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

Octavio Romano

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Feliz Cumpleños a Nuestro Poeta laureado chicano Abelardo Delgado

Abelardo B. Delgado
(Nov. 27, 1930 - July 23, 2004)
En la vida y en la mas allá,  seguir siendo nuestro poeta laureado chicano

Con Mis Versos

Con mis diversos
casi versos
mato mitos
y destapo verdades
empolvadas por siete siglos
de mentiras.
Con mis versos
planto azucenas
sobre cadenas
de gente.
Esclavizada por si misma.
Con mis versos
arrullo a los enamorados
empapados y pegados
con su propio sudor
de amor
en un lecho ajeno.
Con mis versos
hago a los sordos
escuchar el canto
de los madrugadores pájaros.
Con mis versos
visito otros universos
aun no descubiertos
y sin boleto de viaje.
Con mis versos
lleno tinajas de chia
en Chiapas
y se las llevo
a los Zapatistas en la selva
para que luzcan bien
sus caras escondidas
y sus miradas encendidas.
Con mis versos
les arreglo a los indocumentados
pasaportes anaranjados.

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(c) Abelardo Delgado. From La llorona; 43 llorona abelardo. Barrio Publications, 1997. Published with permission of the estate of Abelardo Delgado

Thanksgiving in America by Felipe Ortego

From The National Hispanic Reporter, November 1991; posted on the Deming Headlight, November 25, 2010.
By Felipe de Ortego y Gasca

In most enterprises, moments of thanks- giving take place for safe arrival or deliverance. The story about the first Thanksgiving in America credits the Pilgrims at the Massachusetts Bay Colony celebrating their safe arrival at the Atlantic frontier of the “new world”.

That band of Pilgrims set sail from Plymouth, Eng­land, on September 15, 1620 on the Mayflower with 103 religious dissenters on board. Their original destination was the Virginia colony, but they put to at Cape Cod on November 19, and set foot on Plymouth rock (Massachu­setts) on December 21 (December 11, Old Style).

It is recorded that these Pilgrims came to America to escape religious persecution in England; they actually came to practice Puritanism, a religious fundamentalism of intolerance that eliminated parliamentary government in England between 1649 and 1660.

The Pilgrims who came to America were not just sim­ple religious conservatives persecuted by the King and the Church of England for their unorthodox beliefs. They were political revolutionaries who meant to over throw the Eng­lish monarchy and did in 1649. Noble as their victory was, Puritan tyranny simply replaced royal tyranny.

But in 1620, the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony were outcasts who could not fit into English mainstream society. They regarded their Wampanoag Indian benefactors as their enemy, as noted in the Plymouth Thanksgiving ser­mon of 1623 by Mather the Elder who gave special thanks to God for the devastating plague of smallpox that de­stroyed the majority of the Wampanoag Indians. He prais­ed God for eliminating “chiefly young men and children, the very seeds of increase, thus clearing the forests to make way for a better growth.

To the Pilgrims, the Indians were heathens and, there­fore, instruments of the Devil. Squanto, the only educated Wampanoag among the Indians, was regarded as merely an instrument of God set in the wilderness to provide for the survival of the Chosen Elect–the Pilgrims.

Records are not very clear about when the Pilgrims celebrated that first Thanksgiving. And stories about that first Pilgrim thanks- giving have been embroidered with touches of Indian charity helping those Pilgrims through their first rough winter in America.

But at that first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Plantation in 1621, Pilgrim friendship was feigned and the peace of­fered tenuous. A generation later when the population shift favored the whites. Puritans slaughtered Indians genocidal­ly in the conflict that has become known as King Philip’s War, after which King Philip of the Indians was beheaded and the Wampanoags sold into slavery. So much for the myth of harmony about that first Thanks­giving.

The myth of that first Thanksgiving actually came into being during the 19th century when the national goal of assimilation emerged as a way to homogenize a diversity of people into a unified nation through a common national (albeit mythical) history.

But the Pilgrim Thanksgiving of 1621 was not the first thanksgiving in America. In 1513, Juan Ponce de Leon pro-claimed thanksgiving when his crew put ashore on what is now St. Augustine, Florida. In his account of the Conquest of Mexico, Bernal Diaz notes a moment of thanks­giving in 1519 joined by Cortez and his men for safe passage to what is now Veracruz, Mexico.

A story of thanksgiving is told about Panfilo de Narva­ez and his expedition to Florida in 1526. Another story of thanksgiving is told about Coronado and his men, taking place on the banks of the Rio Grande near present-day San Elizario, Texas, in 1540 near what is today El Paso. And on September 8, 1565, Don Pedro Menendez declared a day of thanks before begining construction of St. Augustine, Florida. Stories of thanksgiving abound.

Mention is made here and there in American history about a national day of thanksgiving. On October 3, 1863, for example, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a day of thanks­giving . And in 1905, Theodore Roosevelt issued a proclamation declaring November 12 as a day of thanks­giving. Not Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving Day did not actually become a national holiday until December 26, 1941, with House Joint Reso­lution 41 (77th Congress, 1st Session) declaring the 4th Thurs­day in Novem-ber as Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving is a day all Americans commemorate. But Thanksgiving is not a proprietary holiday. The Pil­grims didn’t invent it. Nor did the Spanish. But when we think of the first thanksgiving we need to look at the for­gotten (some would say “neglected”) pages of American history. For the history of the United States during the period when its lands were Spanish is as much a part of American history as is the history of the period when its lands were Eng­lish.

More importantly, perhaps, is to remember that as a national holiday, Thanksgiving Day is of recent origin, belonging to the children of the 20th century. It’s time to re-commemorate Thanksgiving Day as a day of hope for the American children of the 21st century.

Copyright © 1991 by the author. All rights reserved.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fusilamiento de Felipe Angeles

Fusilamiento de Felipe Angeles

En mil novecientos veinte
señores, tengan presente
fusilaron en Chihuahua
a un general muy valiente. De artillero comenzó
su carrera militar,
y en poco tiempo llegó
a ser un gran general.
El gobierno comprendió
los males que iba a causar,
y mandó que lo persiguieran
pa’ mandarlo a fusilar.
Con veinte hombres que traía
puso cuatro de avanzada,
para ver si no le tendían
una terrible emboscada.
En el cerro de la mora
le toco la mala suerte,
lo tomaron prisionero,
lo sentenciaron a muerte.
El reloj marca las horas
se acerca la ejecución,
preparen muy bien sus armas
y apúntenme al corazón.
Apúntenme al corazón,
no me demuestren tristeza,
a los hombres como yo
no se les dá en la cabeza.
Ya con esta me despido
por las hojas de un granado,
aquí termina el corrido
de un general afamado.

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Friday, November 25, 2011

New Acquisitions Novemver 2011

New Acquisitions for November 2011
Two New Gems from Wings Press on Lorna Dee Cervantes; Southern Latino Cooking from North Carolina Press; Rudolfo Anaya Plays on Univ. of Oklahoma Press; Pedro Moya de Contreras off Unv. of OK
The following review copies have been received by Pluma Fronteriza:

Billy the Kid and Other Plays
(Chicana and Chicano Visions of the Americas series)
Paperback Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press (December 10, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0806142251 ISBN-13: 978-0806142258
Rudolfo Anaya (Author), Cecilia J. Aragon (Afterword), Robert Con Davis-Undiano (Afterword)

While award-winning author Rudolfo Anaya is known primarily as a novelist, his genius is also evident in dramatic works performed regularly in his native New Mexico and throughout the world. Billy the Kid and Other Plays collects seven of these works and offers them together for the first time.

Like his novels, many of Anaya’s plays are built from the folklore of the Southwest. This volume opens with The Season of La Llorona, in which Anaya fuses the Mexican legend of the dreaded “crying woman” with that of La Malinche, mistress and adviser to Hernán Cortés. Southwestern lore also shapes the title play, which provides a Mexican American perspective on the Kid—or Bilito, as he is known in
New Mexico—along with keen insight into the slipperiness of history. The Farolitos of Christmas and Matachines uncover both the sweet and the sinister in stories behind seasonal New Mexican rituals.

Ciento: 100 100-Word Love Poems
Paperback Wing Press 978-0-916727-84-0
ePub ISBN: 978-1-60940-153-5
Kindle ISBN: 978-1-60940-154-2
Library PDF ISBN: 978-1-60940-155-9
by Lorna Dee Cervantes
  • In this delightful book, Lorna Dee Cervantes has undertaken a mad discipline: the 100 word format unleashes paradoxically vast effects. Full of playfulness, rage and her traditional fire, Ciento is a masterful performance. (The title, said out loud, not only means "100," but can be read in another way to say: "I feel.") These are the world's biggest, deepest, miniatures. You will dip into it again and again.
    — Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Hummingbird's Daughter and The Queen of America
  • Come down from your Tower of Loneliness and enter the hurly burly of Love in Lorna Dee Cervantes' magnificent book of poems, Ciento: 100 100-Word Love Poems. Each poem is 100 words long. Each poem overflows with an abundance of poetic energy, insight, eroticism, and above all, humor. Someone once said you know when you've read a good poem because when the poem stops, you go through the windshield. In this collection, you go through the windshield at almost every line. As Lorna Dee says in her poem "100 Words to the Chaos (Without You)," whatever pattern of attraction she has for you, the reader, she longs to "lay it on a Fibonacci /sequential spiral dance to you." Buy this book. Read it. It'll keep you young and in love forever.
    — E. A. "Tony" Mares, author of With the Eyes of a Raptor and Astonishing Light: Conversations I Never Had With Patrociño Barela

Stunned Into Being: Essays on the Poetry of Lorna Dee Cervantes
Paperback Wings Press 9780916727888 ||
by Eliza Rodriguez y Gibson

Editor Eliza Rodriguez y Gibson writes that Lorna Dee Cervantes' phrase “the poetry of improbability” describes perfectly “the critical possibilities of poetry: it juxtaposes the horrors of nuclear weapons testing with images of beauty; it gives the ineffable mass and color; and ultimately, it presents the reader with a choice that is predicated on our agency as thinking and doing subject in the world...Ultimately that sense of possibility is what drives Cervantes' vision, and it is what draws so many readers to her work”

Pedro Moya De Contreras: Catholic Reform and Royal Power in New Spain, 1571-1591
Hardcover Univ of Oklahoma Pr (Trd); 2 edition (March 15, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0806141719 ISBN-13: 978-0806141718
Stafford Poole (Author)

A definitive portrait of a Spanish cleric and royalist who fundamentally shaped New Spain, updated in light of newly available sources.

For a brief few years in the sixteenth century, Pedro Moya de Contreras was the most powerful man in the New World. A church official and loyal royalist, he came to Mexico in 1571 to establish the Inquisition and later became archbishop and viceroy for the region. 

This new edition of Stafford Poole s definitive portrait of Moya de Contreras, first published in 1971, now offers an expanded understanding of this enigmatic figure s influence on the development of New Spain. In tracing the career of a sixteenth-century church official and administrator who was more notable for what he did than for who he was, Poole offers a rich source of information about Spanish rule in colonial Mexico and the evolving relationship between the Spanish monarchy and the Catholic Church. 

For this second edition, Poole draws on newly available sources to fill in gaps regarding Moya de Contreras s shadowy early career and final years in Spain. He also explores in greater depth the churchman s influence as Grand Inquisitor in light of the plethora of new research and recent publications on the Spanish Inquisition.

Poole shows that Moya de Contreras was as diligent at carrying out the tortures of the Inquisition as he was at exposing government and church corruption. His reforming zeal reached its culmination in his leadership of the Third Mexican Provincial Council of 1585, which enacted a legal code for the Mexican Church that lasted more than three hundred years.

The New Southern-Latino Table: Recipes that Bring Together the Bold and Beloved Flavors of Latin America and the American South
Hardcover Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press (August 15, 2011)
Language: English ISBN-10: 0807834947 ISBN-13: 978-0807834947
Sandra A. Gutierrez (Author)

In this splendid cookbook, bicultural chef Sandra Gutierrez blends ingredients, traditions, and culinary techniques, creatively marrying the diverse and delicious cuisines of more than twenty Latin American countries with the beloved food of the American South.

The New Southern-Latino Table features 150 original and delightfully tasty recipes that combine the best of both culinary cultures. Sandra, who has taught thousands of people how to cook, highlights the surprising affinities between the foodways of the Latin and Southern regions--including a wide variety of ethnic roots in each tradition and many shared basic ingredients--while embracing their flavorful contrasts and fascinating histories.

These lively dishes--including Jalapeno Deviled Eggs, Cocktail Chiles Rellenos with Latin Pimiento Cheese, Two-Corn Summer Salad, Latin Fried Chicken with Smoky Ketchup, Macaroni con Queso, and Chile Chocolate Brownies--promise to spark the imaginations and the meals of home cooks, seasoned or novice, and of food lovers everywhere. Along with delectable appetizers, salads, entrees, side dishes, and desserts, Sandra also provides a handy glossary, a section on how to navigate a Latin tienda, and a guide to ingredient sources. The New Southern-Latino Table brings to your home innovative, vibrant dishes that meld Latin American and Southern palates.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

El Paso Writers Update for Nov. 20, 2011

El Paso Writers Update for Week of Nov. 20, 2011
News on Troncoso, Gilb, Jesus Tafoya, Octavio Solis, Luis J. Rodriguez

Praise for Dagoberto's Gilb's New Book

I'm sure everyone got to see the New York Times feature on Dagoberto Gilb. If not, check out From Here to Oaxaca by Bridget Kevan: "Where are we when we are before the end yet after the beginning? We are in the midst of life, where everything happens. Before the end and after the beginning, one celebrates a perfect sixth birthday, looks for a job, has an affair, remembers old girlfriends, suffers a stroke. These are the moments Dagoberto Gilb describes in his elegiac third story collection, “Before the End, After the Beginning.” READ MORE.

Of interest also out of Victoria, Texas is UHV writer-in-residence draws national praise for latest book (Victoria Advoacte).

Also check out this short review by Susannah Meadows in the New York Times. READ IT NOW
and this youtube presentation: See it now


Troncoso on a Role

If you missed Sergio Troncoso's reading at UT El Paso a few weeks ago, check out this You Tube video of the reading: Sergio Troncoso Reading.

Also check out this piece on the Hudson Valley Writers Gala which honored Sergio Troncoso among others. Read now. Troncoso has posted several reviews of his novel From This Wicked Patch of Dust on his website. Read Reviews Now.

Octavio Solis' "June in a Box"

Check out this piece about Octavio Solis' play "June in a Box": "Solis, who wrote Cal Shakes' epic saga "Pastures of Heaven," became intrigued with the story of June Robles, a 6-year-old girl kidnapped on her way home from school and held for 19 days in a box in the Arizona desert. He wondered how she managed to survive and what the effect the experience had on her later in life. The result of his investigations is a dreamlike, hauntingly lyrical piece of theater that stirs the imagination long after you leave the theater." READ NOW.

Ruben Salazar Honored

The Paso Del Norte Civil Rights Project honored Ruben Salazar at their annual Annual Fiesta Fronteriza. Read more . 

Luis J. Rodriguez on Occupy America

Check out Luis J. Rodriguez blog post The Heart of Occupy America:
"In the early hours of Tuesday, November 15, New York City police officers attacked and removed Occupy Wall Street Protestors from Liberty Plaza in the city’s financial district, leading to many arrests and the removal of tents, property, and other items. This is Ground Zero for the Occupy Movement sweeping across the United States and other parts of the world." READ MORE.

4th Annual McNair-Tafoya Symposium

Sul Ross State University held its fourth annual McNair-Tafoya Symposium on Monday at the Morgan University Center. The university's McNair-Tafoya Symposium is named in memory of Jesus Tafoya, an associate professor of Spanish, who died in 2008 and who was a mentor from the beginning of the McNair program. Read More.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Honoring America's Veterans By Felipe de Ortego y Gasca

American soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meus in France. Foto taken on November 11, 1918, two minutes before the armistice ending World War I went into effect. --Department of Veterans Affairs.


Previous version titled “Veteran’s Day: Pain and Promise” appeared in Newspaper Tree, November 10, 2008; Silver City Daily Press, November 11, 2008; La Prensa, San Antonio, Texas, November 11, 2007. Posted on Somos en Escritos: Latino Literary Online Magazine.

By Felipe de Ortego y Gasca

Since the founding of the nation, some 48 million men and women have served in the U.S. military. More than half are alive today. A small number of World War II veterans are still with us, though they are dying at the rate of about 1,000 a day.

In the United States there are two days that honor American veterans: one is Memorial Day — the last Monday in May — and the other is Veteran’s Day —each year on November 11.

Some sources indicate that Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic when, as decorations, flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

In May of 1966, President Lyndon Johnson officially declared Waterloo N.Y. as the official birthplace of Memorial Day. In December of 2000, Congress passed the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution to remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Until 1968 when the Congress established the Uniform Holiday act and moved Memorial Day to the last Monday in May, the nation celebrated Decoration / Memorial Day on May 30th as a day of remembrance for Americans who died in battle.

On January 19, 1999, efforts were made to restore Memorial Day back to May 30th instead of “the last Monday in May,” the traditional day of observance of Decoration / Memorial Day. The efforts were unsuccessful. 
In the 20th century, the War of nations (World War I) ended on the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 and the day was proclaimed as Armistice Day in remembrance of the end of World War I and is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
By Executive Order, in November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. The day was later renamed Veterans Day to honor those who have served in any of the armed forces during war.

Each year on November 11, the nation celebrates that legacy and commemorates its contribution to the American character. In 2004 the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to name the city of Emporia, Kansas, as the official founding city of Veterans Day.

When World War II ended in August of 1945, I was 19 years old and a Sergeant in the Marine Corps. I had survived the vagaries of that grueling war and, putting my uniform aside, went out into the world to make my “fortune” with the 16 million men and women who served in that effort.

What that fortune would be, I had no idea. Thanks to the University of Pittsburgh (1948-1952) that fortune has turned out to be an academic career spanning almost six decades and a staggering production of published words. All this with only one year of high school and no GED.

What I knew at war’s end was that as a World War II veteran the promises of America strengthened my resolve to confront the challenges of the nation at mid-century. What I also knew was that as a veteran I was part of a legacy of military service stretching back to the foundations of the nation.


n Veterans Day, in particular, I think about the youth of our nation fighting in brutal climes like Afghanistan and Iraq. I think about Willie Bains, a companion of my youth who went off to the European Theater during World War II and never came back. We should have grown old together and reveled in conversations about our children and grandchildren.

On Veterans Day, especially, I think about the World War I veterans I used to see in my youth on the streets of San Antonio, Chicago, and Pittsburgh, hawking paper poppies (symbolic of Memorial Day) for donations.

Inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields” (December 18, 1915) by Lt. Colonel John McCrae a Medical Doctor of the Canadian Army, Moina Michaels initiated the tradition of sporting poppies on Decoration/Memorial Day.

I remember how many veterans of World War I in my youth were without limbs, how many of them were blind, how many of them had grown old before their time, had given up on life and the promises of their country — all this after having given themselves to America.

Though they are less, today I see maimed and crippled veterans of World War II struggling to come to terms with the visions they still carry in their heads about that conflagration.

And now in our nation there are veterans of Viet Nam and subsequent battles waiting for the largesse of the nation to heal them of their wounds, to succor them in their time of need.

The nation has not served its veterans well, those who gave their full measure of devotion “to protect and defend.” This is not a panegyric to the nobility of war, for there is little nobility in the ravages of warfare. Memorial Day and Veterans Day should be a reminder to all of us that, despite our differences, regardless of color, religion, ethnicity, or gender, we should pay homage to our fellow Americans who have defended the ramparts of our democracy even though that democracy has at times disdained their service.

Memorial Day and Veterans Day are flitting moments in the enduring cycle of nation-building. We have not yet formed “a more perfect union.” Ronald Reagan’s shining city on the hill still awaits us while the blood of our children is spent today on campaigns that remind us of Greek and Roman excursions into foreign lands in pursuit of empire.

And what of the veterans of those campaigns? Those men and women who have sacrificed (and are sacrificing) so much in pursuit of an imperious chimera whose flight takes (has taken) us into perilous regions. What of their sacrifices? All the sacrifices of our veterans over the life of our nation create a collectivity of patriotism dedicated to the ideals of the nation rather than to the vagaries of its politics. For that reason we should honor our live and fallen veterans on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
--John McCrae

Felipe de Ortego y Gasca is Scholar in Residence, Chair, Department of Chicana/Chicano and Hemispheric Studies, Western New Mexico University; USMC, World War II, 1943-1946 (Platoon Sergeant); USAF, Korean and Viet Nam Conflicts, 1952-1962 (Active Duty: Captain; Major, USAFR)

Copyright © 2009 by the author. All rights reserved.