"Chicano writers from El Paso are the most progressive, open-minded, far-reaching, and inclusive writers of them all."

Octavio Romano

Friday, December 08, 2006

Sandra Cisneros is a Sellout!: Our Love Hate Relationship with Successful Chicano Writers, Part III

Note: Please read parts I and II of this post below

Waiting for the Fall

But what is it with us that we begin to hate our successful writers after supporting them through their careers as young writers up until they made the big time. It’s true, and I admit, there are many big egos made and even big egos made by those who haven’t made the big time -- but think they have.

However, don’t we want our authors to make it into the “mainstream,” the “big time”?

I think our dissing them once they make it is the American in us.

Chicano writers and activism

But Ray, you way, Sandra, or this writer, and that one, never comes to our rallies, we never see him yelling “si se puede.” First, that would be incorrect. Many of our writers do come to our community activist events. But others would say that when our famous writers go to rallies and the like, they are mobbed by the fans, somewhat taking away from the goal of the rally. When you’ve achieved such status as some writers have, this happens frequently.

So there are no real answers here and I do not have many solutions.

But looking back at many of the Chicana writers back in the day, for those of us who were in elementary school in the 1980s, Cisneros was probably the first Chicano(a) writer we read. In fact, aside, from an excerpt of Ernesto Galarza’s Barrio Boy in our literature anthology, the excerpt of House was the only Chicano(a) lit I was exposed to in elementary school.

Back to today

But again, in my opinion, the best Chicana writing today is being put out by smaller presses. This is especially true of the poets. And we thought poetry was dead. Then again, the big presses hardly touch poetry.

So am I dissing the “successful” writers? I don’t know. I just always root for the small guy or gal.

As a critic, looking at many of the books written today, I am still apt to choose not releasing a bad book review to a publication and only letting the good reviews out. I guess that is my weakness as a critic. I frequently leave books half finished because I cannot bare to read them.

I will have more to write about this later. I know what you’re saying. You are probably comparing me to the caveman in Mel Brook’s History of the World, Part I pissing on the wall drawing at the Vallon-Pont-d'Arc caves in what is now France. I tell you, my bladder is frequently full.

The other topic I have to write about is this: “Are many of our new writers who are getting big book deals, slipping into oblivion after their fist book is published?” I guess Cisneros would be a testament contrary to that statement. She’s not a new writers, but nevertheless, her popularity had endured. Again, are/am we/I dissing our successful writers?

We love them while they are new and struggling, up-and-coming, but our love sours and grows cold when they become successful.

In a way looking at some Chicana and Latina writers being published big time, I’m sometimes saying to myself, “Bring back Sandra! Hurry up Denise, put out another book! (oh yea, she just did), Ana Castillo we need more?” Now there are some exceptions so don’t jump on me. There are even some deserving Chicano writers who are publishing big. The other strange thing is that Chavez and Castillo chose not to publish in New York for their last books. So what is happening?

Sell outs. Vendidos. Successes and unsuccesses. Mainstream or downstream, in conclusion, I guess the only thing that is 100% SELLING OUT are Cisneros books?

Texas Store Owner takes Samaniego to Court

Texas Store owner harassed by Sheriff for warning of Minutemen

KTSM - El Paso
December 5, 2007

The Paso del Norte Civil Rights Group decided to help Jose Rodriguez, because they say his case is a prime example of someone's constitutional rights being violated. Back in November, Sheriff's deputies cited Rodriguez for posting signs on a pole outside his store in San Elizario. One warned
people of upcoming roadblocks and the other spoke out against 'Minutemen'. Sheriff's deputies gave Rodriguez a ticket for the unauthorized use of City property to post them. However, Paso del Norte says this case violates his right to free speech, and is actually part of a bigger problem of deputies harassing people who can't defend themselves. In a written statement we received from the Sheriff's Office, they declined to comment on this case due to pending litigation. Rodriguez's court date is coming up later this month,,,


New Books from the University of Texas Press

Alla en el Rancho Grande. Here's a new one from U of Texas Press: Remembering the Hacienda: Religion, Authority, and Social Change inHighland Ecuador, Lyon. A pathfinding study of how indigenous peasants experienced, responded to, and remember the often-harsh conditions of servitude in Ecuador's

Schlatter, Aryan Cowboys: White Supremacists and the Search for a New Frontier, 1970?2000

A startling analysis of how modern white supremacists have co-opted the mythology and environment of the American West to position their cause among historically American ideals.


Hernandez Castillo, and Stephen, Dissident Women: Gender and Cultural Politics in Chiapas

In this timely ethnographic study, nine Mexican and U.S. anthropologistsexamine the achievements of and challenges facing women participating inthe Zapatista movement .


Brown, Maxwell, and Little, La utz awach?: Introduction to Kaqchikel Maya Language

An innovative language-learning guide that will help students,researchers, and professionals in many fields quickly develop basic communication skills in one of the four major Mayan languages.


A Christmas Carol in Spanish

Though the Kansas City Repertory Theatre's A Christmas Carol is a long-established Kansas City tradition, there is a new way to experience the show that will be of interest to Spanish-speaking audiences.

by Steve Walker A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens - directed by Linda Ade Brand
Spencer Theatre-4949 Cherry Street
Nov. 18-Dec. 24, 2006
26th Annual Production!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sandra Cisneros is a Sellout!: Our Love Hate Relationship with Successful Chicano Writers, Part II

Making it Big

So admiring the struggling writers may not be so much a Chicano(a) phenomena, but more of an “American” (yes, I cringe at the word too) one. “American” culture loves the rags to riches story. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Go hungry. Starving artist. Then make it big.

The greatest example of this is Elvis. You thought I was going to name a writer right?

Elvis, a trucker, raised by a single mom. Poor. Southern. He goes to become one of the biggest icons of the 20the Century and even a big icon today.

But it is that story we love and sometimes manufacture in our own minds. The early media hype of Mike Tyson, was closely tailored after Rocky. Thug taken from the street. A Mickey-like trainer, Cus D'Amato, takes him in and trains him. We just love that story and I think it transfers over into Chicano(a) Literature. I guess our literature is more “American” than we think.

After making it big, there is the fall from grace. At least some of us hope for it.

Selling out

As soon as our writers make it big, they are soon hit with the onslaught of “selling out” by Chicano(a) Literature fans. We say they are only famous because of this and that…”They really have not done much to deserve this credit…They have a big ego…Overrated…Blah,” Blah, Blah. This is also part of that “American” ideal. Once they are on top, we love to see them fall.

I think we do this to Cisneros and other writers. In Cisneros case, there is always the criticism that she is only famous for House on Mango Street. Ilan Stavans said that much of her fame was based on a small group of works. Truthfully, I think this did not take the entire writer’s career into account though. We frequently look at writer’s careers as starting with their first book. Sometimes we believe a writer is not really a writer until they have a book.

Many writers know the hard road it took before they had a book published. For Cisneros, it was House on Mango Street. Or was it? But before that, she had been publishing, I think, since the late 1970s in various journals such as Mango and America’s Review. Then she published the chapbook Bad Boys in 1980 off the Mango/Chicano Chapbook Series. I think it was actually #8.

The One Book

Many famous writers we know are famous simply because of one book. Think about that. Salinger and others. Some even if they published other stuff afterwards, they are still remembered for one book. This crosses cultural lines and is somewhat bothersome to some artists.

Los Lobos have other songs others than “La Bamba.” Their battle with the “La Bamba” stigma has been written about.

We remember the Baroque composer Pachabel for his “Canon in D.” We also remember her for…actually that’s about it.

In one NPR story they were interviewing Barber about his Adagio, and he angrily said, “I’ve written other stuff!”

Lalo Delgado, in an interview I will release later, chuckled when he talk about being known for “Stupid America” as a signature poem. I asked him about the high and lows about having a signature poem. “I wrote other stuff, too,” he said making fun of himself.

Even our statements about being published in
New York are not entirely correct. Felipe Ortego’s anthology We Are Chicanos was the first anthology published by a major New York Press. That was in the early 1970s. Around that time, many books were being tapped by New York Presses including Richard Vasquez’ Chicano, the paperback edition of Ricardo Sánchez’ Canto y Grito mi liberacion (a title in Spanish at that), among others.

The flock to publish Chicanos in the early 1970s can be compared to the flock to publish “Latino(a)s” today. I think critics will agree, that just like today, when many New York publishing houses are flocking to publish “Latino(a),” and much more “Latina,” writers, it may be compared to the same rush in the early 1970s. Unfortunately, I’m hoping this rush will be for the better. The 1970s rush was short lived and few of titles published a by New York presses back then are memorable and somewhat looked upon with embarrassment by critics. Some are now being republished and to some critics, undeservingly.

On the other side of that, I recently saw Carmen Tafolla in Kansas City. She talked about when she was a blossoming writer, she would open books, and every book in its first few pages said “New York.” So, when she was young, she thought all writers came from New York and all stories had to take place there. She said she started a novel with a character in New York, but quickly realized it wasn’t her. Anyway, that’s just a side note.

Back to Cisneros. House was published I think in 1986 on Arte Público. I seem to remember it earlier, but I may be wrong. Many of us do not realize this fact (Downtown Brown has the original on the main page of his website.). We are use to seeing the New York Press paperback edition we all use in classrooms. We forget that House was published by Arte Público, though the largest of the small presses, it is still minuscule in comparison to the New York presses.

Many people also put down Arte Público because it publishes “nobodies.” But many of these writers and their books will go on to the big time. Cisneros is perhaps the greatest example. Victor Villasenor’s Rain of Gold was also first published at Arte Público. Both of these author’s book were later taken by New York publishers.


Introducing New House Intel Committee Chair Silvestre Reyes. Remember the Border?

News: Nancy Pelosi's pick to head the influential House Intelligence Committee used to be the top border agent in El Paso, back when he looked like an up-and-coming Republican. Now he may be the perfect man for one of the Dems' most difficult jobs.

Read more at: http://www.motherjones.com/news/update/2006/12/introducing_reyes.html

Queso Mennonita to be pasturized

Check out the NPR Story on the Mennonites of Chihuahua, all to familiar with Pasenos.

Mexico's Canadian Mennonites

Listen to this story...by Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

Morning Edition, November 28, 2006 · In the 1920s, the Mexican government wanted to settle the barren northern areas of the country with industrious farmers.

At the invitation of the then-president, 20,000 Mennonites left Canada and settled in the state of Chihuahua.

They are still there, a flourishing community so well known that one of Mexico's signature cheeses is named for them: queso menonita.


New Anthology Charts Latin America's Aspirations and Challenges

South End Press has released a new anthology that charts Latin America’s aspiration and challeges.

ON Dispatches from America, Noam Chomsky says, "After suffering half a century of vicious military dictatorship and state terror, and the disaster of rigid adherence to the neoliberal doctrines of the 'Washington consensus,' Latin America has undergone remarkable changes that offer real hope for a better future."

Publishers’s Descriptions

Lost in the coverage of the midterm elections here was the outcome of another historical political event, this one unfolding in Nicaragua's presidential race. "The Sandinista victory in Nicaragua shows that South America's progressive wave is now definitively lapping its way northward," says Teo Ballvé, co-editor of Dispatches from Latin America: On the Frontlines Against Neoliberalism, a new anthology documenting the rise of popular movements in Latin America.

The New York Times concurs: "[an Ortega win] would be a defeat for the Bush administration, which strongly opposed his election...[and appears] to be another gain for leftists in Latin America." Other reports, citing Ortega's campaigning on a platform of "peace and love" and "spiritual revolution," challenge interpreting his election as further evidence for Latin America's "rising Left."

While Ortega's election, the re-election of Lula in Brazil, and the compromise on Panama for the UN Security Council are not total victories for the left, they are not defeats. As Dispatches co-editor Vijay Prashad writes, "If there is no 'rise of the Left,' there is certainly a comprehensive roll-back of US influence in Latin America. That alone should draw readers to study the roots of the dynamics of change in the region. How did we go so quickly from Pinochet to neoliberalism and now to this...a period of hope, where the tide can shift in any direction?"

This change has emerged throughout the region, building from the ground up. From the rise of the Zapatistas in Chiapas to the presidential elections of indigenous leaders and radicals like Hugo Chávez and Evo Morales, long-standing and nascent movements of resistance are transforming Latin America from the laboratory of neoliberalism--popularly know as "globalization"--into a launching pad for resistance. Drawing from the pages of the well-respected NACLA Report and reporting on countries from Mexico to Argentina, Dispatches from Latin America offers a riveting series of accounts that bring new insight into the region's struggles and victories.

Progressive victories in Latin America were once seen as anomalies, but as Dispatches makes clear "business as usual" in Latin America has been forever changed.

$19.00 paper | 0-89608-768-9 | 376 pages
For more information on Dispatches from
Latin America please contact Alexander Dwinell at 617-547-4002
or alexander@southendpress.org

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Sandra Cisneros is a Sellout!: Our Love Hate Relationship with Successful Chicano Writers, Part I

“Sandra Cisneros is a sellout!” were the words I heard at a conference in the Texas valley as one young Tejana writer said while participating on a panel.

It’s been almost 10 years since I heard those words and it has taken me ten years to ponder them.

It is true, that Sandra Cisneros is one of our divas of Chicano(a) literature. Though they quarreled (or was it their agents), even Ilan Stavans said she’s achieved “divas status.”

But there are many reasons we are to appreciate her more than in anytime in the Chicano(a) Renaissance. I’ll go into that later.

I read several blogs over the last few months that took me back to this topic. The topic is an old one, rusting at the sides of every Chicano(a) writers and literature scholar since the dawn of our renaissance.

The old saying is “not many writers are being published by the major book publishers.” It’s a soulful mourn by a literature genre yearning for an audience. Most people, when they say that, are referring to the New York publishers.

About ten years ago, on the old Chiclit listserv, I said, that not many Chicano(a) writers have made it into the mainstream. That baited a rhetorical question from the late Octavio Romano: “While what is mainstream?”

Looking at the whiteman’s dictionary, Webster is defines “mainstream” as: “a prevailing current or direction of activity or influence.” Oxford defines is as “normal or conventional ideas, attitudes, or activities.” That’s not what I was going for, but oh well.

But in all writers and critics, there is some sense, many times self defined, on what is the “mainstream.”

So that begs the question, do we begin to hate writers once they’ve “made it.”

The Struggling Writer and American Phenomenon

I am a big fan of the struggling writer. I can speak for other critics. I very often look for self-published books or books from small presses to review and spotlight.

This comes from my fondness for the older renaissance writers like Lalo Delgado, whom I was very close to. The self-publishing master grew into a legend with only one time getting a book published in a place outside of a day’s drive of his house. Yet, he became a legend.

Some of it comes from my distaste for the saturation of the big media which is now in the hands of five big corporations. We’ll write more about that later.

I see many of these writers today following in the footsteps of now prominent Chicano(a) writers. When Sandra came to El Paso, I think it was in the late 1980s or early 1990s, she was there for almost a week doing workshops and such. I see many writers in the same mold today. I see this being done by young writers today.

To be continued

Revoluncionarias: One of my favorite picture books

I first bought this book in Mexico, a wonderful book of photos of women in the Mexican Revolution. Kudos to Cinto Puntos for putting it out in English.

Las Soldaderas: Life Blood of the Revolution

Cinco Puntos Press is proud to present the English edition of a remarkable collaboration between Mexico’s best independent press, Ediciones ERA, and Mexico’s Institute of Anthropology and History. The photographs of Las Soldaderas: Women of the Mexican Revolution and Elena Poniatowska’s commentary rescue the women of the Mexican Revolution from the dust and oblivion of history. These are the Adelitas and Valentinas celebrated in famous corridos mexicanos, but whose destiny was much more profound and tragic than the idealistic words of ballads. The photographs remind Poniatowska of the trail of women warriors that begins with the Spanish Conquest and continues to Mexico’s violent revolution.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

UTEP Grad Wins Prominent Literary Prize

Nov. 10, 2006

Media Contact: Laura S. Ruelas

Writer, University Communications


UTEP Grad Wins Prominent Literary Prize

Author Part of University’s Unique Bilingual Creative Writing Program

Argentine writer and recent UTEP graduate Betina González has won the 2006 Clarín Novel Prize for her work, "Arte menor."

Sponsored by Clarín, a major Argentine newspaper, the literary competition drew more than 800 entries. A jury of distinguished authors selected “Arte menor” as the best unpublished novel written in Spanish. González was awarded a $100,000 peso (about $32,000 U.S. dollars) royalty advance from Argentine publisher Clarín-Alfaguara. She received the award during a ceremony last month at the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires.

“It is a kind of a reward for my years and years of silent writing and for the daily exercise of discipline and dedication that’s (involved) in being a writer,” said González. “This is the beginning of a new phase in my career.”

Her book narrates the story of a daughter who follows the tracks of her dead father through the testimonies of his former lovers. She tries to understand who her father was--a failed poet, terrible parent, unfaithful husband--and in some measure, redeem him. The novel, written as a thesis project under the direction of UTEP professor of language and linguistics Luis Arturo Ramos, was praised by members of the jury, including Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago and the famed Spanish novelist Rosa Montero.

González attributes her success to hard work and the support she received at UTEP from her professors in the Creative Writing program, Ramos and Johnny Payne.

“This is a huge prize, pan-Latin American, about the equivalent of winning the Pulitzer Prize in the U.S. We are very proud of Betina,” said Payne, chair of the Department of Creative Writing.

González received her master’s in Bilingual Creative Writing from UTEP this past spring. She currently attends the University of Pittsburgh, where she is working on a doctorate in Hispanic Languages and Literatures.

Since 1998, Clarín has awarded writers from across the globe an opportunity to have their works published. The goal of the award is to attract attention to the up and coming literary community and the art of classic fiction novels. This year’s entries came from Greece, Argentina, Costa Rica, Spain, the United States, Israel and Peru.

Clarín was founded by Roberto Noble in 1945. Based in Buenos Aires, the newspaper is distributed throughout Argentina. The electronic version, www.clarin.com, is one of the most visited Spanish-language newspapers on the Internet.

For more information about the Clarín Novel Prize, visit www.premios.clarin.com.ar/premio_novela/index.html.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ariel Robello to Read at UTEP - Tejano Writers Visit the Big Apple - Chicana Play n Kansas City - Josefina Lopez in El Paso

Ariel Robello visits El Chuco

A Performance Poet Ariel Robello will visit the Sun City. Check out my review of her book My Sweet Unconditional on The Newspaper Tree.

Thursday, November 9, 2006
Tomás Rivera Center
Third Floor, Union Building East

Free Admission

Sponsored by UTEP Women’s Studies Program and
Women’s Resource Center

Play “The Fat Free Chicana and the Snow Cap Queen: to be Staged in Kansas City

Elaine Romero’s play “The Fat Free Chicana and the Snow Cap Queen” will be staged in Kansas City, Kansas at Kansas City Kansas Community College, Nov. 9-12.

The Department of Theatre at KCKCC will present its first bi-lingual full-length production, Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 9-12.

Written by Elaine Romero and directed by Stephanie Kelman, the dram will be performed at 8pm Thursday through Saturday with a 2:30pm matinee on Sunday. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens.

The play tells the story of a young Chicana who tries to change the menu at the family restaurant after learning in college that her Mexican diet is high in fat. Her struggle to come to term with her family’s value for tradition is heightened by the admonitions of the Snow Cap Queen, the character depicted on the canned lard label who comes to her as an apparition.

Tejanos to Visit the Big Apple to visit the Big Apple: Cristine Granados, Sergio Troncoso, to read along with Rigoberto Gonzalez and others


Carlito’s Café, TODAY --- Wednesday, Nov. 8, 7:30 p.m.
Pochisimo: Mexicano Americanos Readings in Nueva York
1701 Lexington Ave. NYC (bet. 106-107 sts., 6 train to 103st), 212/534-7168

For a little taste of Tejas and Califas drop by Carlito’s Café to hear celebrated Mexican American artists read from their works. The line up includes MC Rigoberto Gonzalez, Christine Granados, Erasmo Guerra , Ada Limon, and Sergio Troncoso but there will be many more talented writers, poets and artists on hand to entertain.

Night and Day Restaurant, Thursday Nov. 9 from 6-8 p.m.
230 Fifth Avenue at President Street Park Slope Brooklyn, 718/399-2162

Brooklyn Fiction: Brooklyn meets Texas! Featuring Christine Granados, Erasmo Guerra and Sergio Troncoso with other Chicano and Tejano writers.
For a little taste
Texas in Brooklyn head over to the Night and Day Restaurant, Thursday, Nov. 9 from 6-8 p.m. where three celebrated Texas authors will read from their books.

The Hudson Valley Writer’s Center, Sunday Nov. 12 from 4:30 p.m.
300 Riverside Drive, Sleepy Hollow, New York, (914) 332-5953

All three authors are featured in Dagoberto Gilb’s latest anthology Hecho en Tejas: An Anthology of Texas Mexican Literature, which will be published by University of New Mexico Press next year.

Erasmo Guerra was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. He is the author of the novel Between Dances, which won the Lambda Literary Award, and he is the editor of the non-fiction collection Latin Lovers: True Stories of Latin Men in Love.

His work has appeared in a number of journals and magazines, newspapers and anthologies, including
New World: Young Latino Writers, and forthcoming in Hecho en Tejas and Fifteen Candles. Guerra is a regular contributor to The Texas Observer. He has been awarded writing grants from the Vermont Studio Center, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. He graduated from the New School and lives in Washington Heights.

Ada Limón is originally from Sonoma, California. A graduate of the Creative Writing Program at New York University, she has received fellowships from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, New York Foundation for the Arts, and won the Chicago Literary Award for Poetry. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines, including, the Iowa Review, Slate, Watchword, Poetry Daily, Tarpaulin Sky, LIT, Painted Bride Quarterly, and others. Her first book lucky wreck was the winner of the 2005 Autumn House Poetry Prize and her second book this big fake world is was the winner of the 2005 Pearl Poetry Prize and is due out in the Fall. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her new bike and doesn't have any tattoos.

Host: Urayoán Noel was born in 1976 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and has lived in New York City since 1999. He is a poet, performer, critic, translator, and author of two books of poetry: the concept book Las flores del mall (Alamala Eds., 2000 & 2003), and the recently published Kool Logic / La lógica kool (Bilingual Press). A third collection, entitled Boringkén, is forthcoming (with spoken word CD) from Ediciones Vértigo in Puerto Rico.
He has given readings and performances throughout the
U.S. and Puerto Rico, as well as in the Dominican Republic and Perú. In collaboration with composer/musician Monxo López, he recorded the rock/spoken word DVD Kool Logic Sessions: Poems, Pop Songs, Laugh Tracts (Bilingual Press).
His work appears in numerous journals (see below) and in such anthologies as eXpresiones: generación X (Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña), Los nuevos caníbales v.2: antología de la más reciente poesía
del Caribe hispano (Isla Negra Eds.), and the forthcoming 24 Latino Poets (Univ. of Arizona Press).

Urayoán serves on the board of directors of Latino Artists Round Table and ‘Spanic Attack and is lead vocalist for the rock band objet petit a. A graduate of the University of Puerto Rico (Río Piedras) and Stanford University, he is currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at New York University. He lives, writes, and rocks in the South Bronx, near Yankee Stadium.

Christine Granados, a native El Pasoan, is a multi-tasking specialist, or as her father-in-law puts it “smart enough to know a little bit about everything and not know a lot about anything.” She is also a sleep deprived stay-at-home mother of two sons and a freelance journalist in Rockdale, Texas.

Her collection of short stories, Brides and Sinners in El Chuco was written piecemeal at three and four in the morning or while nursing her oldest son and finishing her MFA degree.

The book was published by the “kid friendly”
University of Arizona Press in 2006. She was winner of the 2006 Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation Award, a grant given by Sandra Cisneros to further the aspirations of new writers.

Her stories have been featured in Hecho en Tejas: An Anthology of Texas-Mexican Literature, Texas Observer, El Andar Magazine, Big Tex[t] and the Newspaper Tree. She is a graduate of UT El Paso's School of Communications and the “kid friendly” MFA creative writing program at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas.

Erasmo Guerra was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. He is the author of the novel Between Dances, which won the Lambda Literary Award, and he is the editor of the non-fiction collection Latin Lovers: True Stories of Latin Men in Love.

His work has appeared in a number of journals and magazines, newspapers and anthologies, including New World: Young Latino Writers, and forthcoming in Hecho en Tejas and Fifteen Candles. Guerra is a regular contributor to The Texas Observer. He has been awarded writing grants from the Vermont Studio Center, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. He graduated from the New School and lives in Washington Heights.

Sergio Troncoso, the son of Mexican immigrants, was born in El Paso, Texas and now lives in New York City. After graduating from Harvard College, he was a Fulbright Scholar to Mexico and studied international relations and
philosophy at
Yale University.

Troncoso's stories have been featured in many anthologies, including The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature (W.W. Norton), Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature (Pearson/Longman Publishing), Once Upon a Cuento (Curbstone Press), Hecho en Tejas: An Anthology of Texas-Mexican Literature (University of New Mexico Press), City Wilds Essays and Stories about Urban Nature (University of Georgia Press), and New World: Young Latino Writers (Dell Publishing).

His work has also appeared in Encyclopedia Latina, Newsday, The El Paso Times, Hadassah Magazine, Other Voices, Blue Mesa Review, and many other newspapers and magazines.

In 1999, his book of short stories, The Last Tortilla and Other Stories (
University of Arizona Press), won the Premio Aztlán for the best book by a new Chicano writer, and the Southwest Book Award from the Border Regional Library Association. His novel, The Nature of Truth (Northwestern University Press), was published in 2003, and explores righteousness and evil, Yale
and the Holocaust. Please visit his award-winning website at

Rigoberto González is the author of two poetry books, So Often the Pitcher Goes to Water until It Breaks, a National Poetry Series selection, and Other Fugitives and Other Strangers; two bilingual children’s books: Soledad Sigh-Sighs/ Soledad Suspiros and Antonio’s Card/ La tarjeta de Antonio, which was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award; the novel Crossing Vines, winner of ForeWord Magazine’s Fiction Book of the Year Award; and a memoir, Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa.

The recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, and of various international artist residencies, including stays in Spain, Brazil, Costa Rica and Scotland, he writes twice a month a Latino book column, now entering its fifth year, for the El Paso Times of Texas. He is contributing editor for Poets and Writers Magazine, a member of the National Book Critics Circle, and is on the Advisory Circle of Con Tinta, a collective of Chicano/ Latino activist writers. He lives and works in New York City.

Chicana Playwright Josefina Lopez to visit El Paso

Playwright Josefina Lopez will visit EP. Make sure to make the "Unleashing the Wild side: A Writing workshop" with Josefina Lopez.

Friday, November 10 from 1:00-3:00 pm

At the little temple (located on the EL Paso Community College Rio Grande campus),906 N. El Paso Street

(Free Parking in the lots surrounding the little


There are a limited number of seats so please call

831-2411 to sign up ahead of time!

Sponsored by: El Paso Community College & UTEP.s Women.s Studies; Theatre, Dance & Film; Creative Writing; Chicano Studies; women.s Resource Center, and Languages and Linguistics

Alberto Rios website revamped

I was flipping through the web the other day and caught on to Henry Rios’ web page and notice that it has been revamped. Pretty impressive. I miss “Red, Red, wine” though.

New Bilingual Title from CALACA Press

We mentioned this in our last “Libros, Libros” publication.” YOU CAN DOWNLOAD IT HERE. But we received an email about it so here it is again:
AQUI ESTAMOS...YA NOS VAMOS, HERE WE ARE...HERE WE GO by Bustos, Francisco J. & Wickert, Michael Cheno
$12.00 / Paper / pp.96 Calaca Press/RedCalacaArts, 2006 ISBN: 0-9717035-5-8
Poetry. Fiction. Latino/Latina Studies. This bilingual collection of poetry and prose by Francisco J. Bustos and Michael Cheno Wickert explores the unique relationship between people and the places they inhabit in the San Diego-Tijuana metropolitan area. As Bustos writes in his introduction: "there are those that say that here, there are only tornadoes wherefrom shadows come, step-on, usurp and shake to then leave; or, at times, to stay and rule temporarily, scarring our homes, our streets and our communal spaces. But there are also those who are aware of the shadows that envelop us; and so we confirm, between fragments and imbalances, that here, we can also witness the birth and flowering of a multifaceted culture which navigates and struggles to liberate itself...here, mixture is the root, and the root that we bear within simultaneously leaves its mark with every step we take."

Authors of Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption to read in Minneapolis, MN

Join authors of Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption who will be reading from their work on November 18th from 7 to 9 pm at the Barbara Barker Center for Dance, 500 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN. more info

Carlos Morton in Poland

Just got an out of office reply from Carlos. Looks like he’ll be in Poland until Aug. 2007. Wow.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Guest post by the Dean of Chicano(a) Literary Criticism, Felipe Ortego y Gasca


By Felipe de Ortego y Gasca

Scholar in Residence, Western New Mexico University, Silver City, New Mexico

I was stunned by the email from Carlos Muñoz informing us that Octavio Romano had died on February 26. He was 82 (1923-2005).

I always thought of Octavio as indestructible. Yet here was the unexpected word that he had passed on. I was stunned. I mourn for Octavio not just because he was one of the leading luminaries of the Chicano literary renaissance, but because Octavio was one of those rare visionaries who tread the “boards of life” all too often unsung for the roles they have played in signif­icant events.

He deserves our most profound mourn­ing. Despite our differences over the years, I admired and respected him for his singular contribution to Chicano letters and for his dedication to the cause of Chicano literature. I venture to say that Octa­vio Roma­no gave Chicano literature its primary direction.

Octavio Romano and I met for the first time in Las Cruces, New Mexico in the summer of 1966, when I was an Instructor of English at New Mexico State University and he was visiting Las Cruces with his wife whose mother lived there.

I was still new on campus having only in 1964 left Jefferson High School in El Paso (where I had been a teacher of French) to join the English department at New Mex­ico State University, a relatively small agriculture school then just up the road from El Paso.

By the strangest of circumstances Octavio and I met on cam­pus in front of the library. We exchanged greet­ings and paused to chat. He told me who he was and offered that he was just strolling the campus. He and his wife were visiting relatives in Las Cruces. That serendipitous meeting changed my life.

I didn’t know that then, and would not until the end of that decade when I undertook the study of Backgrounds of Mexican American Literature at the University of New Mexico, first work in the field.

During that chance encounter I suggested a cafesito. Octavio and I talked about sundry academic topics over coffee and pan dulce. He explained that he was an anthropologist in the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley, having just received his Ph.D. in 1962. He also explained that he had worked briefly for the Public Health Department in Santa Fe.

I was sur­prised, for I had never met a Mexican American an­thropologist. I learned that he had received his B.A. at the University of New Mexico in 1952, the year I left the University of Pittsburgh where I had studied from 1948 to 1952. We swapped war stories. He serv­ed in Europe with the army during World War II. I served in the Pacific with the Marines.

I told him about my interests in literature and that I had just completed a study of Hamlet. He too was interested in literature, he remarked.

So much so that he and a cohort of Mexican Americans in the Bay Area, including John Carrillo, Steve Gonzales, Phil­lip Jimenez, Rebecca Morales, Ramon Rodriguez, Armando Valdez, and Andres Ybarra, had been think­ing about publishing a literary journal dedicated solely to Mexican American thought and expression.

That piqued my interest. He said he’d send me info as the journal developed. We parted and met irregu­larly over that summer.

Toward the end of the fall semester of that year, I received a note from Octavio with details about the journal which would be called El Grito: Journal of Mexican American Thought and would be published by Quinto Sol Press.

The symbolism did not escape me. The term “Chicano” was still percolating on the ideological stovetops of many Mexican American activists. Octavio encouraged me to submit work to El Grito. Several of my pieces were published in that first volume of El Grito. I thus became one of the Quinto Sol writers.

However, what radiated elán from the Quinto Sol enterprise was the editorial on the frontispiece of Volume 1 Number 1 of El Grito in the Fall of 1967: that publication of El Grito was a manifesto that Mex­ican Americans would be judges of their own cultural works; that Mexican Americans would speak for themselves henceforth, and that all Anglo discourse about Mexican Americans was suspect and, therefore, would be challenged.

This discourse, the editorial asserted, “must be stripped of its eso­teric and sanctified verbal garb and have its intellec­tually spurious and vicious character exposed to full view.” That has always struck me as a courageous pronouncement.

But the significance of that edito­rial lies in its last paragraph: “Only Mexican Ameri­cans themselves can accomplish the collapse of this and other such rhetorical structures by the exposure of their fallacious nature and the development of intellectual alternatives.”

That was the key: “intel­lectual alternatives.”

The rest is history. El Grito became the premier jour­nal of the Chicano literary movement, not the only one, but it led the way. There is no doubt in my mind that without El Grito the Chicano literary move­ment would have developed differently–if at all.

Without El Grito there would have been no Premio Quinto Sol, an award many of us in Chicano literature came to regard as equivalent to the Nobel Prize or, at least, the Pulitzer.

Who would have pub­lished Rudy Ana­ya’s Bless Me, Ultima? Some other publisher, perhaps, in an alternative dimension or universe.

This scenario reminds me of the film It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart who as George Bailey, the despondent president of a Savings and Loan Credit Union on the verge of bankruptcy, wish­es he had never been born and then learns how im­portant his life has been when the angel Clarence, who had negotiated that wish with God, makes it clear to George that since he had never been born he had never “touched” the lives of those he held dear in the life he did live. Octavio Romano touched many lives.

Manuel Delgado, a student at Berkeley in 1969, re­members Romano as a middle-aged guy in wrinkled khaki pants and a white shirt the day Romano at­tended a meeting of the Mexican American Student Confederation, precursor to MEChA on campus.

Romano and the Chicano students were trying to get a Chicano history course approved at Berkeley for the Spring Quarter of 1969. UC Berkeley was the last of the California campuses to offer a Chicano studies course.

Octavio Romano was tapped as the Instructor for The Mexican American Population 143X, a social analysis course which he described as overdue (Daily Californian, January 6, 1969).

Roma­no went on to say that the course would help to offset the John Wayne syndrome afflicting the Amer­ican population vis-à-vis Mexican Americans, closing with the prophetic words: “the Chicano must realize that he must regain control of his historical function.”

That was Romano’s consistent theme: Chicanos must define themselves.

This self-defini­tion was the same clarion call I sounded as I pre­pared to teach the first course in Mexican American literature at the University of New Mexico in the fall of 1969. There was a surprising congruency be­tween Octavio’s political philosophy and mine.

More importantly, though, Octavio Romano was a pragmatist in the Greek sense of ideation and ac­complishment. That is, for the Greeks praxis is the ideation of deeds and pragma is the deed done, actu­ally bringing them to fruition.

All too often in life, there is a disconnect between what we think should be and its actualization. El Grito (the journal) was actualization of the need for Chicano self-expression in a time when that need was paramount and urgent.

For me, the consequence of that actualization was a direction that gave impetus to my life not only in letters but in Chicano literature. Without Romano’s influence I would probably have completed a disser­tation on Chaucer, which was already in progress, before I decided to write a dissertation on Mexican American literature instead, not knowing it would be the first in the field.

That was how profoundly Octa­vio Romano affected my life.

My first efforts as one of the Quinto Sol writers were published in Volume 1 (1967-1968) of El Grito– “The Coming of Zamora” (a short story based on the trial of Reies Lopez Tijerina) and “The Mexican-Dixon Line” (about the Southern plantation mental­ity in the Hispanic Southwest).

In 1969 Octavio Roma­no published El Espejo–The Mirror: Selected Mexican-Amer­ican Literature, the first “anthologi­cal” salvo of Mexican American writing in the Chi­cano era, in effect “the first anthology of Chicano literature published by Chicanos” (1972, viii).

That September, I reviewed the anthology for The Nation, describing it as “a brown paperback book reflecting ‘brown’ literary hopes and aspirations in this country,” adding that “El Espejo represents the first fruits of a struggling nascent effort on the part of a nueva ola (new wave) of literary Mexican Amer­icans.”

This review engendered my concept of “The Chicano Renaissance” which was published in the May 1971 issue of Social Casework. In the fifth print­ing of El Espejo (1972), Octavio listed the Quin­to Sol writers as part of the introduction he and Herminio Rios wrote (xi-xii).

In 1971 Octavio Romano published Voices: Read­ings from El Grito 1967-1971, in which he included my piece on “The Mexican-Dixon Line.” My aca­demic and literary odyssey led me hither and yon in the 70’s and distanced my contact with Octavio.

That distance, however, did not lessen my regard and admiration of him and his consistent efforts in promoting Chicano literature. Without Octavio Roma­no and Quinto Sol Publications and El Grito would we know about Tomas Rivera, Rudy Anaya, Estela Portillo, Rolando Hinojosa, Jose Montoya, Alurista, and the host of other Quinto Sol writers?

For me, Octavio Romano was la joya inesperada, shining in a firmament of jewels that has become Chicano literature.

Copyright ©2007 by the author. All rights reserved.

Quinto Sol Writers 1967-1972

[From El Espejo (5th Printing), 1972, xi-xii]

Acosta, Oscar Zeta


Alvarez, Jorge

Alvarez, Salvador

Alvidrez, Samuel

Anaya, Rudolfo

Arias, Ron

Avendaño, Fausto

Ballester, Paula

Barron, Robert

Burruel, Francisco

Calderon, Bernie

Candelaria, Frederick

Cardenas, Rene

Carrillo, John

Castañeda, Irene

Castillo, Guadalupe

Chacon, Estelle

Chavez, Cesar

Chavez, Mauro

Clark y Moreno, Joseph

Cobos, Georgia

Cuadra, Ricardo

De Anda, Diana

De Anda, José

De la Guerra, Pablo

De la Torre, Alfredo

Elizondo, Sergio

Espinoza, Raul

Espinoza, Rudy

Estupinian, Rafael

Figueroa, B. G.

Galarza, Ernesto

Gallegos, Alberto

Galvez, Javier

García, Juan

García, Juan Antonio

Garcia, Mario

Garcia, Richard

Garcia, Rupert

Garza, Carmen Lomas

González, José Elías

González, Josué

González, Rafael

González, Steve

Guevara, Juan

Gutiérrez, F. N.

Gutiérrez, José Ángel

Gutiérrez, José E.

Guzmán, Ralph

Haws, Jak

Haro, Robert

Hinojosa, Rolando

Hijar y Haro, Juan

Israel, Harry

Jiménez, Francisco

Jiménez, J. Philip

Lefler, Clara

Lopez, Diana

López, Héctor

Maldonado, Jesús

Marín, Reymundo

Martines, Al

Martines, John

Martínez, Thomas

Mejia, Victor

Méndez, Miguel

Montiel, Miguel

Montoya, Jose

Montoya, Malaquias

Morales, Armando

Moreno, Raquel

Moreno, Steve

Najera, José

Navarro, J. L.

Noriega, Ramses

Olivas, Richard

Ornelas, Charles

Ortega, Frank

Ortego, Philip (Felipe)

Ortiz, Orlando

Padilla, Ernie

Padilla, Raymond

Perez Díaz, Roberto

Ponce, Miguel

Portillo, Estela

Ramírez, Javier

Ramírez, Manuel III

Rey, Tony

Reyna, Thelma

Ríos, Francisco

Ríos, Herminio

Rivera, Félix

Rivera, Tomas

Rodríguez, Ramón

Romano, Octavio

Salaz, Rubén Dario

Salinas, Guadalupe

Salinas, Ricardo

Sanchez, Armand

Sanchez, Ricardo

Segade, Gustavo

Sierra, Pedro Ugalde

Sol, Paco (pseudonym)

Torres, Jose

Torres, Salvador

Trujillo, Manuel

Vaca, Nick

Valdez, Armando

Vasquez, Ricardo

Vega, William

Velez, Carlos

Vigil, J. M.

Villa, Esteban

Villagomez, Edel

Villanueva, Tino

Villareal, Alberto

Villavicencio, Silvio

Yañez, Rene

Ybarra, Banjamin