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

Octavio Romano

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

La Pinta poetry and other prison writings; New Book - La Pinta: Chicana/o Literature, Culture, and Politics; News on Ben Saenz and Cinco Puntos graphic novel

Pinto poetry and other prison writings

Ever since Ricardo Sanchez walked on the scene in the late 1960s, the pinto poet has been a mainstay of Chicano Literature. This is not to say that there were no Chicano prison writing before Sanchez, but limiting ourselves to the Chicano Renaissance, Sanchez brought pinto poetry to the main stage where Raul Salinas and Jimmy Santiago Baca would later step onto.

In Movements in Chicano Poetry: Against Myths, against Margins by Rafael Perez Torres, the author dedicates an entire chapter of the pinto in Chicano poetry. Later literary critics has focused on Judy Lucero. Miguel R. Lopez published an aritlce on Ricardo Sanchez called, "THE PINTO POET AND THE CRITIC:RICARDO SANCHEZ AND POSTMODERN THEORY."

Lopez is somewhat critical of Perez Torres analysis of pinto poetry as well as critical of Cordelia Candelaria and Gary Soto's analysis regarding early Chicano Renaissance poetry. But that's another post...

Prison writing have always been a gem for readers. From short stays like Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter from Burmingham Jail" to Leanard Peltier's Prison Writings: My Life is My Sun Dance, Mandela's writing from Robben Island, Antonio Gramci's Prison Notebooks, Ricardo Flores Magon's Prison Notebooks, and much more, the prison writing popularity remains. It would be a disservice not to mention the great Russian writers on imprisonment such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and his various writings.

I Am a Fugitive from a Georgia Chain Gang! (and later film) by Robert E. Burns was instrumental in reforming prisons in the South and getting rid of the chain gang.

 A good book is Prison Writings in 20th Century America, edited by H. Bruce Franklin which contains a host of prison writings, some by Chicanos.Wall Tappings: Women's Prison Writings, 200 A.D. to the Present edited byJudith A. Scheffler has some writing by Latinas. Since 1973, PEN has sponsored an annual literary competition for prisoners. 

New book on La Pinta

 In January, the University of Texas Press put out  

La Pinta: Chicana/o Prisoner Literature, Culture, and Politics 
 (Univ of Texas Press January 2010 ISBN-10: 0292719612), B. V. Olguín. 

Publisher's Description:
In this groundbreaking study based on archival research about Chicana and Chicano prisoners--known as Pintas and Pintos--as well as fresh interpretations of works by renowned Pinta and Pinto authors and activists, B. V. Olguín provides crucial insights into the central roles that incarceration and the incarcerated have played in the evolution of Chicana/o history, cultural paradigms, and oppositional political praxis. This is the first text on prisoners in general, and Chicana/o and Latina/o prisoners in particular, that provides a range of case studies from the nineteenth century to the present. 

Olguín places multiple approaches in dialogue through the pairing of representational figures in the history of Chicana/o incarceration with specific themes and topics. Case studies on the first nineteenth-century Chicana prisoner in San Quentin State Prison, Modesta Avila; renowned late-twentieth-century Chicano poets Raúl Salinas, Ricardo Sánchez, and Jimmy Santiago Baca; lesser-known Chicana pinta and author Judy Lucero; and infamous Chicano drug baron and social bandit Fred Gómez Carrasco are aligned with themes from popular culture such as prisoner tattoo art and handkerchief art, Hollywood Chicana/o gangxploitation and the prisoner film "American Me," and prisoner education projects. 

Olguín provides a refreshing critical interrogation of Chicana/o subaltern agency, which too often is celebrated as unambiguously resistant and oppositional. As such, this study challenges long-held presumptions about Chicana/o cultures of resistance and proposes important explorations of the complex and contradictory relationship between Chicana/o agency and ideology. 

B. V. Olguín is Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He is a poet and co-translator, with Omar Vasquez Barboza, of Cantos de Adolescencia/Songs of Youth by Américo Paredes.


Ben There Done That

We caught this blog post on the Biekergaard blog on Ben Saenz and an interview he gave with Rain Taxi. READ MORE.

The Bookish Blather has a review on Saenz' Last Night I Sang to the Monster: "While I have mixed feelings about the existence of the new BFYA list, one thing I am very positive about is Last Night I Sang to the Monster deserves to be on all sorts of "best of" lists. It's nominated for the Nerds Heart YA contest and I hope it goes far! This is definitely a title that needs more exposure." READ MORE.

Ben and Francisco X. Stork are the only Chicanos on nominated for the Best Fiction for Young Adults Nominations.

We also saw on the Cinco Puntos Press website the Ben is a finalist for the LA Book Prize.
Cinco Puntos graphic novel review

I don't know if we posted this already, but here it is again, the San Francisco Chronicle's review of Luis Urrea's graphic novel Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush off of El Paso's Cinco Puntos Press.

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