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

Octavio Romano

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chapbooks losing their chapyness? Part III; New Chicano Titles in June; updates on Octavio Solis, Ben Saenz, Houston School

Are chapbooks losing their chapyness, part III
Chapbooks and Self Publication

by Raymundo Eli Rojas


One thing that is great about Chicana(o) writers is that we don't need to wait around for others to publish us.

I tell young writers who are concerned that they have not published a book -- not even a chapbook -- not to wait around for others to publish you.

Master of Self-Publication

My favorite poet was Lalo Delgado. Lalo printed one book with someone else. Everything else was pretty much self-published. Now, I may be wrong. When I made a bibliography of Lalo's writings for him, he remarked a la Ricardo Sanchez, “faltaste papel?”

If any of you were blessed to hear Lalo read, he always carried around this black box-briefcase that he would open right after readings and lay out this chapbooks to sell.

Nevertheless, many a poet has gone to their graves with publications in hot university presses and New York presses, yet, they remain unknown to their gente.

There is  a drawback

There is a drawback, carnales y carnalas. With much of Lalo's work, the small printings that were done, the books are in the hands of collectors and maybe a few libraries. In doing critical analysis, it is difficult to find his works.

Publishing big helps us bring our words to our gente. Shit, I just contradicted myself. Well, let's put it this way: not many of us have the reputation Lalo Delgado, much less the personality or panza. All we have to rely on our writings, so God help us.

By publishing with big New York presses y lo de mas, we are breaking barriers. Remember, as I said in the last two installments, there was a time when New York was not publishing us, much less university presses. So put yourself out there.

But before that big book contract arrives (and why not after), don't be afraid to put out a chapbook. Enter a chapbook contest or use your own funds to publish a chapbook.

Plenty of years ahead for world-wide and historical recognition

I know what you thinking, “oh but if I publish a chapbook, my 'first' book won't be critically acclaimed."

Don't worry. Especially for you young writers -- you have plenty of time.

Let's do the math:

Say you are a 25 year old writer, and most Noble Laureates in Literature are over age 60 when they win the prize (I pulled that age out of my ass, don't quote me on it).  If you are male, you can expect to live to 81.5. That's 56 years more to win the Nobel. 

If you are a women, it's even longer. If you are a Rojas women (avg. life expectancy 100), even longer. If you are somewhere in between the genders, sorry I can't help you with the life expectancy. Blame the government.

I remember when....I knew her when...

Aside from making Chicano(a) Literature survive, aside from being economical, aside from being a form of rebellion, the chapbook often gives (forgive the cliché) a portrait of an artist as a young (wo)man.

People want to see how you were writing before that Pulitzer came, before New York came calling, before your agent responds to your email for you.

Another reason to self publish, is today's grassroots publishers become tomorrow elitist publisher, getting published gets stickier and stickier. Selection committees are filled with conflicts of interest, sanchos, carnales and more. Who you know is a big factor just as writing good shit is a big factor.

Now, I'm not dissing my carnalas and carnales who have become successful (read Sandra Cisneros is a Sellout!: Our Love Hate Relationship with Successful Chicano(a) Authors). But it seems the more educated I've become, the more I miss that old time rock n' roll. I've become more critical. I miss when I was less critical. The older older we get, aside from  Metamucil, the more we dislike shit. 

The more critical I've become, I may have become one of those elitist writers (I've become elitist, I'm still waiting for the success to come my way). Hold on, let me take a sip of my wine and eat my cheese...

So what do I tell young writers -- publish yourself, but also send out your stuff.

It's not to say that you should publish crap. The last thing we want is crapbooks! Select some of your best stuff or have a more veteran writer help you select your best stuff. Go see a printer, and publish yourself.

Now for veterano writers, especially those with money: It is nice to see a veterano writer publish a chapbook now and then. I think Ana Castillo just put one out. It's nice to see that she returns to the grassroots publication mode. Now I'm not in favor of the $40 dollar chapbook, but why not. 

Take your seat in your office, take a peak at the Pulitzer and the Nobel medal on the mantel, and for grassroots sake, write out a chapbook.

Only remember, if you are going to publish a chapbook, publish a chapbook. Don't publish a book! Keep in simple. Remember, “chap” is derived fro cheap. Keep your chapbooks them chaparito. Use you at-home printer. If you have a few bucks, see a local printer. They can run a few hundred for you or more. Print on demand. If you run out, order or print some more.

In this way, you will always have something to sell at your readings, and who knows, that chapbook may become a collectors item someday.

Everywritersresource.com's list of Chapbook publishers. Read the list.


(University of Arizona Press (June 13, 2009ISBN 978-0-8165-2917-9)
Luis Urrieta Jr.. 

Combining approaches from anthropology and cultural studies, this book examines how issues of identity, agency, and social movements shape the lives of Chicana and Chicano activist educators in U.S. Schools. Luis Urrieta Jr. skillfully utilizes the cultural concepts of positioning, figured worlds, and self-authorship, along with Chicano Studies and Chicana feminist frameworks, to tell the story of twenty-four Mexican Americans who have successfully navigated school systems as students and later as activist educators.

(St. Martin's Griffin/Thomas Dunne Books, June 2010 ISBN: 978-0-312-59308-7)
M. Padilla. 

Inspired by their good-natured rivalry, career-oriented best friends Julia Juarez and Ime Benevides have never let anything come between them. Then enters Julia's new coworker, Ilario, who pulls both women's heartstrings, disrupts their friendship, and brings Julia's career to the brink of disaster. 

Looking for support, Julia turns to her other friends: Concepción, a party-obsessed dance instructor; Nina, a timid but shrewd seamstress who's not too taken with her fiancé; and Marta, owner of the Revolutionary Cantina, who is preoccupied with the details of a Hollywood murder case. 

When they involve Julia in a risky scheme, she must choose between her loyalty to her friends and a chance to live the life she's worked so hard to achieve. Boasting irreverent, edgy humor and a clear sense of Southern Californian culture, this hilarious, insightful debut novel by award-winning author M. Padilla brilliantly captures the comforts and dangers of friendship. http://us.macmillan.com/thegirlsfromtherevolutionarycantina

(LSU Press; 2010, $17.95)
 J. Michael Martinez

Martinez, winner of the 2009 Walt Whitman Award (selected by Juan Felipe Herrera) surgically dissects Chicanismo into three sections; Etymology, Corporeity and Archetype, each which translates into an authentic and more modern examination of the mental and physical existence of Chicano identity. In the poem sub-titled, To Possess Identity, Difference Must Be Gathered, Martinez writes, “I said. I am Mexican, next I can be a Chicano, she with the hole at the end of identity.


Saenz meditates

Check out this post on PBS New Hour's Art Beat. CLICK HERE. It has Ben Saenz reading from his poem "Last Meditation on Living in the Desert":

"I want everyone who comes to my funeral to keep repeating
Goddamnit it's hot.  This will make me smile."  -- Benjamin A. Saenz

Thanks to Rich Yanez for sharing this post on the the Kentucky Club in Cd. Juarez with quotes from Ben Saenz:

Drug cartel violence may doom famed Kentucky Club, Ciudad Juárez institution since prohibition

Interview with Octavio Solis

Check out this SF Public Press interview on Octavio Solis on living in San Fras, nostalgia for El Paso, and more: Playwright Octavio Solis: ‘Shake These People Up’

"I would never have written “Lydia” if I lived in El Paso or Dallas. I am aware of the issues that LGBT people face every day here."

Q: Will you stop writing about Texas?
I kind of cherish Texas and, at the same time, revile it. ... But I’ll never leave (El Paso) because so much of who I am is still there. It’s a city on the cusp of two eras, two countries, two ways of life, two ways of seeing the world. ... I was raised half a mile from the border. ... I will go back to El Paso a lot

Houston School to Close after 90 years

"After 90 years, Houston Elementary School is closing its doors." El Paso Times. READ MORE. 

The link we share with you today is: The Corporate Crime Reporter.

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