14 Must-Read Works Of Chicano Literature

Original post by Rigoberto González found here: https://www.buzzfeed.com/rigobertogonzalez/must-read-chicano-literature?utm_term=.enOWbe75D#.iw8GA7yZW

As U.S. policymakers continue the back-and-forth debate on immigration reform and, yet again, only the ills of the U.S.–Mexico border dominate the popular media, it becomes essential to read the words of Chicano writers who explore the complexities of that particular Latino landscape through story, personal narrative, and poetry.

Chicano is a politicized identity that recognizes a Mexican ancestry, that places its unique American experiences at the center of the conversation, away from the margins, and that believes, quite simply, in speaking for itself. Its literary lineage dates back to the social movements of the 1960s, when poetry, storytelling and theater participated in expressing the Chicano community’s gains and challenges as it fought for political agency and pushed back against egregious misrepresentations of its people. Indeed, the struggle, or la lucha, continues and so does the work of Chicano writers who bear witness from the inside.

Of course, not all Chicano writers direct their imaginations toward the U.S.–Mexico border, but they do examine other preoccupations (history, feminism, and queerness, which at times overlap with border politics) with the same passion and creativity. The following is a list of recent or forthcoming titles I strongly recommend.

1. The Boy Kings of Texas by Domingo Martinez

Martinez’s memoir about growing up in the border town of Brownsville, Texas, just across from Matamoros, Mexico, provides incredible insights into how difficult it is for a young man to shake the dominance of machismo that afflicts his psyche, household, and neighborhood. Martinez must take charge and become the protagonist of his story in order to accept his contrasting path toward masculinity.Available from Lyons Press

Via independentpublisher.com

Martinez’s memoir about growing up in the border town of Brownsville, Texas, just across from Matamoros, Mexico, provides incredible insights into how difficult it is for a young man to shake the dominance of machismo that afflicts his psyche, household, and neighborhood. Martinez must take charge and become the protagonist of his story in order to accept his contrasting path toward masculinity.

Available from Lyons Press

2. A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying by Laurie Ann Guerrero

This book of poems by a young poet takes a great risk in exploring one of the most conflicted figures of Mexican history, La Malinche. Guerrero deconstructs the familiar narrative of La Malinche’s betrayal in service to the Spanish colonizers, and uncovers a startling legacy in the way gender expectations affecting women today are haunted (and empowered) by the specter of La Malinche’s alleged offenses.Available from University of Notre Dame Press

Via www3.undpress.nd.edu

This book of poems by a young poet takes a great risk in exploring one of the most conflicted figures of Mexican history, La Malinche. Guerrero deconstructs the familiar narrative of La Malinche’s betrayal in service to the Spanish colonizers, and uncovers a startling legacy in the way gender expectations affecting women today are haunted (and empowered) by the specter of La Malinche’s alleged offenses.

Available from University of Notre Dame Press

3. The City of Palaces by Michael Nava

This engaging historical novel looks closely at the period before and during the Mexican Revolution that fueled an unprecedented exodus to the U.S. Nava, known for his Henry Ríos murder mysteries, shifts direction with this tale of the Mexican Revolution that highlights a family caught in the midst of a dramatic period of cultural and social change. Available from University of Wisconsin Press

Via michaelnavawriter.com

This engaging historical novel looks closely at the period before and during the Mexican Revolution that fueled an unprecedented exodus to the U.S. Nava, known for his Henry Ríos murder mysteries, shifts direction with this tale of the Mexican Revolution that highlights a family caught in the midst of a dramatic period of cultural and social change.

Available from University of Wisconsin Press

4. The Deportation of Wopper Barraza by Maceo Montoya

Montoya’s humorous yet moving critique of the United States' deportation policies avoids easy depictions of good and bad. The book features a decidedly complicated anti-hero whose journey sheds light on the lives of those who are affected when a person disappears from either side of the border.Available from University of New Mexico Press

Via unmpress.com

Montoya’s humorous yet moving critique of the United States’ deportation policies avoids easy depictions of good and bad. The book features a decidedly complicated anti-hero whose journey sheds light on the lives of those who are affected when a person disappears from either side of the border.

Available from University of New Mexico Press

5. The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande

A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Grande’s memoir is the sobering testimony of an undocumented alien’s journey from a childhood of poverty to adulthood as a professional with a promising literary career. Grande’s story advocates for immigration reform, particularly as it affects people like the DREAMers who seek life-changing access to education. Available from Atria Books

Via books.simonandschuster.com

A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Grande’s memoir is the sobering testimony of an undocumented alien’s journey from a childhood of poverty to adulthood as a professional with a promising literary career. Grande’s story advocates for immigration reform, particularly as it affects people like the DREAMers who seek life-changing access to education.

Available from Atria Books

6. Ditch Water by Joseph Delgado

A stunning and original vision of a small town in Arizona where the working-class Mexican and Native American peoples and traditions coexist even when their existence is at odds with mainstream America, or with each other. But the true unifying culture is the desert landscape through which its inhabitants strive for survival on the weather’s brutal terms. Available from Kórima Press

Via korimapress.com

A stunning and original vision of a small town in Arizona where the working-class Mexican and Native American peoples and traditions coexist even when their existence is at odds with mainstream America, or with each other. But the true unifying culture is the desert landscape through which its inhabitants strive for survival on the weather’s brutal terms.

Available from Kórima Press

7. Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Saénz

This collection of stories won the PEN/Faulkner Fiction Prize and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men’s Fiction. The stories mend bridges between El Paso, Texas, and Juárez, Mexico, the beleaguered city just across the border, as Sáenz’s characters forge relationships that overcome prejudices against class, sexuality, and immigrant status.Available from Cinco Puntos Press

Via cincopuntos.com

This collection of stories won the PEN/Faulkner Fiction Prize and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men’s Fiction. The stories mend bridges between El Paso, Texas, and Juárez, Mexico, the beleaguered city just across the border, as Sáenz’s characters forge relationships that overcome prejudices against class, sexuality, and immigrant status.

Available from Cinco Puntos Press

8. Give It to Me by Ana Castillo

Castillo is back in full form with this sexy, edgy novel about one woman navigating middle age by succumbing to fantasy and desire, often to unexpected and outlandish consequences. With its daring eroticism, this novel makes a bold statement about feminism and women of color. Available from Feminist Press

Via feministpress.org

Castillo is back in full form with this sexy, edgy novel about one woman navigating middle age by succumbing to fantasy and desire, often to unexpected and outlandish consequences. With its daring eroticism, this novel makes a bold statement about feminism and women of color.

Available from Feminist Press

9. Hustle by David Tomas Martinez

Growing up in a broken home, living in a barrio, and joining a gang did not stop Martinez from transcending the low expectations of his troubled youth. The current Ph.D. candidate nurtured those raw experiences into sophisticated material that informs his startling poems. Available from Sarabande Books

Via sarabandebooks.org

Growing up in a broken home, living in a barrio, and joining a gang did not stop Martinez from transcending the low expectations of his troubled youth. The current Ph.D. candidate nurtured those raw experiences into sophisticated material that informs his startling poems.

Available from Sarabande Books

10. Las Hociconas: Three Locas with Big Mouths and Even Bigger Brains by Adelina Anthony

Queer Xicana feminist performance artist Adelina Anthony is fearless and electrifying in this collection of stage-based sketches that take every cultural, social, and political value to task. Adelina’s theatrical wit follows in the footsteps of such comedy troupes as Latins Anonymous and Culture Clash, except that she does it solo.Available from Kórima Press

Via korimapress.com

Queer Xicana feminist performance artist Adelina Anthony is fearless and electrifying in this collection of stage-based sketches that take every cultural, social, and political value to task. Adelina’s theatrical wit follows in the footsteps of such comedy troupes as Latins Anonymous and Culture Clash, except that she does it solo.

Available from Kórima Press

11. Lotería by Mario Alberto Zambrano

Employing the old bingo-like Mexican game as a literary device, Zambrano uncovers the tragic story of a preadolescent girl, one arresting memory at a time. The young girl’s sensibilities are shaped by her binational and bilingual identity, from which she draws strength in order to counter her feelings of isolation and dislocation. Available from Harper

Via harpercollins.com

Employing the old bingo-like Mexican game as a literary device, Zambrano uncovers the tragic story of a preadolescent girl, one arresting memory at a time. The young girl’s sensibilities are shaped by her binational and bilingual identity, from which she draws strength in order to counter her feelings of isolation and dislocation.

Available from Harper

12. Mañana Means Heaven by Tim Z. Hernandez

A literary response to Jack Kerouac’s short story “The Mexican Girl,” Hernandez’s novel tells the other side of the story through Bea Franco’s eyes. Franco was a California farmworker in the 1940s and her journey speaks to the plight of the woman who, despite cultural and financial limitations, dared to dream a better life for herself. Available from University of Arizona Press

Via uapress.arizona.edu

A literary response to Jack Kerouac’s short story “The Mexican Girl,” Hernandez’s novel tells the other side of the story through Bea Franco’s eyes. Franco was a California farmworker in the 1940s and her journey speaks to the plight of the woman who, despite cultural and financial limitations, dared to dream a better life for herself.

Available from University of Arizona Press

13. Mouth Filled with Night by Rodney Gomez

A newcomer to the Latino literary scene, Gomez’s poems are grounded on Texan-Mexican territory and culture, pre-Columbian mythology, and an appreciation for coming of age painfully aware of the class disparities in everyday life on the border. Arresting imagery sparkles throughout the book like gems. Available from Northwestern University Press

Via nupress.northwestern.edu

A newcomer to the Latino literary scene, Gomez’s poems are grounded on Texan-Mexican territory and culture, pre-Columbian mythology, and an appreciation for coming of age painfully aware of the class disparities in everyday life on the border. Arresting imagery sparkles throughout the book like gems.

Available from Northwestern University Press

14. Our Lost Border: Essays on Life Amid Narco-Violenceedited by Sarah Cortez and Sergio Troncoso

Cortez and Troncoso gather the most thought-provoking essays on this topical subject, many of them heartfelt testimonies by writers whose experiences and observations became unsettled by the realities of the escalating conflicts along the border. Eschewing nostalgia and romanticism, these essays are less about offering short-sighted solutions and more about imagining long-term efforts to reclaim the vibrant border culture in service to the two nations that share it. Available from Arte Público Press

Via artepublicopress.uh.edu

Cortez and Troncoso gather the most thought-provoking essays on this topical subject, many of them heartfelt testimonies by writers whose experiences and observations became unsettled by the realities of the escalating conflicts along the border. Eschewing nostalgia and romanticism, these essays are less about offering short-sighted solutions and more about imagining long-term efforts to reclaim the vibrant border culture in service to the two nations that share it.

Available from Arte Público Press

Advertisements

New Book: The New Americans?: Immigration, Protest, and the Politics of Latino Identity by Heather Silber Mohamed

The New Americans? Immigration, Protest, and The Politics of Latino Identity (University Press of Kansas, 2017) by Heather Silber Mohamed weaves together a number of different strands within the discipline of Political Science in context of the diverse Latino community in the United States. Silber Mohamed integrates analysis of social identity and citizenship, social movements and protest politics, immigration policy, and the multiplicity of communities within the Latino-American population in the U.S. The research for The New Americans? is broad and complex, but the centerpiece of the book are the protests and demonstrations in 2006 in regard to the immigration reform bill that the George W. Bush Administration advocated, and that was debated in the House and the Senate. This piece of legislation and the national conversation that it engendered is the unique case study that Silber Mohamed delves into to expose and analyze the relationship between social movements and understandings of identity and identity-framing, especially within the contemporary Latino-American communities. Silber Mohamed integrated the results from the Latino National Survey in her analysis of political attitudes and shifts of attitudes during this public debate. She traces the history and experiences of distinct groups within the broad umbrella of the American Latino community, explaining the different approaches each group has towards immigration policy and their understanding of citizenship and political advocacy. Given the more recent high profile and polarizing discussion of immigration in the United States, Silber Mohamed’s book is important contribution to this complex policy arena and our understanding of the many dimensions and political actors within the immigration debate.

 

Original post found here: http://newbooksnetwork.com/heather-silber-mohamed-the-new-americans-immigration-protest-and-the-politics-of-latino-identityuniversity-press-of-kansas-2017/

New Book: All the Agents and Saints by Stephanie Elizondo Griest

After a decade of chasing stories around the globe, intrepid travel writer Stephanie Elizondo Griest followed the magnetic pull home–only to discover that her native South Texas had been radically transformed in her absence. Ravaged by drug wars and barricaded by an eighteen-foot steel wall, her ancestral land had become the nation’s foremost crossing ground for undocumented workers, many of whom perished along the way. Before Elizondo Griest moved to the New York/Canada borderlands, the frequency of these tragedies seemed like a terrible coincidence. Once she began to meet Mohawks from the Akwesasne Nation, however, she recognized striking parallels to life on the southern border. Having lost their land through devious treaties, their mother tongues at English-only schools, and their traditional occupations through capitalist ventures, Tejanos and Mohawks alike struggle under the legacy of colonialism. Toxic industries surround their neighborhoods while the U.S. Border Patrol militarizes them. Combating these forces are legions of artists and activists devoted to preserving their indigenous cultures. Complex belief systems, meanwhile, conjure miracles. In ALL THE AGENTS AND SAINTS, Elizondo Griest weaves seven years of stories into a meditation on the existential impact of international borderlines by illuminating the spaces in between.

 

http://stephanieelizondogriest.com/portfolio/all-the-agents-and-saints/

A CONVERSATION WITH AUTHOR STEPHANIE ELIZONDO GRIEST

A CONVERSATION WITH AUTHOR STEPHANIE ELIZONDO GRIEST

Q: Your first four books are a celebration of wanderlust, which has fueled your travels to nearly 50 countries. Why did you leave the open road for your hometown in South Texas in 2007, and what did you find there?

STEPHANIE:  At some point in my early thirties, nomadism started existentially untethering me. Anything that could have diverted attention from my writing—a house, a partner, a community, a legitimately paying job, children, pets, plants—had been avoided for so long, it had slipped into the realm of the unobtainable. The bulk of my belongings, meanwhile, were scattered in attics around the world. Since nothing tied me down, I kept moving. Yet it was becoming apparent that if I never stood still, nothing ever would. So in 2007, I followed the magnetic pull of home.

To my surprise, the Rio Grande Valley had transformed into a death valley in my absence. Whole swaths of South Texas had been poisoned by petrochemical industries, ravaged by the drug war, and barricaded by a seventy-mile-long steel wall. It had become the nation’s chief crossing ground for undocumented workers as well, unknown hundreds of whom perished in the scrub brush while evading the Border Patrol. My sleepy homeland had become a major news story, and I responded the only way I knew how: by taking reams of notes.

Q: You spent seven years conducting investigative reporting in South Texas, about everything from environmental injustice and illegal immigration to the drug war, poverty, and the obesity epidemic. Yet your narrative is intensely personal as well. What do the borderlands mean for you?

STEPHANIE:  The Texas/Mexico borderline not only bisects my ancestral land. It cuts through my family as well. My mother is Mexican and my father is Kansan. I have long suspected that growing up in a biracial family in the liminal space between nations created an inner fissure in me as well. All my life, I have waffled between extremes: gringa/Chicana; cosmopolite/cowgirl; agnostic/Catholic; journalist/activist; Type A/free spirit. The Aztecs coined a term for living in the state of in-between-ness: nepantla. That is how they described their struggle to reconcile their indigenous ways with the one Spanish colonizers forced upon them in the sixteenth century. More recently, the writer Gloria Anzaldúa turned nepantla into a metaphor for a “birthing stage where you feel like you’re reconfiguring your identity and don’t know where you are.” That is probably why my journey led me back home. After so many years of feeling split in two, I sought to finally fuse.

Q: And yet, ALL THE AGENTS AND SAINTS isn’t just a meditation about your own homeland. The second half documents life in the Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne. What launched that investigation?

STEPHANIE:  The writer John McPhee became a mentor of sorts in 2005-2006, when I was a Hodder Fellow at Princeton. At our last lunch, we talked about the various book ideas he felt he was running out of time to pursue. As a parting gift, he offered one to me: a comparison of the Rio Grande Valley and the St. Lawrence River Valley. I had never even heard of the St. Lawrence River Valley, but I gratefully filed away the idea. Six years later, I played academic roulette and was lucky to land a visiting professorship at St. Lawrence University in far upstate New York, just a few miles south of Canada. When I realized it was the exact same region John McPhee had suggested exploring six years before, my entire being shuddered. And when I started learning about the border struggles of the Mohawks of Akwesasne—who lived a 40-minute drive away—I frantically began taking notes.

Q: But what do Mohawks and Tejanos possibly have in common?

STEPHANIE:  At first glance—nothing. More than 2,000 miles stand between our communities, and—with the exception of Catholicism—our cultures hold little of that ground in common. Mohawks traditionally subsisted on hunting, farming, and fishing in one of the coldest regions of the United States, whereas Tejanos tended cattle in one of the hottest. They are matriarchal; we tend toward machismo. We are fanatical about football; Mohawks don’t just revere lacrosse, they invented it.

Every time I visited Akwesasne, however, I experienced déjà vu. Practically every story I’d heard in half a lifetime in South Texas was echoed there. Just as my ancestors preceded our borderlines by centuries, theirs did, too. Many Tejanos do not speak Spanish anymore because our elders had it humiliated out of them in public school; ditto with Mohawks during their century of Indian Residential Schools. My vaquero (cowboy) elders lost their traditional lifestyle because of corporate buyouts of ranches. Mohawks can no longer support their families hunting, trapping, or fishing due to the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Our fence-line communities are likely being sickened from the toxins released by the petrochemical industry; theirs, by General Motors, ALCOA, and Reynolds. Too many of our youth are imprisoned for smuggling; theirs, for trading. In borders north and south, we must contend with the trafficking of firearms right through our neighborhoods. We die in frightening numbers from diabetes caused by obesity wrought by poverty. We grieve the loss of our land, the loss of our culture, the loss of our dignity. The violations of deeds and treaties. The creation of checkpoints. The abundance of chokepoints. The Predator drones that so often target our own.

Q: At least the Mohawks don’t have a border wall!

STEPHANIE:  Not yet! But they do have a series of bridges that link one part of their nation to another via New York and Ottawa. Any time they leave home—for school, for work, for groceries—they must check in with Customs, a process that can take anywhere from twenty minutes to two hours. And that enrages them—especially since most Mohawks refuse to acknowledge the border at all. They are a sovereign people who employ their own police force and operate their own library, museum, media, school, and court. They look not to Washington or Ottawa for governance but to the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, of which they have been members for centuries. Even though we associate bridges with connectivity, their architecture can be just as oppressive as a wall.

Q: How did spirituality become such a powerful force in this book?

STEPHANIE:  When I first started interviewing the Tejanos most impacted by the injustices I researched—refinery workers and activists, immigrants and drug runners, artists and historians—a pattern emerged. Betrayed by the government and neglected by social services, a surprising number had turned to the supernatural for solace. Time and again, I heard stories of talking trees and healing masses, of wooden madonnas who sprayed glitter from their heads and of Virgins who appeared on grain silos, backing up traffic for miles. The entire Rio Grande Valley seemed steeped in miracles.

When I began spending time with Mohawks—tribal chiefs and medicine women, Black Jack-dealers and social workers, pawnshop owners and clan mothers—I again heard stories that necessitated the suspension of disbelief. Like the time Kateri Tekakwitha (Native America’s first canonized Saint) emerged from the flour someone sprinkled while making dumplings, and everyone came running with their rosaries. Like the traditional Longhouse members who threw fistfuls of tobacco out their backdoors at the first clap of thunder. Like the time I watched one hundred men, women, and children dance and chant for four hours in honor of the first fruit of the summer: the strawberry.

When you live a few miles away from an arbitrary line that drops you into an entirely different consciousness with its own history and culture and references and rules, your mind becomes more receptive to additional imaginative leaps.

Q: What is your own relationship with spirituality?

STEPHANIE:   Like many Tejanos, I grew up Catholic, and—despite my wildly divergent views on everything from abortion to the Vatican—I still claim to be one. It’s practically cultural heritage. I was also weaned on fantastical stories about curanderos who could diagnose what ailed you by tweaking your nose, about brujas wielding horsehair whips, about lady ghosts that wailed down by the river. An inner skeptic, however, was born in journalism school and nurtured in a succession of newsrooms. So that is another tension that animates this book. Not only do I straddle two cultures, I also inhabit the space between faith and doubt.

Q: Can you tell us about the book’s title, ALL THE AGENTS & SAINTS?

STEPHANIE:  Would you believe it was a typo? One morning, I was transcribing a Catholic prayer called the Confiteor that includes the line “all the Angels and Saints.” Only instead of typing the word “angels,” I accidentally wrote “agents.” For years, I had been struggling to find the right title for this book. A little electric current shot through my body when I realized I just did. For better or worse, (Border Patrol) agents and (Catholic) saints are the twin protectorates of our nation’s borderlands. It seemed apt to honor them in this way.

Q: What do you hope people will gain by reading this book? What is its takeaway?

STEPHANIE:  Empathy, for starters. I want U.S. citizens to realize that to be a member of our borderlands is to forever reside on the periphery. It’s a region where your car will be searched, your identity questioned, and your allegiances tested on a back road so remote, no one will hear you when you scream. Because a borderline is an injustice. It is a time-held method of partitioning the planet for the benefit of the elite. Fortunately, we have legions of activists, artists, and faith keepers out there, petitioning on humanity’s behalf, but they need serious reinforcement from the rest of us.

Far too often we hear about the U.S. borderlands only from the politicians who dictate their policies from afar. Rarely do we learn from the descendants of the regions’ early inhabitants. InALL THE AGENTS AND SAINTS, I align their stories side by side as testimonio, or a document of witness, of what life there is truly like. Because it’s time to stop sending more “boots on the ground” and start listening to those who are actually rooted there.

Q: What is next for you?

STEPHANIE:  Wanderlust is calling once again. I’ve just been granted a sabbatical from my professorship at UNC-Chapel Hill for Fall 2017. I’ll be spending much of it on book tour, with stops across the northeast and southwest. I’ll also be hard at work on my next book, which explores the sacrifices women make for art. It’s research has already taken me to India, Rwanda, Romania, Cuba, and Qatar. Now I’m plotting where to go next.#

Visit Stephanie at www.StephanieElizondoGriest.com and follow her @SElizondoGriest.

 

Original post found here: http://www.latinabookclub.com/

New Book: Telegramas al cielo/ Telegrams to Heaven by René Colato Laínez

Luna’s Press Books

3790 Mission St

San Francisco, California, CA 94110

(415) 260-7490

www.facebook.com/lunaspressandbookstore/

(from author)

I am happy to present my new book Telegramas al cielo/ Telegrams to Heaven. Probably you know about Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the archbishop, who spoke for his people during the civil war in El Salvador. In Telegrams to Heaven, you will discover Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the boy, who has a dream to accomplish.

As a Salvadoran, it is an honor to present the childhood of Oscar Arnulfo Romero to our niños. They also have dreams to accomplish.

* * *

Telegrams to Heaven recounts the moving childhood of Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez, who from an early age discovers the candor, light and power of the word, which he uses to pray and to write poetry, sending telegrams to heaven from
his heart. René Colato Laínez, the renowned Salvadoran writer, has written a touching story about the great Salvadoran prophet who dreamed from his childhood of being a priest, and became not only a priest, but also a bishop, an archbishop, and the great orator of his country. His word remains, for the Salvadoran people and the world—a prayer, a poem, a sweet telegram that Archbishop Romero continues to send in the name of his people to the heart of heaven. The colorful, modern illustrations of Pixote Hunt make us reflect with deep tenderness, showing us the innocence of the great Archbishop Romero as a young child.

 

Telegramas al Cielo narra la conmovedora niñez de monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez, quien desde muy temprana edad descubre la candidez, la luz y la fuerza de la palabra, la cual utiliza para rezar y escribir poesía, para desde su corazón enviar telegramas al cielo. El afamado escritor salvadoreño, René Colato Laínez, ha escrito una enternecedora historia del gran profeta salvadoreño que soñó desde su infancia con ser sacerdote y no solo lo fue, sino que también se convirtió en monseñor, obispo, arzobispo y el gran orador de su país. Su palabra permanece entre el pueblo salvadoreño y el mundo: como un rezo, como un poema, como un dulce telegrama que monseñor Romero sigue enviando, en nombre de su pueblo, al corazón del cielo. Las modernas y coloridas ilustraciones de Pixote Hunt, nos hacen reflexionar con profunda ternura, al mostrarnos la inocencia del pequeño gran monseñor Romero.

 

Original post found here: http://labloga.blogspot.com/2017/07/telegramas-al-cielo-telegrams-to-heaven.html

Book Rev. of Bad Hombres & Nasty Women

Translated by Gabriel H. Sanchez

Poetry and narrative as dialectic processes are a constant transmutation that like a wind or water vortex produces a linguistic synthesis in direct response, in most instances, to the political and contextual manifestations of our age. This anthology represents a response to an erroneous adscription leveled at chicanas and chicanos, latinas and latinos in the United States. It is a cleansing of—and an appeal against—an imposed set of unfounded proclamations, utilizing words to wash them away by reclaiming and repurposing the two concepts “Bad Hombres” & “Nasty Women.” In turn, poets and writers responded to the call by using the new concepts as a catalyst for the creation of potent poetry and prose laden with social commentary.

We should celebrate the cultural heritage which chicanos, chicanas, latinos, latinas have imparted to this nation as much as we should celebrate every wave of immigrants which has reached our shores and has contributed to the formation of what we know as these United States. How to declare this country as “mine” if the adjective qualifiers that pretend to portray our likeness are nothing more than minimizing pejoratives? How to feel as part of the greater whole who share the roots set upon this land when our officials fail to celebrate the contributions of the immigrant in a dignified manner? Therein lies the origin of this anthology of poetry and prose; a space where poets and narrators are conjured to reclaim, respond, and recreate the representations of immigrants, latinas, latinos, chicanas, chicanos, the plight of women, class distinction, and many more social ills which are central to our present reality.

In this anthology, poets and writers depict a vision and a collective sentiment that cannot be silenced. Silence could never be the solution, for it is the written and enunciated word, which like an incantation, counters and abolishes hurtful and misplaced descriptions. These poets and prose writers are brimming with intent and “ganas” [fervor] to bring about change for our present and future generations. The hard-fought victories earned by chicanos, chicanas, latinos, latinas in the United States cannot be eradicated by nonsensical positing. That is why when readers immerse themselves in the pages within this book they will discover the strength of the poet. They will fuse with the poetry and prose written primarily in English, with a few lines in Spanish, and on occasion, writings interspersed with code switching between the two languages.

We hear Edward Vidaurre say “we can be brown together.” I can relax and be myself. We translate the lines that read, “she can wear rebozos and I / can get tattoos of feathered hair Chicanas.” We are who we are and it is right that we use the rebozo [shawl] as a symbol to honor previous generations of women, specifically las adelitas, those who formed part of the Mexican Revolution. Seres Jaime Magaña writes, “We see that you intended to expel the love from our lives” channeling the strength and the goodness of the people, of la Raza. He adds that despite all that is being imposed on us “We will shine through with our multicolored eyes;” that specter of light shall cause this burdensome darkness to rise up off our backs floating upward like smoke plumes taking away with it all prejudice until they disappear.

In Mónica Alvarez’s lament we feel the perils of a journey to reach Los Angeles. We experience in her words the great suffering that many have endured in that lengthy peregrination, “The putrid smell of rotten corpses / danced around the meadow, / where the virgin flowers / turned away / so their silky petals / would not get tarnished / by the filthy stroke / of blood-soaked wind.” We sing along with “Song for America” by Fernando Esteban Flores and shout a loud chorus, “Sweat in America’s factories / Wait on America’s tables / Fight in America’s wars.” And then we dance as we reclaim our identity to the tune of “gabachita’s corrido. / a bit tejana, rancherita, a bit hip hop, pop a bit classical, antigüita” by Priscilla Celina Suarez, who upon listening to a song while in the waiting room at a dentist’s office is moved to reflect upon the love of her people; of those who have been lost and those who have been buried; of those who have made her who she is: a proud chicana who exudes the heritage of la raza through her pores.

Between the lines of prose tales within, this anthology culminates with images fed through different experiences and observations of unjust situations visited upon our people. Such tales as Phillip Bannowsky’s “Jacobo Gets the Good Job” which with incisive images leads us by the hand from the first line to a place of work where the ICE agents arrive unannounced; something many of us are intimately familiar with. With agile storytelling, Bannowsky keeps us on edge throughout, narrating the interior world of the protagonist existing in his own exterior reality as if caught between parallel universes until that moment that takes him by surprise; that prompts him to flee; that compels him to think of his fellow workers from Guatemala and Ecuador, of hardworking family men like himself. We escape alongside the protagonist until the early morning sun dazzles our eyes and finds us as it shines through corn plant leaves. There, in our last refuge, a cutting voice, like a machete, asks: “Amigo, do you speak English?”

It is an open-ended question. It is posed at the world for posterity. This world where friends should be welcome and not condemned. We are the cornerstone of this country. Our previous generations have planted every form of fruit and vegetable which adorn our tabletops. We are our daily bread, and that is what this anthology proclaims. Bad Hombres & Nasty Women is a fervent declaration, a handful of fresh but potent words which exalt our perspective, vindicate our ancestors, our parents, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and over all else, our youth. Let us rise and break through, breaching a space where we may call things by their true names.

Rev. by Xánath Caraza

original post found here: http://labloga.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-raving-press-comentario-la.html

Academic of the Year: Cristina Rivera Garza

Despite all of the social and political turmoil our country is facing, it is important to take time and celebrate some of the great accomplishments achieved within our community. One of these remarkable and historical moments will occur this Fall 2017 at the University of Houston. For the first time in our nation’s history, we will have a Ph.D. program in Spanish with a concentration in Creative Writing.
Picture

The University of Houston seems to be the perfect place for this initiative for its long tradition in Latino literature. Other national projects housed at the University of Houston are Arte Público Press and Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage program, which have also proven to be crucial in the promotion of Latino literature and research in the U.S. for several decades. These literary projects as well as the new Ph.D. Creative Writing program makes the University of Houston one of the most highly regarded institutions within our Latino literary community.
This groundbreaking initiative will be led by no other than the renown, award winning Mexican author, Cristina Rivera Garza. With well over 40 million Spanish speakers in this country, this initiative is not only a huge step forward, but without a doubt, one of the greatest academic Latino achievements of the decade. For this reason, Latino Book Review is proud to name Cristina Rivera Garza, Academic of the Year; for her pioneering spirit in academics and assistance in the advancement of the Spanish language in the U.S.
Picture

This Ph.D. program not only validates Spanish Creative Writing within the U.S., but it’s also a promising cornerstone that seeks to inspire other universities throughout the country to do the same. It is a symbol of empowerment for those who choose to share stories in our beautiful mother tongue. 

Interview with Tony Diaz (El librotraficante)

Diaz will be giving talks all throughout Texas in the next couple of weeks, including Austin on the 25th.

Tony Diaz, El Librotraficante, founded NuestraPalabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say in 1998.  He is the leader of the Librotraficantes-champions of Freedom of Speech, Intellectual Freedom, and Performance Protest. He also hosts the Nuestra Palabra Radio Program on 90.1 FM KPFT Houston, Texas. He is a writer, activist, and professor. Following Arizona’s Mexican American Studies ban HB 2281, specifically section 15-112, Tony Diaz has become a champion for all ethnic studies throughout the U.S. through his Librotraficante movement.
GERALD PADILLA: Tony, thank you for being on Latino Book Review.

TONY DIAZ: Thank you for helping us spread the word about la palabra.

PADILLA: A lot of us have heard about the discriminatory and straight out racist laws Arizona has enacted this last decade, including a ban on Mexican American Studies. What exactly does this ban mean and what is at stake?

Picture

Librotraficantes pose with banned books in San Antonio.

DIAZ: Arizona officials accused the K-12 Mexican American Studies Program at Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) of “promoting the overthrow of the government”. Of course, none of the books that were part of the outlawed curriculum did that. In fact, collections of poetry by Jimmy Santiago Baca and Carmen Tafolla didn’t even have the words “government” or “overthrow” in them. That law is being reviewed at the Arizona Supreme Court. Week 1 runs from Monday, June 26, 2017 to June 30. There is another week of trial in July 17 – 21, 2017. If this law is allowed to stand, it could spread faster and farther than Arizona’s anti-immigrant laws spread. This could destroy freedom of speech and intellectual freedom in every state of the union.

​PADILLA: El Librotraficante movement is known for smuggling banned books into Arizona. How does this work?

DIAZ: Our 2017 Librotraficante Caravan from Houston, Texas to Tucson, Arizona stretched 1,100 miles. You can follow the route on our website www.Librotraficante.com. That is a map to the Chicano literary legacy of the Southwest, as we stopped and convened with authors such as Sandra Cisneros, author of House on Mango Street; and Rudolfo Anaya, author of Bless Me, Ultima, whose works were part of the now-outlawed curriculum. Writer Dagoberto Gilb, author of “The Magic of Blood”-banned in Arizona-joined us on the bus in 2012.

We opened Under Ground Libraries at our stops along the way. The goal is to make sure that our community’s access to its literature is never at the whim of an administration again. We have Librotraficante Under Ground Libraries in Houston, San Antonio, Albuquerque, and Tucson, among other cities, and they are thriving.

The Librotraficante Under Ground Library in Albuquerque is located in Los Jardines Institute which is run by Richard Moore and Sofia Martinez who helped edit one of the classics banned in AZ-500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures, with Elizabeth Martinez. They have a thriving center which utilizes the Under Ground Library in unique ways organic to the community. Members included the UG Library in the mural along the back fence of the property behind the community gardens where participants can profoundly understand how our literature, our environment, our surroundings are all linked. It was potent to visit and re-stock their shelves with banned books.

Picture

Librotraficante Under Ground Library in Tucson at the John Valenzuela Youth Center. | Photo Credit Tony Diaz

PADILLA: What is the current status on the Mexican American Studies ban?

DIAZ: Let’s make one thing clear. Arizona’s current law is dangerous. It is so broad that it can be used to prohibit any course officials dislike. Arizona HB2281 which is now AZ ARS 15-122, tramples on Intellectual Freedom and Freedom of Speech. It must be over turned. On the other hand, there has been some major push back.

So with the 2012 Librotraficante Caravan we joined a nationwide movement to put that un-American, discriminatory law in check. It did not spread the same way Arizona’s Anti-immigrant law SB1070-The Show Me Your Papers Law-spread.

Also, the cultural crisis in Arizona woke us all up.

California now has several major school districts where students must take Ethnic Studies in order to graduate high school.

Picture

Tony Diaz is the lead writer and editor of the textbook “The Mexican American Studies” which was submitted for consideration of adoption in Texas high schools.

In Texas, we thwarted any bills that adopted the same language as the AZ ban.  We also were able to push for more classes and also a call for Ethnic Studies textbooks. That’s a longer story, but the good news is that on June 7, I submitted to the Texas State Board of Education, The Mexican American Studies Toolkit, for which I am the lead writer and editor. That textbook is already available for schools to adopt, but it is also going through the process of approval of adoption state wide.

So here is the irony of our time, as The Librotraficantes ride 1,100 miles to witness the court case that could decimate Ethnic Studies in every state of the union, we are carrying with us the textbook that might spread Mexican American Studies faster than ever.

PADILLA: What has been the response within our community? Have other organizations become allies with the Librotraficante movement?

Picture

The 2017 Librotraficante Caravan launched from Casa Ramirez folk Art Gallery in Houston, Texas. Photo Credit | Juan Parras.

 

DIAZ: It is powerful to see the Librotraficante Under Ground Libraries thrive. We revisited and restocked their shelves on the 2017 Caravan. We also have many other allies including Chicana literary icon Denise Chavez, author of “Loving Pedro Infante”, among other works, who hosted a reception for us at her book store and cultural center Casa Camino Real in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She donated books and also organized a community reception. The El Paso community once again organized a powerful reception which included Danza, poets, writers, and community members at Café Mayapan. Book donors include Arte Público Press, Wings Press, Cinco Punto Press, and so many others. The outpouring of support has been powerful and keeps growing. Of course, groups such as The National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS), and the NACCS Tejas Foco have put out statements against the ban, as have non-Latino groups. Most recently Pen America condemned the Arizona MAS ban and called it out as an attack on Freedom of Speech.

Picture

The Librotraficantes arrive to San Antonio on their way to Tucson, visiting Librotraficante Under Ground Librarties along the way.

PADILLA: What can our community members do to collaborate and fight against this discriminatory law?

DIAZ: Spread the word. Tell your family, friends and community about the ban and about the court case at the Arizona Supreme Court. This means retweeting and reposting and sharing information through social media. This also means telling folks about this the old fashioned way-one tía & tío at a time. Folks can also help spread Chicano, Latinx, and other Ethnic Studies. This can be as simple as reading some of the brilliant works that were part of the outlawed curriculum. If you visitwww.Librotraficante.com and click on the “Banned” tab, you can read the annotated bibliography. These include “Wood Cuts of Women” by Dagoberto Gilb; “Always Running” by Luis Rodriguez; “Lover Boys” by Ana Castillo; even Isabel Allende is on the list.

Folks can also organize affinity events that can include exhibits of the banned books. They can also support the Xito Institute which some of the original Tucson K-12 MAS instructors are now a part of. Xito is an education consulting collective committed to assisting urban school districts, higher education institutions, school administrators and classroom teachers to create inclusive, vibrant and dynamic learning environments.

Be vigilant. Look for potential laws and policies in your state that are might be copying parts of the Arizona law banning Mexican American Studies and nip it in the bud.

Bolder steps include starting Ethnic Studies classes in the community or as part of classes that already exist. The next step is to push for formal implementation of such classes in an entire school district and/or state wide.

Folks can also go to Tucson for the subsequent parts of the trial.

PADILLA: Where can we find more information regarding any updates about the Librotraficante movement?

DIAZ: Folks can find out more by visiting our website www.Librotraficante.com. We are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram under the same name. Also, they can tune in to our radio show Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say ON THE Air, Tuesdays 6p-7p cst, 90.1 FM KPFT. The radio show is live streamed on www.KPFT.org and on iTunes.

Also, The Nuestra Palabra Collection is housed at the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, part of the Special Collections Division of the Houston Public Library System. Nuestra Palabra radio show broadcasts are archived at the University of Houston Libraries and Special Collections.

Picture

Tony Diaz, El Librotraficante; Curtis Acosta-first witness of the MAS Trail; his father Sam Acosta and his partner Patricia Acosta. Photo credit | DA Morales

PADILLA: Would you like to make a direct call of action to our readers to energize their spirits in these times of turmoil?

DIAZ: It seems that Democracy needs to be rebooted every 50 to 60 years. That duty has fallen on the shoulders of Chicanas, Chicanos, and Latinxs this time around. However, we’ve been prepared for this. What our community used to do to simply survive, will now help us thrive, and together we will overcome this oppression and lead the nation into an era of Enlightenment.

PADILLA: Tony, it was great to have you on Latino Book Review. On behalf of all of us who hold our heritage dearly, thank you for standing up for our literature, our culture and our future generations.


DIAZ: It is a blessing and honor to unite for this great cause. Gracias.

Original post by Gerald A. Padilla found here: http://www.latinobookreview.com/interview-with-tony-diacuteaz.html

California Hymn by Yaccaira Salvatierra

Yaccaira Salvatierra is an educator and art instructor living in San José. Her poems have appeared in HuizacheDiálogoPuerto del Sol, and Rattle, among others. She is a VONA (Voices of Our Nation) alumna, the recipient of the Dorrit Sibley Award for achievement in poetry, the 2015 winner of the Puerto del Sol Poetry Prize, and a nominee for a Pushcart Prize. Although she has lived in over seven cities in California, San José has been home for the past 17 years where she lives with her two sons. (5:00 p.m. at Hart’s Haven Used Bookstore, 6:00 p.m. at Spectrum Art Gallery)

CALIFORNIA HYMN

Pigeons hovered as we lowered your casket next to your gravestone;
they filled their silvery-purple chests, spewed a lullaby into your stone grave.

Grandfather, you once told me that no song of lament to any Saint
could stop pigeons in Mexico City from having the sky be their gravestone.

As a young man working in the city, a pigeon fell next to your feet,
so you left for the Central Valley: clean air and a small bed for your grave.

I had seen pictures of you younger, sunburned, always wearing huaraches—
your toes filled with dirt like that brick-color dirt under your gravestone.

When you were much older, living off of your Bracero’s pension, you
went to church every day, saved money every month for your gravestone.

Sometimes you went to mass without your teeth, said evil spirits hid them,
but it didn’t matter, you still prayed when you thought of your name on stone.

You always cooked a pot of pinto beans and made soft flour tortillas for us—
I think I’ll put a bag of beans and white flour next to your gravestone

instead of lilies.

I carefully placed your portable stereo in the grave so you
could listen to Vicente Fernández sing a ranchera under your gravestone,

hear him cry the Mexican yodel—I don’t think I ever saw you cry, Salvatierra,
but at your burial, we cried your favorite “Chente” song over the bed of your grave,

Yo sé perder, yo sé perder, quiero volver, volver, volver.

 

Originally posted here along with other other poems: http://labloga.blogspot.com/2017/07/blessed-be-poetry-of-yaccaira.html

Meet the author: Yaccaira Salvatierra

ENTREVISTA

One of my favorite names in the world is currently Yaccaira Salvatierra. It’s a name I imagine we could torture some white supremacists with. It’s fierce, poetic, and unapologetically muy Latino Américano. Yaccaira Saves the Earth. I met Yaccaira this past April at LitHop in Fresno. We were both part of the reading Damas, Sirenas, and the New Beats of El Corazón, which also featured the talented poets Nancy Aidé González and Marissa Raigoza.

This past month, I had the opportunity to read some of Yaccaira’s poems and interview her via email. Of course, the first question I asked her was about her name. Here is our guest featured poet sharing a little about herself and her work.

LitHop Fresno 2017: Yaccaira, Yo, Nancy, y Marissa (our group organizer and Loteria Queen)

Welcome to La Bloga. How did you get such an awesome name? 

First, thank you for the compliment, I truly feel fortunate to have been given this name. My birth name is Yaccaira Hortencia de la Torre Salvatierra and, as you can imagine, it has not only been butchered but I have lived under different variations of my name because of its uniqueness, but I feel that Yaccaira Salvatierra holds all of me, the Peruvian and Mexican history of me.

You write about your maternal grandfather in your poem “California Hymn.” Is that where the Salvatierra comes from? 

My father is de la Torre and my mother’s maiden name is Salvatierra, which is gorgeous and painful considering that my grandfather, Teodoro Salvatierra, worked on California lands as a farmworker for years while my grandmother and aunts stayed in México. I suppose a literal translation to his name could be “Teodoro saves the earth,” but metaphorically it truly embodies his life as a Bracero, which is filled with irony because my aunts and grandmother lived in poverty in México, and because of the poverty we endured when we moved back to the US when I was two.

And Yaccaira?

According to my father, Yaccaira (pronounced Ja-hi-da), is Quechua for a cemetery of flowers or a place where spirits congregate. It basically describes a burial cite. It’s poetic and haunting, but when I visited Perú for the first time—my father has never returned, he left in his thirties—my family who also speaks Quechua, did not make this correlation. As a matter of fact, and with reason, when I asked, they were more interested in wanting to know about my father, all the years that had passed, and his guitar-playing days as an apprentice to a well-known guitarist in Perú. They wanted to reminisce about his years in Perú with me, his first and eldest child, the closest they will probably ever be to him again. That first day, my family gathered in a circle and they took out a guitar. One by one, my uncles played a song, sang, and said something in Quechua or Spanish about a memory of my father. It was a beautiful moment, which left me with more questions about him.  For now, my name holds that mystery, it’s the Peruvian part of me I know little of, the spirits I need to unveil to know my father’s story. Salvatierra is honoring my Mexican family, the beginning of where I start in their story.

What was your first connection to the creative word?

I was born into a very unstable home where it was common and natural for me to retreat within myself, disconnect from those around me and find solace in my solitude.  Even before I knew how to write, I was making up songs about how I felt. I remember one of the first poems I expressed was in song and in Spanish. It was about a dandelion, a wild flower, which in Spanish is called diente de león directly translating to lion’s tooth.  To a child, that image can be frightening, but to me it was wonderful; however, I changed things around in my song. The blades of grass were lion’s teeth protecting this wildflower, or flor silvestre—that’s such a beautiful word: silvestre. I once heard my mother say that cada espíritu nace con su canción, each spirit is born with its own song and I think mine is of sounds and words.

Do you remember writing your first poem?

By second grade, I did eventually write my first poem, but I didn’t know it was a poem then. I grew up Catholic and in the church. Around that time, someone at our church was leaving, someone who was dearly loved by everyone, including me. During one of our Sunday school classes we were asked to make farewell cards filled with pictures or writing. I don’t remember what I wrote about, but I remember it was a child’s sincerity and sadness. When I gave it to Irma, my Sunday school teacher, she showed it to her husband who was there and said, “Tienes que leer este poema que escribió Yaccaira.” “You have to read this poem Yaccaira wrote.” I suppose that would be my first written poem.

Lucille Clifton reminds us that poets have been around long before academia and classrooms. She says that it’s important to remember that perhaps “poetry began when somebody walked off of a savanna or out of a cave and looked up at the sky with wonder and said, ‘Ahhh.’ That was the first poem.” Who are the untraditional poets/dreamers/storytellers in your family who have influenced you?

There is so little I know about my family, and so much I want to know, so much I feel needs to be documented for my sons and their understanding of themselves in this world, particularly the United States. For example, my father left Perú in his thirties, but the reason for him leaving is filled with so much mystery, and to this day he will not talk about it. He was also once a guitarist, but he stopped playing when he stopped drinking. I was ten years old then. Because he’s always been reserved and secretive about his life, my three older brothers and I made up stories with the bits and pieces we did know of him. Poetry is like this for me. I remember when my father would drink, he would go into a bedroom and play his guitar and I would sit outside of the door.  I would hear him sigh after a song, and it was in those sighs I felt I was entering into his life, one that was meant not to be shared but I wanted to know so much about. On the other hand, my mother has always been an avid reader, a great storyteller, but mostly about her life, that of my aunts, or about spirits. Lots of them.  Ultimately, I am drawn to the stories as a way to better understand them, especially since my childhood was so tumultuous.

What is your greatest challenge in writing? What is your greatest pleasure? 

My greatest challenge is finding time to write, or trying to keep a schedule. I am a parent, a teacher, and a writer. The balance is so difficult because I many times choose my sons’ needs over mine. I feel it is a spiritual necessity; I am not only having to fulfill my spirit’s longing, but I have to guide that of my sons’.  In addition, I am a single parent, which makes finding time and keeping a schedule even more difficult. I used to have this routine where I would write Saturday and Sunday mornings early while they were asleep; however, I’ve always preferred to write at night. Truthfully, my heart goes out to single-parent artists with little support, or without a co-parent. It’s not easy.  My closest friends are dancers, musicians, or writers, and they live following their spirits need to create.  It’s an imperative to their survival. So, it’s not easy for me, but my two sons have also been one of my greatest pleasures. I have learned so much from them; they have gifted me with more insight into humanity, which is priceless.  Besides, I am enjoying watching them become young men with the need to create.  One of them has the gift of writing and art, and my other son finds happiness in photography and digital music production. And, of course, I find a lot of pleasure in writing a poem.

Pigeons often appear in your poems. Is that one of you animal spirits? 

I have not had a professional vision quest of my spirit animals, but the rock pigeon has to be one of them.  Ever since I was younger every time I heard a pigeon coo I felt it was a message that things were going to be okay, or that my spirits were close by watching out for me.

Original post found here: http://labloga.blogspot.com/2017/07/blessed-be-poetry-of-yaccaira.html