist's Favorite Hangout
Way back in history, sixteen years ago, in fact, ever since ChimMaya art gallery (link) opened on the border of Los Angeles and East Los Angeles, there've been a whole lot of Chicanos Chicanas Chicanx, artists and collectors, counting on the cultural oasis hidden among a string of anonymous small businesses.

Along with Northeast LA's Avenue 50 Studio, ChimMaya formed a dual hub for acquiring Chicanarte. The galleries are where the region's finest established artists hung alongside debut artists strutting their stuff on the route to the establishment.

A ChimMaya Opening event drew a starry lineup of gente from the OGs of arte to kids seeing, for the first time, real art in a real gallery setting, among raza glitterati. ChimMaya was itself a star.

Then hard times in 2019 and real estate pressure led to ChimMaya's abandonment of its prime corner location on Beverly Blvd, followed by a fits-and-starts of a new home that did not come to fruition. It was joyous news, late in 2023, when the new ChimMaya opened with astounding success. The community was hungry for what only art hanging on the walls can feed.

With year 2024 comes a second show at ChimMaya's second location, now dubbed CM2Arts. Still on Beverly Blvd, people know to arrive tempranito to get a good look at the work. Soon, familiar faces will fill the room and conversation and laughter create un ambiente saludable and everyone's glad they're here.
Maja enjoyed a mind-boggling show of his mixed-media mastery only a few weeks ago at Avenue 50 Studio, that other hub of L.A. raza art.

ChimMaya, AKA CM2Arts, isn't showing Maja tonight, so the painter-sculptor-jeweler is here to support his peers. I use our meeting to remonstrate Maja for being surrounded by admirers at that other show so I did not get a chance to saludar him, as I am today. He says "I know, but what can I do?"
 
Miriam, aka Rebozos de Miriam, greets a long-time-no-see friend.
Vibrant canvases provide an enriching background for animated platica.
Rick Ortega, a master realist painter, has several new masterpieces in the show. A friend is inspecting Ortega's bookmark gift from Abel Alejandre, a noted engraver on wood and linoleum. Ortega showed me fotos of a work-in-progresss, an oil portrait of a noted LA artist that Ortega will unveil soon. Details confidential until the unveiling.
There's more to a foto than meets the eye. Stephen Williams, Isabelle Rojas-Williams, former Executive Director of the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles and a noted art historian, and Armando Duron, whose family art collection currently is on view at the Monterey Art Museum until April, converse with this animated speaker, a noted abstractionist, Linda Arreola (link). Arreola unfailingly supports her fellow artists, attending shows, buying art, a ready conversationalist.

The support doesn't work both ways with curators eschewing Arreola's architectural expressions as "not Chicano" enough, or at all. Chicanos have been doing American Art all our lives and raza gallery-goers accustomed to figurative and impressionist work deserve to see exquisite quality work like Arreola's sublime abstract paintings. It's not a matter of taste but opportunity and exposure.

First Stop At LAPCA
Seeing is believing, there's no substitute for in-person enjoyment, and that's a possible shortcoming of the museum-going experience. You gotta be there at the right time, or it's over.

Art institutions understand that an exhibition is ephemeral, here today, gone soon. Museums publish exhibition catalogs to preserve a show on paper. LAPCA now has copies of Arte Para La Gente, the eponymous catalog of Margaret Garcia's 2023 retrospective exhibition at LAPCA.

On the walk to La Cocina and the Huizache reading, I stopped at the signing table for Garcia's autograph on my copy of the catalog. The catalog is so hot off the presses, LAPCA's online store hasn't yet put the book on sale!

The catalog features exceedingly high quality color reproductions on heavy coated paper. Textual components offer critical insights along with Garcia's and Margaret's husband's Rhett Beavers' personal insights.
Margaret Garcia displays the personalized autograph to her friend Rosamaria Marquez, director of Rock Rose Gallery, a northeast LA  arts incubator and community resource. Foto: LAPCA Facebook.

Monday, February 26, 2024

El Día Internacional de la Mujer de 2024 por Xánath Caraza

El Día Internacional de la Mujer de 2024 por Xánath Caraza

 


El Mes de la Historia de la Mujer se celebra cada año en marzo. Cada 8 de marzo se destaca esta fecha como el Día Internacional de la Mujer para reconocer contribuciones intelectuales, políticas, familiares y de activismo social en las respectivas comunidades donde muchas mujeres viven.  La historia ha pasado por alto, olvidado, reprimido, mal informado, no reconocido los logros de muchas mujeres a lo largo de los años, de los siglos, no solo en este país sino en todo el mundo.

Gracias a la perseverancia de tantas mujeres activistas, estas voces junto con sus aportaciones a la sociedad han salido a la superficie y han ido ganando terreno para ser reconocidas públicamente y alcanzar igualdad. 

No en todos los países somos afortunadas de poder honrar estos logros y de reconocer a tantas mujeres que han abierto brecha para cada una de nosotras.  Muchas se han quedado en el camino, otras han experimentado desapariciones forzadas, otras, experimentan violencia doméstica, social o pobreza. Para mí es un honor poder celebrar cada año ese día, el 8 de marzo, el Día Internacional de la Mujer, que nunca doy por sentado.

 Este 2024, para el Día Internacional de la Mujer, El Dialogue Institute y la Asociación Estudiantil de Diálogo Intercultural de la Universidad de Missouri celebrarán una lectura de poesía en Zoom el viernes 8 de marzo de 7 a 8:15 p.m. CST.

Las presentadoras que formarán parte de este evento son Flor Lizbeth Cruz Longoria, DaMaris B. Hill y la que escribe.  Flor Lizbeth Cruz Longoria es una flautista que radica en la Ciudad de Kansas y DaMaris B. Hill es ensayista y narradora radicada en Kentucky.  Para los que no me conocen, soy poeta, narradora y traductora. 

 

Flor Lizbeth Cruz Longoria

DaMaris B. Hill

Xanath Caraza
Espero, queridos lectores de la Bloga, que disfruten de este evento para el Día Internacional de la Mujer el próximo 8 de marzo de 2024 de 7 a 8:15 p.m. CST. Habrá que registrarse por adelantado.


Friday, February 23, 2024

New Books - Early Spring

Highlighting a handful of new books coming your way:  fiction, memoir, poetry, and a surprise from a master.

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Yaguareté White
Diego Baez

University of Arizona Press - February 20

[from the publisher]
In Diego Báez’s debut collection, Yaguareté White, English, Spanish, and Guaraní encounter each other through the elusive yet potent figure of the jaguar.

The son of a Paraguayan father and a mother from Pennsylvania, Báez grew up in central Illinois as one of the only brown kids on the block—but that didn’t keep him from feeling like a gringo on family visits to Paraguay. Exploring this contradiction as it weaves through experiences of language, self, and place, Báez revels in showing up the absurdities of empire and chafes at the limits of patrimony, but he always reserves his most trenchant irony for the gaze he turns on himself.

Notably, this raucous collection also wrestles with Guaraní, a state-recognized Indigenous language widely spoken in Paraguay. Guaraní both structures and punctures the book, surfacing in a sequence of jokes that double as poems, and introducing but leaving unresolved ambient questions about local histories of militarism, masculine bravado, and the outlook of the campos. Cutting across borders of every kind, Báez’s poems attempt to reconcile the incomplete, contradictory, and inconsistent experiences of a speaking self that resides between languages, nations, and generations.

Yaguareté White
is a lyrical exploration of Paraguayan American identity and what it means to see through a colored whiteness in all of its tangled contradictions.

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Ojo en Celo/Eye in Heat
Margarita Pintado Burgos

Alejandra Quintana Arocho - Translator
University of Arizona Press - February 27

[from the publisher]
Aflame with desire, the eye conjures, dreams, invents itself, sees what it wants. The eye sees what it is able to see.

Ojo en celo / Eye in Heat brings into sharp relief the limits of our gaze. It shows us what it is to escape the mirror and move beyond mirages. Margarita Pintado Burgos invites us to ponder the impasse while showing us ways to see better, to break the habit of lying, and to confront images along with language.

With devastating clarity, Pintado Burgos’s poems, presented in both Spanish and English, give voice to the world within and beyond sight: the plants, the trees, the birds, the ocean waves, the fruit forgotten in the kitchen, the house’s furniture. Light takes on new dimensions to expose, manipulate, destroy, and nourish. Alejandra Quintana Arocho’s sensitive English translation renders the stark force of these poems without smoothing over the language of the original.

This collection is for anyone who has felt the weight of beauty that remains hidden. It is for those who have left behind a mother, a father, a country. It is for those who know that there is no way out of the poem, for those who have had to live off a house of words and need that house to be as real as possible. Pintado Burgos writes as a woman, exile, daughter, sister, lover, and artist empowered by the restorative potential of the creative phenomenon.

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Anita de Monte Laughs Last
Xochitl Gonzalez
Flatiron Books - March 5

[from the publisher]
1985. Anita de Monte, a rising star in the art world, is found dead in New York City; her tragic death is the talk of the town. Until it isn’t. By 1998 Anita’s name has been all but forgotten—certainly by the time Raquel, a third-year art history student is preparing her final thesis. On College Hill, surrounded by privileged students whose futures are already paved out for them, Raquel feels like an outsider. Students of color, like her, are the minority there, and the pressure to work twice as hard for the same opportunities is no secret.

But when Raquel becomes romantically involved with a well-connected older art student, she finds herself unexpectedly rising up the social ranks. As she attempts to straddle both worlds, she stumbles upon Anita’s story, raising questions about the dynamics of her own relationship, which eerily mirrors that of the forgotten artist.

Moving back and forth through time and told from the perspectives of both women, Anita de Monte Laughs Last is a propulsive, witty examination of power, love, and art, daring to ask who gets to be remembered and who is left behind in the rarefied world of the elite.

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Cristina Henríquez
Ecco - March 5

[from the publisher]
A powerful novel about the construction of the Panama Canal, casting light on the unsung people who lived, loved, and labored there.

It is said that the canal will be the greatest feat of engineering in history. But first, it must be built. For Francisco, a local fisherman who resents the foreign powers clamoring for a slice of his country, nothing is more upsetting than the decision of his son, Omar, to work as a digger in the excavation zone. But for Omar, whose upbringing was quiet and lonely, this job offers a chance to finally find connection.

Ada Bunting is a bold sixteen-year-old from Barbados who arrives in Panama as a stowaway alongside thousands of other West Indians seeking work. Alone and with no resources, she is determined to find a job that will earn enough money for her ailing sister’s surgery. When she sees a young man—Omar—who has collapsed after a grueling shift, she is the only one who rushes to his aid.

John Oswald has dedicated his life to scientific research and has journeyed to Panama in single-minded pursuit of one goal: eliminating malaria. But now, his wife, Marian, has fallen ill herself, and when he witnesses Ada’s bravery and compassion, he hires her on the spot as a caregiver. This fateful decision sets in motion a sweeping tale of ambition, loyalty, and sacrifice.

Searing and empathetic, The Great Divide explores the intersecting lives of activists, fishmongers, laborers, journalists, neighbors, doctors, and soothsayers—those rarely acknowledged by history even as they carved out its course.

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Until August:  A Novel
Gabriel García Márquez

Anne McLean - Translator
Knopf - March 12

[from the publisher]
The extraordinary rediscovered novel from the Nobel Prize–winning author of Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude

Sitting alone beside the languorous blue waters of the lagoon, Ana Magdalena Bach contemplates the men at the hotel bar. She has been happily married for twenty-seven years and has no reason to escape the life she has made with her husband and children. And yet, every August, she travels by ferry here to the island where her mother is buried, and for one night takes a new lover.

Across sultry Caribbean evenings full of salsa and boleros, lotharios and conmen, Ana journeys further each year into the hinterland of her desire and the fear hidden in her heart.

Constantly surprising, joyously sensual, Until August is a profound meditation on freedom, regret, self-transformation, and the mysteries of love—an unexpected gift from one of the greatest writers the world has ever known.

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Jamie Figuera
Pantheon - March 19

[from the publisher]
Growing up in the Midwest, raised by a Puerto Rican mother who was abandoned by her family, Jamie Figueroa and her sisters were estranged from their culture, consumed by the whiteness that surrounded them. In Mother Island, Figueroa traces her search for identity as shaped by and against a mother who settled into the safety of assimilation. In lyrical, blistering prose, Figueroa recalls a childhood in Ohio in which she was relegated to the background of her mother’s string of failed marriages; her own marriage in her early twenties to a man twice her age; how her work as a licensed massage therapist helped her heal her body trauma; and how becoming a mother has reshaped her relationship to her family and herself. Only as an adult in New Mexico was Figueroa able to forge her own path, using writing to recast her origin story. In a journey that takes her to Puerto Rico and back, Figueroa looks to her ancestors to reimagine her relationship to the past and to her mother’s native island, reaching beyond her own mother into a greater experience of mothering and claiming herself.

In stunning prose that draws from Puerto Rican folklore and mythology, a literary lineage of women writers of color, and narratives of identity, Figueroa presents a cultural coming-of-age story. Candid and raw, Mother Island gets to the heart of the question: Who do we become when we are no longer trying to be someone else?

Later.

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Manuel Ramos writes crime fiction. Read his latest story, Northside Nocturne, in the award-winning anthology Denver Noir, edited by Cynthia Swanson, published by Akashic Books.