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

Octavio Romano

Sunday, April 29, 2007

New Anthology Shows the Best of Latino(a)/Chicano(a) Poetry in the Last Ten years

I want readers to make extra effort to check out The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry (University of Arizona Press), edited by Francisco Aragón with forward by Juan Felipe Herrera. I was impressed by this collection since the book includes every major new Latino(a) and Chican(a) poet. All, with exception of five of the poets, have published one book since 1997, so being the first book to give us a full glimps of Latino(a) and Chicano(a) poetry going back ten years. Of the poets from El Paso (or born) are Albino Carillo, Sheryl Luna, and Carolina Monsivias. Rosa Alcalá is currently teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso’s MFA program and Emmy Pérez left UTEP for TX Pan Am University in the valley just recently.

This is a fun book because I remember receiving the fresh copies of some of their first (or second or third books). In the last ten years, I had the opportunity to review Francisco Aragón, John Olivares Espinoza (Go Indio!), Carolina Monsivais, and Steven Cordova.

I think editor Franciso Aragón has been instrumental in helping to bring many of these writers as some of them were first published on Momotombo Press: Brenda Cárdenas, Steven Cordova. But also other presses have played role in bringing these poets to light: University of Arizona: Richard Blanco, Albino Carrillo, David Dominguez, Gina Franco, Carl Marcum, María Meléndez. Curbstone Press: Naomi Ayala. Swan Scythe Press: John Oliveres Espinoza, Emmy Pérez. Wings Press (which was instrumental in bring out many young Tejana poets): Carolina Monsivais, Deborah Parédez. Other poets have been publishing in journals and on the web, thus showing the increasing popularity of web publishing.

So take a look at these publishers as they are putting out our newest poets, but be careful, don’t send them the cheap stuff.

There are a few poets I think should have been in here, but I’ll save it.

Well here some books we want to mention.

LUDLOW (Red Hen Press 2007 ISBN: 978-1-59709-083-4) by Davis Mason

Davis Mason's LUDLOW is a magnificent novel in verse, having the speed, concision and accuracy of poetry with the expansiveness and character of a novel. It tells the searing story of a handful of immigrants (Greek, Mexican, Scottish, Italianâ) in southern Colorado, climaxing in the Ludlow Massacre of April 1914. "LUDLOW bowled over me with its dramatic power, kept me reading on, under its spell. This violent chapter in American labor history richly deserves a poem of epic size, and David Mason, outstanding poet and long-time resident of Colorado, is the man to deliver it. Unforgettably, its characters practically step off the page. Here is a major poem bursting with life, a book with greatness written all over it" -- X.J. Kennedy.


TALK SHOWS (Switchback Books 2007 ISBN: 978-0-9786172-0-2) by Monica de la Torre. TALK SHOWS is accomplished translator Monica de la Torre's first book of original poetry in English. "De la Torre's poetry deconstructs sets of beliefs about what it means to be a multi-dimensional subject and turns markers of gender and race on their so-called ears. Identity and gender politics are folded neatly into smart disses and observations on the specifics of cultural play and gaff, making this a book to be reckoned with" - Lee Ann Brown.


New Fiction from Freedom Voices

STORIES FROM EL BARRIO (Freedom Voices 2007 ISBN: 978-0-915117-11-6), Piri Thomas. Piri Thomas, who reached millions of readers with his best-selling autobiography, Down These Mean Streets, now gives readers of all ages a vivid slice of the life in El Barrio ”a place where people face their problems with energy, ingenuity and love. He draws vivid stories from his past experiences and makes us feel what it means to be poor and proud and generous; to be streetwise and full of bravado but frightened, too; to struggle to go straight; to be ashamed of being ashamed; to dream. Speaking in the voice of the streets and from his heart, Piri captures the spirit, the laughter and the hope of his people.


New from Zephyr Press

LETTERS FROM MISSISSIPPI: REPORTS FROM CIVIL RIGHTS VOLUNTEERS AND FREEDOM SCHOOL POETRY OF THE 1964 FREEDOM SUMMER (Zephyr Press 2007 ISBN: 978-0-939010-92-9), Elizabeth Martínez. This expanded edition includes over forty pages of poetry by students in the Freedom Schools of 1964, adding the lively voices of local participants, mostly teenagers, to those of the volunteers from the North. The new edition also includes an additional dozen biographies, resulting in a wider resource for scholarship and for a general understanding of this critical moment in civil rights history.


New Poetry from Bilingual Review Press

CENTRAL AMERICA IN MY HEART/CENTRO AMÉRICA EN EL CORAZÓN (Bilingual Review Press 2006 ISBN: 978-1-931010-39-9), Oscar Gonzales. Facing page translation. In this touching tribute, Gonzales expresses nostalgia for the beauty of his native Honduras, sharing his passion and sense of loss. Vacillating between rage and undying love, Gonzales' poems express his deep cultural appreciation for the people of his homeland while he reveals their struggles and berates a corrupt and unjust political and economic system. Inspired by Pablo Neruda, Roberto Sosa, and Jorge Luis Borges, Gonzales hopes to "lessen the antipathy within Honduras and awaken a social consciousness" through his poems, which are presented in both Spanish and English. Gonzales was awarded Yale University's coveted Theron Rockwell Field Prize in 1991 for his anthology of poems Donde el plomo flota (Where Lead Floats). He was the first undergraduate to receive the award.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Chicano(a) Art; Arte Publico Press book wins award; First book on Chicano artist Gronk; Cubans beyond Miami; Call for stories

El Paso Community College Spring Art Festival Gala Reception & Awards Ceremony

Make sure to attend the Spring Art Festival Gala Reception & Awards Ceremony, Thursday, April 26, 2007, 5:30 p.m. at the ASC Auditorium,

9050 Viscount, El Paso, Texas.

Don’t miss the fun – music, refreshments, art exhibit, student awards, poetry and literary readings, fashion show, and distribution of the new CHRYSALIS edition!

As a special highlight to the evening, Amado M. Peña, Jr. and his wife, J.B., will be joining us and will be selling his latest art work in all price ranges in the ASC Board Room from 5:00 to 8:30 p.m. Amado will sign each purchase for you!

Artist Vania Soto to have art show

Latina Artist Vania Soto with connection of Kansas City, Cd. Juárez, and El Paso will be having at art show tomorrow, April 26 at 119 N Bridge St. Smithville, Missouri 64089 just north of Kansas City. 6-8:30pm. Check out this Kansas City artist.

News from Arte Público Press: Jose Angel Gutierrez and Victor Villasenor

Arte Público Press has informed Pluma that their The Making of a Civil Rights Leader (Pinata Books, 2005), by Chicano political legend Jose Angel Gutierrez has been selected for inclusion in the New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age 2007 annual listing. Also, Victor Villasenor’s bilingual picture book, Little Crow to the Rescue/El Cuervito al Rescate (Piñata Books) was named the inaugural winner of the Lacapa Spirit Prize, which is sponsored by the Northern Arizona Book Festival and Northland Publishing. www.artepublicopress.com.

The first major book devoted to the influential Chicano artist.

The University of Minnesota Press has released GRONK by Max Benavidez
(95 color photos ISBN: 978-0-89551-105-8 | hardcover (comes with DVD about the artist)(also in paperback), A Ver Series.

This is the first major book devoted to the influential Chicano artist.

Gronk was born in 1954 in
East Los Angeles. He began his career as an urban muralist and has grown into an international figure who has created sets for operas and computerized animation for panoramic screens. In this sweeping examination of Gronk’s oeuvre, Max Benavidez elucidates how the artist can cross genres, sexual categories, and ethnic barriers, yet still remain true to himself. From street murals to mail art, from large-scale action painting to performance art and operatic set design, Gronk has made a lasting mark on the Chicano art movement, the punk scene, gay art, and the cultural world stage.

“There is no question that underrepresented artists like Gronk are a vital part of 21st century art history.” —
Los Angeles Times

“Benavidez offers a riveting, clear-eyed and contextualized midcareer examination of Gronk’s development not only as an artist but also as a person.” —
El Paso Times

For more information, including the table of contents, visit the book’s webpage:

For more information on the A Ver Series:

A pioneering look at the influence of Cuban-American culture—beyond Miami

U of Minnesota Press has also put out CULTURAL EROTICS IN CUBAN AMERICA by Ricardo L. Ortíz (2006 ISBN 978-0-8166-4795-8)(also in paperback).

A pioneering look at the influence of Cuban-American culture—beyond Miami.

Looking beyond
South Florida, Ricardo L. Ortíz addresses the question of Cuban-American Diaspora and cultural identity by exploring the practices of smaller communities in such U.S. cities as Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. Highlighting various forms of cultural expression, Cultural Erotics in Cuban America traces underrepresented communities' responses to the threat of cultural disappearance in a hegemonic U.S. culture. Focusing on artists who have had an ambivalent, indirect, or nonexistent connection to Miami, he presents close readings of such novelists as Reinaldo Arenas, Roberto G. Fernández, Achy Obejas, and Cristina García, the playwright Eduardo Machado, the poet Rafael Campo, and musical performers Albita Rodríguez and Celia Cruz.

For more information, including the table of contents, visit the book’s webpage:

Plan Ahead to attend C.M. Mayo Events this Summer

July 21, 2007 Queretaro, Mexico
Mundo al Mundo / World to World Translation Workshop. C.M. Mayo to present Tameme (www.tameme.org), Mexico: Traveler's Literary Companion (www.cmmayo.com/mexico.html), and offer a talk about publishing literary translations. More information about this event at www.cmmayo.com/events.html.

September 12, 2007 New York City
King Juan Carlos I of
Spain Center, New York University and the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York. C.M. Mayo to present her anthology of Mexican fiction and literary prose, Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion, with Mexican writer Monica Lavin and others. More information at www.cmmayo.com/events.html.

New book on Human Rights and Guatemala

The University of California Press has just released To Save Her Life: Disappearance, Deliverance, and the United States in Guatemala (ISBN 978-0-520-24597-6) by Dan Saxon. Eric Stover, author of The Witnesses: War Crimes and the Promise of Justice in The Hague says “"Dan Saxon has written a compelling and provocative book about the checkered history of United States involvement in Guatemala and the politics of human rights activism. Read this book and you will understand why the way in which we respond to human rights crimes often says more about our humanity than the abuses themselves.”

Part human rights drama, part political thriller, part love story, this riveting narrative chronicles the disappearance of one woman as it tells the larger story of the past fifty years . . .

For more information, click on To Save Her Life

Monica Gomez and David Williamson to give next Tumblewords Workshops in El Paso

Where: Memorial Park Public Library 3200 Copper Avenue (915) 566-1034

Cost: Free, but donations accepted for the presenter

When: All events are Saturday afternoons from 12:45 to 2:45

Contact: Donna J. Snyder (915) 328-5484 tumblewordsproject@yahoo.com or Ken Kenyon kenktx@aol.com or (915) 490-6672.

Tumblewords meets Saturdays 12:45 to 2:45 at the Memorial Park Library. This group has met regularly for over 11 years, providing a supportive, non-threatening environment for writing and reading aloud of work in any format written by the participants on that day.

On 5 de Mayo Monica Gomez will present "Dust Mote or Goddess?" Gomez, Songwriter, guitarist, vocalist, humorist, arts educator, motivational speaker, martial artist, broadcast professional, and poet, believes "Poetry is the ultimate introspective exercise. It turns us inside out so we can see how beautiful we are...especially the parts we thought were too dark to share. "

On May 12, David Williamson will present "Semantic Relativity." Wiliamson is a local writer, musician, and scholar making a return appearance as Tumblewords presenter.

Non-Profit seeks immigrant stories for anthology

A non-profit group is seeking to create an anthology of first-person personal histories of undocumented workers in the U.S. They have special need of Mexican and Central American accounts and can provide interpreters to work with willing participants.

The author of this series is looking for individuals who would be willing to tell their stories and will honor any need for confidentiality (especially from attorneys and clients) and will be scrupulous in respecting that need.

Below is their press release about the project. You can contact Peter Orner, editor at peterorner@aol.com.


book series


By allowing the victims to speak for themselves, the Voice of Witness series seeks to empower those people most closely affected by human-rights crises. Each book in the series is:

• A ground’s-eye view of crucial social-justice issues.

• Designed to appeal to everyone from students to policy-makers.

• Filled with enthralling narratives that will grip any reader.

• Exhaustively fact-checked and confirmed with both the narrators

and primary source documents.

• Carefully edited to maintain the narrators’ unique voices, and the

integrity of their stories.

Voice of Witness is a non-profit organization. All sales proceeds go toward funding future books.

Coming in 2007:



Immigrants who come to America illegally often find themselves subjected to dehumanizing conditions. What’s more, if their employer wrongs them, they have no legal recourse. Should being an undocumented worker preclude a person from being provided their basic rights?

The third book in the Voice of Witness series will feature the stories of men and women who have come to America seeking a better life for themselves and their families. Their struggles to fit into a society that refuses to recognize their existence are often tragic, and sometimes shocking. They are people working in the most dangerous and demeaning jobs, without the benefit of medical coverage or a living wage. Still, undocumented workers come from every corner of the globe and occupy positions in myriad industries. The American economy depends greatly on immigrant labor, yet the government does not provide for their safety or well being. It is a growing disparity and one that constitutes a genuine human-rights crisis.

Peter Orner—acclaimed author of The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo—will guest-edit Undocumented Workers (working title), and his San Francisco State University graduate students will help conduct the interviews.

The book will be produced with the utmost respect for the privacy requirements of the narrators, and as with all VoW books, our staff will work closely with the interviewees to maintain the factual accuracy of the stories.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions about the book or the series.

Undocumented Workers: The Plight of Illegal Immigrants in the U.S.

Edited by Peter Orner Contact: peterorner@aol.com

Coming in Fall 2007

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Chicano poem put to song; Rigoberto Gonzalez reviews; Racist Houston Mayor; Grande wins Premio Aztlan; Espada readings

Check out Rigoberto Gonzalez’ Review of Alex Espinoza’s Still Water Saints


Award-winning classical music groups to cover Jalapeno Blues

Songwriter, Gabriela Frank has written music for Chanticleer using poet, Trinidad Sanchez, Jr.'s poetry from his latest book, Jalapeno Blues. The songs will be introduced at the following event:

Minnesota Public Radio presents Chanticleer in concert at The Fitzgerald Theater on Wednesday, May 23, 7:30 p.m..

Praised by the New York Times for its "precise, pure, and deeply felt singing," and by the Los Angeles Times for its "luxurious perfection," Chanticleer vocal ensemble were honored with a 2003 and 2004 GRAMMY® awards.

Chanticleer has developed a remarkable reputation for its vivid interpretations of vocal literature, from Renaissance to jazz, and from gospel to venturesome new music. With its seamless blend of twelve male voices, ranging from countertenor to bass, the ensemble has earned international renown as “an orchestra of voices.” Based in
San Francisco, Chanticleer has developed a remarkable reputation for its vivid interpretations of vocal literature, from Renaissance to jazz, and from gospel to venturesome new music.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Houston's Mayor Pro Tem Michael Berry insulted American Indian
listeners during his talk show on slavery and Indians on KPRC Radio
950. The American Indian Genocide Museum in
Houston urges others to

Houston's Mayor Berry said:

"We need to stop wasting all this time and energy apologizing to the
American Indian, which we continue to do ... We give them casinos, we
give them special licenses, we give them special scholarships and why
I don't understand .."

" We conquered them, that's history - Hello "

" You got to be against giving welfare to the American Indians
because of the fact , that 200 years ago they were whipped in a war.
Lets just call it what it is, they lost a war."

His websites:



email Michael Berry: iam@michaelberry.com

Contact Houston City Council members: http://www.houstontx.gov/

Reyna Grande Wins Premio Aztlán Literary Prize

The University Libraries at the University of New Mexico recognizes emerging writer, Reyna Grande, an English as a Second Language and Citizenship Teacher at the Los Angeles Unified School District, as the winner of the 2006 Premio Aztlán Literary Award. Ms. Grande will receive $1,000 and deliver a public lecture on Thursday, April 26 at 4 p.m. in the Willard Reading Room in UNM’s Zimmerman Library. Prior to the reading, a talk for students takes place, also in the Willard Reading room, at 11 a.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

Across a Hundred Mountains is a stunning and poignant story of migration, loss, and discovery as two women -- one born in Mexico , one in the United States -- find their lives joined in the most unlikely way. The phenomenon of Mexican immigration to the United States is one of the most controversial issues of our time. While it is often discussed in terms of the political and economic implications, Grande, with this brilliant debut novel and her own profound insider's perspective, puts a human face on the subject. Who are the men, women, and children whose lives are affected by the forces that propel so many to risk life and limb, crossing the border in pursuit of a better life? Grande’s book, published by Atari Press Simon and Schuster, will be available for purchase at the event.

Reyna Grande, born in Guerrero , Mexico , in 1975, followed her parents to the United States at nine years of age. She graduated from the University of California , Santa Cruz , in 1999 and was named a PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Rosenthal Fellow in 2003. She lives in Los Angeles with her son.

The Premio Aztlán Literary Award is a national literary award, established to encourage and reward emerging Chicana and Chicano authors. Renowned author, Rudolfo Anaya and his wife, Patricia, founded Premio Aztlán in 1993. The prize was reestablished in their honor in 2004 by the University of New Mexico Libraries

To be considered, each entrant must have authored no more than two books as well as being active in the Chicana/o community. Former Premio Aztlán recipients, Denise Chavez, Pat Mora, Alicia Gaspar de Alba and Sergio Toncoso and Mary Helen Lagasse, have become well-known literary figures.

For more information about Premio Aztlán Literary Award, contact Teresa Marquez at: or phone (505) 277-0582.

Martin Espada Readings until end of May

April 27: Reading, 10AM, Crispus Attucks Middle School, Indianapolis, IN, Contact: Rafael Méndez, RMendez@imcpl.org

April 27: Reading, 7:30PM, Etheridge Knight Festival of the Arts, Basile Theater, Indiana History Center, Indianapolis, IN, Contact: Eunice Knight-Bowens, EKFestival@aol.com

May 1: Reading, 1PM, Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School, South Hadley, MA

Contact: Erin Feldman, efeldman@pvpa.com

May 19: Commencement Address, 10:45AM, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA

Contact: Judy Raper , jraper@hampshire.edu

May 21: Lecture, 7PM, Milton Academy, Milton, MA, Contact: James Connolly