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

Octavio Romano

Saturday, July 03, 2010

New Books in July 2010 - 1970 Retrospetive: Richard Vazquez, Los cuatro, Raymundo Tigre Perez, Luis Omar Salinas


(Lyons Press July 1, 2010 ISBN-10: 1599218615)
Terry Greene Sterling

Arizona’s violent border is the busiest gateway for illegal immigration in America, making Arizona Ground Zero for the immigration debate. No state is as hostile to the undocumented, and no city is as unwelcoming as Phoenix. 

Yet Phoenix is home to thousands who live in the shadows, where civil rights are neglected and lives are lost. Illegal sheds light on the invisible immigrants who persevere despite kidnappings and drug wars, an ongoing recession, and laws barring them from working, learning, and driving. By profiling these undocumented people, and those — like notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio — who persecute them, author Terry Greene Sterling courageously reveals the changing face of immigration in America and gives new insight into a divisive national crisis.

Nation Books; 1St Edition edition  
ISBN-10: 156858449
Charles Bowde

Ciudad Juárez lies just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. A once-thriving border town, it now resembles a failed state. Infamously known as the place where women disappear, its murder rate exceeds that of Baghdad. Last year 1,607 people were killed — a number that is on pace to increase in 2009. 

In Murder City, Charles Bowden — one of the few journalists who has spent extended periods of time in Juárez — has written an extraordinary account of what happens when a city disintegrates. Interweaving stories of its inhabitants — a raped beauty queen, a repentant hitman, a journalist fleeing for his life — with a broader meditation on the town’s descent into anarchy, Bowden reveals how Juárez’s culture of violence will not only worsen, but inevitably spread north. 

Heartbreaking, disturbing, and unforgettable, Murder City establishes Bowden as one of our leading writers working at the height of his powers.

(Counterpoints: Studies in the Postmodern Theory of Education)(Peter Lang Publishing; First printing edition July 15, 2010 ISBN-10: 1433106108)

Regina Bernard-Carreño

The theory of Nuyorganics joins Nuyorican poetry to organic intellectualism. Examining its possibilities, this book questions existing theories of the dominant elite and offers new theories for those who struggle for accurate representation in their academic environments. 

It shows the importance of understanding that lived experiences are often undiscovered sources of expertise and untapped resources for both teachers and students in classrooms of higher education. Drawing attention to new ways of thinking, this book is a voice for those who have fought for a rigorous, socially just education to be the primary goal of any academic training.

(A Quinceañera Club Novel)
(Grand Central Publishing July 20, 2010 ISBN-10: 0446540528)
Belinda Acosta

Beatriz Sánchez-Milligan is shocked when her 14-year-old niece, Celeste, stumbles into her 25th wedding anniversary party. Celeste reveals that her mother, Perla, has died and that she has nowhere else to go. Beatriz immediately takes Celeste in-a decision that troubles her husband, Larry, who remembers that wherever Perla went, trouble followed. He worries his wife is rushing in without having all the facts.

Undaunted, Beatriz begins to plan a quinceañera for Celeste; but the party planning doesn't comfort Celeste, nor does it ease Beatriz's pain. She feels guilty for losing contact with Perla, and that guilt grows deeper when she meets Josie Mendoza, a journalist who reveals that Perla may have been murdered. Beatriz wants to adopt Celeste to make peace with her late sister, but Larry still has concerns. For the first time, their rock solid marriage starts to crumble, and a frightened, young girl is caught in the middle. Somehow Beatriz must find a way to save her family, before the ghosts of her past tear it apart.

(Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. July 16, 2010 ISBN-10: 0742556603)
James M. Cypher.

Written by two leading scholars, this book provides a detailed analysis of Mexico's political economy. James M. Cypher and Raol Delgado Wise begin with an examination of Mexico's pivotal crisis of the 1980s and the consequent turn toward an export-led economy, later anchored by NAFTA. 

They show how Mexico, after abandoning frequently successful past practices of state-led development, disastrously tied its future to an unconditional reliance on foreign corporations to promote an export-led growth strategy. This strategy, they convincingly argue, has resulted in a fragmented economy marked by stagnation, falling wages, informal part-time employment, and massive migration, which define daily life for all but a tiny minority.

(Dialogos Series)
(University of New Mexico Press July 16, 2010 ISBN-10: 0826344933)
Ida Altman

"The War for Mexico's West" examines a dramatic, complex episode in the early history of New Spain that stands as an instructive counterpoint to the much more familiar, triumphalist narrative of Spanish daring, resilience and victory embodied in the oft-told tale of the conquest of central Mexico.

As Spaniards consolidated their hold over central Mexico they fanned out in several directions, first entering western Mexico - the future New Galicia - in 1524. A full-fledged expedition of conquest followed several years later.

Among the loosely organized, ethnically and linguistically diverse societies of New Galicia, however, neither the Spaniards' usual stratagems of conquest nor their attempts to settle and impose their institutions met with much success.

An uprising against Spanish rule, today known as the Mixton war, erupted in 1540, attracting thousands of people from many different indigenous communities and bringing Spanish failure in the region into sharp relief.

Set within the context of the complex politics of early New Spain in which such prominent figures as Hernando Cortes, Nuno de Guzman, Pedro de Alvarado, Francisco Vazquez de Coronado and don Antonio de Mendoza vied to fulfill their ambitions in the west and incorporating accounts and testimony reflecting indigenous perspectives, Altman's treatment of the prolonged conquest of New Galicia provides the first full-length account in English of these little-known events and their consequences for Indians and Spaniards.

(Palgrave Macmillan July 20, 2010 ISBN-10: 0230619576 ),
Sharon Bailey Glasco
Chicano--Richard Vásquez

This book examines the spatial, material, and cultural dimensions of life in eighteenth-century Mexico City, through programs that colonial leaders created to renovate and reshape urban environments.

In doing so, this study reveals various points of conflict and discord over how various social groups defined and shared the public spaces in the city, and understood their place within a wider colonial system. Bailey Glasco, drawing on research from numerous archives in Mexico City, sheds new light on the critical roles that urban planning and renewal played in the social and cultural dynamics of the city, as well as how it anticipated early definitions of modern Mexican identity. 


Richard Vásquez

A bestseller when it was published in 1970 at the height of the Mexican-American civil rights movement, Chicano unfolds the fates and fortunes of the Sandoval family, who flee the chaos and poverty of the Mexican Revolution and begin life anew in the United States.
Patriarch Hector Sandoval works the fields and struggles to provide for his family even as he faces discrimination and injustice. Of his children, only Pete Sandoval is able to create a brighter existence, at least for a time. But when Pete's daughter Mariana falls in love with David, an Anglo student, it sets in motion a clash of cultures.
David refuses to marry Mariana, fearing the reaction of his family and friends. Mariana, pregnant with David's child, is trapped between two worlds and shunned by both because of the man she loves. The complications of their relationship speak volumes -- even today -- about the shifting sands of racial politics in America.

In his foreword, award-winning author Rubén Martínez reflects on the historical significance of Chicano's initial publication and explores how cultural perceptions have changed since the story of the Sandoval family first appeared in print.

Los cuartro, Abelardo Delgado, Ricardo Sánchez, Raymundo “Tigre” Pérez, and Juan Valdez
Barrio Publications 1970

The first anthology of Chicano poetry in Chicano Renaissance Literature.

LOS CUATRO IS a travesty perpetrated in madness and wishful thinking by four ape-like poets in the heat of their own loneliness and need for an articulate explosion that would rock the boat and make amerika take nooootice.

ape #1 is Lalo Delgado, a paunchy carnal with the fire of an Aztec hero and the soft lilting phrases of Cervantes;

ape #2 is Reymundo "Tigre" Pérez, a finely featured chicano with a razor sharp mind trying to dissect amerika;

ape #3 is a fiction called Juan Valdez, but the real man behind that name is Magdaleno Avila--a brute of a man in frame, but a sensitive soul writing his hurts and hopes hoping that the tide will turn and Uncle Sam might be resuscitated, for sam is very much a dead machine chewing up people just for the sake of it; and

ape #4 is an ex-con, Ricardo Sánchez ... with all the attendent hopes, wishes, needs, and hasty plots that never work for an escape from the mendacious frenetic desmadrazgo that society is ... his plans never work, he still continues being very much a social being.

this book then is the culmination of needs meeting up with resource orchestration building up to that cataclysmic crescendo when the world go ker-plunk and presto there shall blossom forth a new social order-- so some think ... still there will be madness, for it is in the human way of perceiving life that madness must ever be part and parcel of man's way ...

these selections might move you--at least some of you. those of you unmoved might need dynamite to move you, if so, you are already too lost, and we have neither time nor resources to bother with you. to those who welcome the angers, loves, joys, and madnesses in these pages, we merely shrug our shoulders in a very customary fashion and mutter: read on, read on.
let us then see, amerika, if you can stomach the desperation in our voices, if you can read us ojos-abiertos style and objectively take in our words and ideas; if after you have read you still do not make the effort to understand what we say, then perhaps it will be time for amerika to disappear once and for all ... if amerika still persists in demanding that chicanos burn down their barrios and campos before they listen to us, then amerika must be informed that La Raza will never have a watts so that los gringos can have their cheap thrills at our expense ... la verdad es que we shall not burn down our own--for if we burn, it is simply: LOOK OUT, GRINGO, LA RAZA SHALL BURN YOU DOWN-and don't think for a moment that your conscience money is going to assuage us or stop us ... your token positions mean nothing to us ... not a damn thing!
que viva la raza de bronce,
que viva Aztlán ...
libertad, justicia, tierra y dignidad ...

Ricardo Sanchez

Above, Raymundo "Tigre" Perez
Free, Free at Last,  
Raymundo (Tigre) Pérez

We don't have a review of Perez' book, Pluma Fronteriza is willing to publish a "Retro Review" of Free, Free at Last by anyone who might have a copy of Perez' classic book.  Below is a bio sketch of "Chief" Raymndo "Tigre" Perez from the Raices del Sur blog :
         La poesía de Raymundo “Tigre” Pérez es a la vez reflejo y una revelación o nacimiento del movimiento Chicano. Pérez, como sus contemporáneos, capturó e interpretó las inquietudes políticas, culturales y sociales del mundo chicano a través del verso. 
           Como muchos poetas de distintos movimientos, el visionó los significados y sentidos de un cambio social encarnado en el movimiento Chicano. 
         Inspirado por el movimiento, adoptó un rol de político trovador reuniendo su gente en torno a una revolución, con el contenido de obtener justicia social. Durante sus años peak como poeta, 1970 a 1872, Pérez defendió la revolución y retrataba “el Movimiento Chicano como el foco principal del proceso” de acuerdo al crítico Charles Tatum. 
           La poesía y la política, entonces, se fusionaron para darle al Tigre forma y un público que lo escuchaba.

        Nacido en Marzo de 1946 en un garaje de Laredo, Texas, la poesía de Pérez era cercanísima a la sociedad que describía. El creció en las calles de Laredo, como hijo de un boxeador que terminó siendo sobrecarga en barcos, y de una madre de indígena Tarascan de la región de Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, México.

             La devoción de su madre era la religión, y ella nunca perdió la fe a pesar de lo mal que las cosas estaban. El trabajo de Pérez refleja la actitud de lucha de su padre, y el espíritu femenino y persistente de su madre. 
              La revolución social y la poesía de protesta de Pérez, aparecieron a una edad temprana, eligiendo un camino de poca aceptación con sus padres, atendiendo ideales utópicos para esos tiempos. 
           En ese contexto, su abuela se transformó en su mayor influencia, tal como el ha señalado. Ella una vez le dijo: “El mundo es una bestia feroz que sólo quiere devorarte, ¡ten cuidado!” Al parecer, Pérez tomó este aviso de corazón, y aprendió a defenderse con una retórica política y el lenguaje de la poesía.

            Su interés en poesía comenzó cuando estaba en enseñanza básica, siendo ridiculizado y humillado por sus escritos. El no se insertaba bajo los conceptos establecidos por la poesía tradicional. Esta característica se encuentra durante toda su obra, es evidente, prosaico, con una oratoria directa y tono desafiante.

             Su poca conformidad, también hizo que fuera expulsado del colegio el primer año de media en el Junior Collage de Laredo. Fue calificado como terco, rebelde y soñador, fanático de hablar en público. 
             Todas las duras críticas no detuvieron a Pérez, quien continuó con sus estudios. Más adelante fue al College Metro State en Denver, y luego transferido a la Universidad de Colorado. Finalmente se graduó de la College Oberlin en Ohio, con un título en políticas sociales.

                Libre, Libre al fin (1970) uno de sus escritos más tempranos, distingue a Pérez como “uno de los primeros poetas que habló contra la guerra de Vietnam” (según el crítico Tatum) Publicado casi dos años después de la pasada de Pérez como artillero del ejercito en Hanoi, sus escritos están dedicados a “mis hermanos de armas de los Estados Unidos, de América, y del Mundo”. 
           Se proclama a sí mismo como “La voz de truenos y armas” y define paralelos entre el sufrimiento de los Chicanos en Vietnam, y la crueldad inflingida a los Chicanos cuando volvieron a USA por parte de campesinos y dueños de campos de trabajo.

            Pérez se ve a sí mismo como un espíritu salvador, hablando en nombre y defensa de su pueblo: “Soy la luz de los muertos Vivientes / El corazón de la Revolución”.

               También se ve a si mismo como un relator de eventos, el guardián de una historia que ayuda a unir el pasado, el presente y el futuro. El desea dejar remanentes, recuerdos del movimiento Chicano, porque no quiere que las generaciones del futuro olviden el motivo por el cuál son libres. 
                     Dice: “Les escribo a ustedes, personas del mañana” y personifica el movimiento como un “hijo de cualquiera” en su poema “Hasta la Victoria Siempre”. Pérez afirma su propia identidad en la poesía “El Caminante Mexicano-Americano” y realiza la pregunta retórica: ¿Qué eres tú? Al contar y describir lo que el es, en el mismo poema. 
                    El mensaje que transmite su poesía es que un fuerte sentido de autoconocimiento e identidad, es la llave para la libertad individual. El se alegra por su gente: “somos libres, libres al fin / Porque sabemos quienes somos”.

                       El retorno de Pérez a la vida civil, posterior a Vietnam, lo llevó a trabajar como organizador comunal del Programa Vista de Movilización de Minorías. También, se afilió a la Organización de jóvenes Mexicanos – Estadounidenses (MAYO). El programa fue tan efectivo que “transformó Texas en otro lugar” de acuerdo a Pérez (en su ensayo autobiográfico “El Quetzal Emplumado” 1976).

                         Más adelante comenzó a editar varios diarios alternativos chicanos. Sus títulos: “Los Muertos Hablan” “El Valle de los Lamentos” o “Tierra Caliente” son expresiones metafóricas que representan las condiciones políticas y sociales de los Chicanos en Texas.               
               Estos diarios salieron a publicación bajo estrictas y severas amenazas policíacas. La voz de Pérez, sin embargo, no calló. En los diarios encontró una forma precisa de oposición, para lo que el veía como un diario de promesas no cumplidas llamado “El Partido Viejo” que era el único existente de Laredo.

               La represión política y los atropellos terminaron en la muerte de una persona y golpes y lesiones a Pérez y los asociados a él. Forzado a dejar el periodismo de diarios subversivos, Pérez se concentró en la poesía.

            Los Cuatro (1970) dejó a Pérez como uno de los más importantes poetas del Sureste. Esta colección lo deja junto a poetas como Abelardo “Lalo” Delgado, Ricardo Sánchez, y Juan Valdez (Magdalena Ávila). Los Cuatro tipifica la conciencia colectiva de poesía chicana para esos tiempos. 
              La voz de Pérez destaca por recolectar las emociones colectivas de su gente.Traducción: Manuel O'Brien H. (gracias Manu)

Crazy Gypsy
Luis Omar Salinas
Origenes Publications (1970)
Classic collection by the late Luis Omar Salinas

Enotes states: "a collection of verse that largely explores the painful sense of alienation and loneliness resulting from the death of a mother. Although Crazy Gypsy was rushed into production — early editions are full of spelling and grammatical errors — the volume was a commercial and critical success."
Left-side photo courtesy of Karen J. McClintock

From the introduction: 

"There is a degree of surrealism in Omar's highly personalized juxtaposition of images. But we can't allow that superficial surrealism to distract us from the deeper reality of the poems." In recent years, however, scholars have asserted that the form and content of Salinas's work are inseparable, arguing that the poetry's distinctive features — economy of expression, syntactical ambiguity, and ingenious placement of symbols — have a specific thematic function.

While some have faulted his verse as ungrammatical and poorly crafted, most have agreed that Salinas succeeds in creating a poetry that simultaneously defines and preserves the Chicano experience within an Anglo-American culture.

Salinas, for his part, has stated that although his poetry contains abstract elements, his work remains grounded in the reality of the human condition, his family history, and his Chicano ancestry." --- Eliezar Risco Lozada and Guillermo Martinez 


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