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

Octavio Romano

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Press Spotlight: University of New Mexico Press and Roberto Avant-Mier Reading


Roberto Avant-Mier Reading
Scholar talks of connections between Mexico and Blues

Last night, Roberto Avant Mier gave a presentation on his new book Rock the Nation: Latin/o Identities and the Latin Rock Diaspora at the East El Paso Barnes and Noble. 

The session opened with some music by a young guitarist / singer Christina Gurrola (‘Chrissy’) before Avant Mier launched into his talk.

Focusing on the connections between American Blues and Mexico, he talked about "The X" radio station which broadcast from Mexico and was the source of a variety of music from country, religious, and "race music" like the blues. Many blue musicians came out of Texas, Avant-Meir says, and many of them had worked along side Mexicans in the cotton fields and other places. For this reason, among others, many blues musicians make references to "going to Mexico" or to Mexican food. 

Subsquently many of these references and themes carried over into rock 'n roll as rock musicians copied the blues masters. 
Avant-Mier also spoke of Mexican rhythms used in rocks songs, even present ones. He played samples of this music while he gave the talk.

A performance by and book signing followed the performance by Rafa Pistola and the Immigrant Noise.

Roberto Avant-Mier is a native El Pasoan and will begin teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso this year.


The founding of the University of New Mexico Press (note, their website is currently undergoing reconstruction) goes father back then many of the presses we've mentioned. It was founded in 1929 and publishes books on the culture of New Mexico and the West, American Indians, anthropology, archeology, art, and photography, Chicano Studies, and Latin America. It also publishes literature and biographies.

The press runs 23 or more series including Historians of the American West Series, Paso Por Aqui Series of Nuevomexican Literary Heritage, and the Jewish Latin American Series. For their submission guidelines, CLICK HERE.


[Hardcover] University of New Mexico Press (November 15, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0826348947
Jose Rivera

In 1900 Celedonio Mondragón and several other San Luis valley residents formed the Sociedad Proteccion Matua de Trabajadores Unidos (SPMDTU) to help prevent the usurpation of Hispanic land ownership and to combat discrimination against wage laborers.

The SPMDTU rapidly grew into a tristate organization with sixty-five local concilios (lodges) in New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. Hispanic mutual aid societies proliferated at the turn of the twentieth century, providing such services as religious aid, burial funding, low-cost insurance, and fraternal support.

The SPMDTU consolidated relief and support services and became a powerful force in helping families survive the transformations wrought by the influx of Anglos, the federal government, and new technologies.

In the early twentieth century, the federal government became the primary welfare service provider for rural communities, but the SPMDTU has survived in the Southwest, continuing its traditions of fellowship and support.

Beginning with the social and economic conditions that gave rise to La Sociedad and culminating with its centennial anniversary in 2000, José Rivera examines the SPMDTU as a case study of collective action in the context of a pluralistic American society, rapid social change, and the dynamics of mobilization for cultural survival.

Rivera's study explores the core values that have bonded SPMDTU members across generations and have sustained the organization for more than a century and addresses the question of whether or not La Sociedad will survive in the twenty-first century.

(Spanish Edition) [Hardcover]
University of New Mexico Press; Bilingual edition (July 16, 2010)
Language: SpanishISBN-10: 0826347916
Nasario Garcia

The author of Tiempos Lejanos: Poetic Images from the Past returns to his roots in a new and exciting book of poetry about his childhood in Guadalupe, New Mexcio, originally called Ojo del Padre, presumably in honor of a priest who discovered a still-bubbling spring in the area.

The village of Guadalupe is no more, but Garcia's vibrant word pictures transport us to a time and place of true community and existence. 

Written first in Spanish, then translated to English, these poems paint his young life and the lives of his family members and neighbors in west central New Mexico in the mid-twentieth century. Garcia's perceptions of a wider world and all it includes, but still anchored in the routines of home and play and work, were imparted by his mother who never attended a day of school in her life.

[Hardcover] University of New Mexico Press 
(August 16, 2010)ISBN-10: 0826348882
Romin Teratol (Author), Antzelmo Peres (Author), Carol Karasik (Editor)

Travel writing, the literary exploration of other cultures, has long been a tradition in the English-speaking world. This book turns the tradition on its head and records what is surely the first Maya literary exploration of the United States.

The authors were Tzotzil-speaking Zinacantec Maya who accompanied Robert Laughlin, the compiler of "The Great Tzotzil Dictionary of San Lorenzo Zinacantan", on two trips to the United States.

These were action-packed journeys. On the initial voyage, in 1963, they were in the United States for the assassination of President Kennedy. 'The murderer had never met the President. 

He never had spoken a single word to him. He didn't even know him!' one of the Zinacantecos reports. They also met Margaret Mead at an American Anthropological Association meeting and flew on their first plane, which they referred to as a 'buzzard machine'.

On the second trip, in 1967, they visited the Navajo and Zuni reservations, stormed the Pentagon with a protest march, and met the Mexican actor Cantinflas, who had just had a facelift.

It took Laughlin several years to persuade his companions to write about their travels. Laughlin notes that Romin Teratol confided to him before returning to Zinacantan, 'If I tell people what I saw, nobody will believe me.' Published here with Laughlin's more academic account of his introduction to life among the Zinacantec Maya, these remarkable travelogues shed light on both Maya and American societies.

University of New Mexico Press
(November 15, 2010) ISBN-10: 0826349188
Gregory B. Weeks (Author), John R. Weeks (Author)

The politics, social issues, and cultural impacts of Latin American migration to the United States are often studied by historians and political scientists, but the regional focus is typically on the Southwest and California.

This study examines the phenomenon of the impact of Latin American migration on the southeastern United States, a region that now has the nation's fastest growing immigrant population.

Incorporating a political demography approach, this study seeks to provide a clear understanding of the complex dynamics of migration with particular emphasis on the unique demographic fit between the United States and Latin America.

This fit arises from one region needing young workers while the other has more than its economy can absorb. Although a relatively simple concept, it is one that has largely been ignored in the political discussions of migration policy. This study argues that the social and political ramifications of and policy responses to Latin American immigration can best be understood when viewed in light of these circumstances.

University of New Mexico Press (October 15, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0826349633
E. A. " (Author), Tony" (Author), Mares (Author)

E. A. Mares never crossed paths with the great New Mexico sculptor Patricio Barela, but the conversations he imagines with this gifted Taos artist (c. 1900 1964) are uncannily vivid and persuasive. Readers of Mares's play about Padre Martinez, another historic Taoseno, know that Mares is able to channel spirits.

The poet and the ghost of the sculptor, conversing like two old men at the Geronimo Lounge, find much in common. For readers unfamiliar with Barela's art, photographer Miguel Gandert and artist Frank McCulloch have contributed illustrations to bring his magnificent expressionist carvings to life.

University of New Mexico Press 
(September 15, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0826348629
Demetria Martinez (Author), Rosalee Montoya-Read (Author) 

Grandpa Luis loves to have his grandchildren, Alejandra, Daniel, and Benjamin, visit him in his hometown of Chimayo, New Mexico, and is happy to make a fresh batch of homemade tortillas whenever the children want them.

One morning, Grandpa Luis leaves a tortilla on the griddle too long, almost burning it. Grandma puts the crunchy tortilla aside for Grandpa's lunch quesadilla, but not before the children discover something very unusual about the tortilla. Benjamin has seen the perfect shape of a bear, but Daniel swears he saw a dolphin.

When Alejandra goes for a second look, all three of them watch as the body of the bear changes into a dolphin and then into a coyote right before their eyes. Word spreads quickly and soon the neighborhood children are clamoring to see animals appear in the magic tortilla.
(Women's Biography Series)[Paperback]
University of New Mexico Press (March 31, 2010) ISBN-10: 0826348106
Simon Cordery

A life touched by tragedy and deprivation -- childhood in her native Ireland ending with the potato famine, immigration to Canada and then to the United States, marriage followed by the deaths of her husband and four children from yellow fever, and the destruction of her dressmaking business in the great Chicago fire of 1871 – forged the stalwart labor organizer Mary Harris 'Mother' Jones into a force to be reckoned with.

Radicalized in a brutal era of repeated violence against hard-working men and women, Mother Jones crisscrossed the country to demand higher wages and safer working conditions.

Her activism in support of American workers began after the age of sixty. The grandmotherly persona she projected won the hearts, and her stirring rhetoric the minds, of working people.

She made herself into a national symbol of resistance to tyranny. Sometimes exaggerating her own experiences, she fought for justice in mines, factories, and workshops across the nation. For her troubles she was condemned as 'the most dangerous woman in America'

At her death in 1930 at the age of ninety-three, thousands paid tribute at a Washington, D.C., memorial service, and again at her burial in the only union-owned cemetery in America in the small mining town of Mount Olive, Illinois.

As noted in The New York Times, the Rev. W. R. McGuire, who conducted her burial, said, 'Wealthy coal operators and capitalists throughout the United States are breathing a sigh of relief while toil-worn men and women are weeping tears of bitter grief.'

The courage of Mother Jones is notorious and admired to this day. Cordery effectively recounts her story in this accessible biography, bringing to life an amazing woman and explaining the dramatic times through which she lived and to which she contributed so much.

No comments: