Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Los Gatos Black on Halloween

Written by Marisa Montes
Illustrated by Yuyi Morales

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250079454
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250079459

Follow los monstruos and los esqueletos to the Halloween party in this bilingual poem written by Marisa Montes, with illustrations by award-winning author and illustrator Yuyi Morales

Under October's luna, full and bright, the monsters are throwing a ball in the Haunted Hall. Las brujas come on their broomsticks. Los muertos rise from their coffins to join in the fun. Los esqueletos rattle their bones as they dance through the door. And the scariest creatures of all aren't even there yet!

This lively bilingual Halloween poem introduces young readers to a spooky array of Spanish words that will open their ojos to the chilling delights of the season.

Los Gatos Black on Halloween is a 2007 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year, the winner of the 2008 Pura Belpré Medal for Illustration and a Pura Belpré Honor Book for Narrative.

Marisa Montes practiced family law and worked in legal publishing before she began writing full-time. Marissa has written several picture books, novels, and chapter books for children. She was born in Puerto Rico.

Award-winning author and illustrator Yuyi Morales is the author of Caldecott Honor and Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Medal-winning Viva Frida, Pura Belpré (Illustration) Medal and Pura Belpré (Narrative) Honor book Los Gatos Black on Halloween, stunning bilingual bedtime story Little Night/Nochecita, Rudas: Niño's Horrendous Hermanitas, and other picture books for young readers. She also illustrated Thunder Boy Jr., written by Sherman Alexie.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Through a Lens Brightly, Or Not At All. Teatro Festivals.

Michael Sedano

I chalked it up to rasquachi art enterprises and let it go. I got a copy of the publication in the mail and a private apology from the publisher who’d stolen a photograph I’d shared on social media. "I couldn't find you," he said. Now I watermark anything I post.  But it wasn’t rasquachi when a Madrileño website splashed another photograph, then groused at my fee when I invoiced them. The editor vowed never to do business with me again.

So there’s a truism in business: It’s intellectual property theft only when you get caught. Photographers', and people's rights to memories, get caught up in some institutions’ presumptions that someone in their public will make public use of images without approval nor compensation. Maybe it’s the business dictum “you don’t give away what you sell” operating in those “no photography” galleries, who have a gift shop to support. But that’s a rare attitude among first-rate places like Los Angeles’ Autry museum. That's why the prohibition on photography in one show there is so perplexing.

Most major institutions permit photography. The Louvre. The British Library. Museo del Prado. You can’t photograph Guernica in Reina Sofia. El Castillo de Chapultepec used to allow cameras, more recently I was informed a guard would take my camera if I raised it. El Museo de la Antrolopología has no qualms about lenses. In LA, LACMA, the Norton Simon, the Huntington all allow photographs, save an occasional show.
In pre-prohibition years, the foto captures the scale of Gozalez-Camarena's
magnificent evocation of 500 años cultural fusion.
There’s a special irony in prohibiting photos at a photo show, the long-sequestered negatives of La Raza newspaper. Blacking out photography is like the images came up for air, saw the light of day for a few weeks, then sank back into memory with nary an artifact to mark their place.. A third rueful irony comes in the p.r. copy for the exhibition.

archive of nearly 25,000 images created by these photographers, now housed at the Chicano Studies Research Center at UCLA, provides the foundation for an exhibition exploring photography’s role in articulating the social and political concerns of the Chicano Movement during a pivotal time in the art and history of the United States.

If photography still plays a role in “articulating etc.” there’s a big lacuna where this historic exhibit came and went with only a few “official” frames. No one is welcome to join excited gente at the exhibition, sharing reflections on important images and memories of coming-of-age events. Maybe someone sees themselves and wants a before and after portrait.

Nope. Nel. Chale. No one can grab La Raza memories off an Autry wall.

Someone—the Autry, the curator, UCLA, La Raza photographers—doesn’t want those personal images to exist. No cameras. No photography. What you remember is all you will ever have. Eventually, the exhibit will be a smear of good feeling on memory's windshield

No photography. It’s a challenging mentality. I find it mindless. In businesses other than art museums, flexibility is the best policy. Zero tolerance answers any suggestion to alter the policy. I’ve heard the arguments from curators and random Facebook flamers. No photos protects intellectual property. Punto. An absolute.

At dinner one evening I enjoyed a table conversation with various NHCC gente including the curator of the centro’s stunning El Torreón. Frederico Vigil covered the interior of the 45 foot tall cone with a raza history epic in fresco. No photos, the museum wants to control how their images are used in public. And the minimal likelihood of copyright violation by a private user? The museum has no control over who takes a photo, there might be a pro in the tower. Any private user could splash an image on their personal website without attribution, just a cool image. To assuage hurt feelings, NHCC offers a spectacular media experience on the internet. If you don’t have a screen, you’re out of luck. No personal fotos allowed.

I was happy to see the directors relent. Of course, I can take fotos of the people taking Vigil’s tour, just no direct frames of only wall.

That’s a really excellent compromise the Autry would do well to emulate. Those snapshots add to the fun of attending art shows. Fun becomes a compelling reason to return. Jackbooted absolutism gives one pause, what else will they control? Can I trust the snack bar?

The most unfortunate harm of all in the complexities of the decision to prohibit photographs falls on individuals.

What the museum or owner fears--the photograph—is a prosthesis for memory. For gente with short or damaged memories, especially, but for anyone, a foto is an aide-memoire providing substance not otherwise obtainable. So here is an ultimate irony. One’s most personal intellectual property--knowledge and experience—suffers abuse in an effort to prevent abusing intellectual property.

Magu and Beto de la Rocha pose in front of Oscar Castillo's © foto of  them with Los 4, taken 40 years earlier. Obviously,
not prohibiting fotos allowed this now rare image to exist at all. QEPD Magu.
One internet flamer huffed that I don’t know anything about curation and intellectual property if I think the Autry’s prohibition on memory mindless. Gratuitously the flamer told me not to attend if I felt that way! What dire offense from foto denial springs. Of course I’m going to attend and not take fotos. I’m a member and entry is free. Wouldn't it be ironic if I get there and discover the rumor about no fotos is chisme?

Photographer’s note; the Autry’s dim lighting makes grabbing a foto not really worth the effort. But ni modo. No fotos. Punto.

Encuentro De Las Américas Coming to LATC

Three weeks, fourteen productions, from the Américas, in English, in Spanish. Los Angeles' most local theatre west of the river.

Click here for details and tickets.

Chicago's Latino Museum in Teatro Fest

Monday, October 16, 2017

Interview of DaMaris B. Hill

Interview of DaMaris B. Hill by Xánath Caraza

DaMaris B. Hill, Ph.D.

Xánath Caraza (XC): Who is DaMaris B. Hill?

DaMaris B. Hill (DBH): The short answer is that I’m sugar&spice, scribbler&scholar, feminist in flow & digital by design. An accurate answer is more like I’m figuring it out everyday. I know who I am. I know what is important to me, but who I am as a writer changes.  I don’t rule of the work.  The work, the subjects, the characters, they tell me who they are.  They tell me what to write, sometimes they tell what I cannot say.  They correct me when I write them wrong. I define myself as a poet and prose writer. One that knows the rules of writing, but enjoys negotiating and breaking them – primarily because I don’t know of rule or a law that was designed to aid black women in my lifetime – so the time I take to analyze, negotiate and evade constraints may stem from that civic centered embodied knowledge –

XC: As a child, who first introduced you to reading?  Who guided you through your first readings? 

DBH: My parents were probably the first to introduce me to writing.  Books were everywhere in my childhood.  My parents didn’t play much music in the house.  I heard music at church or in the cars. Many people in my family, including my parents, are clergy people.  My baby food was flavored with religious metaphor.

XC: How did you first become a poet/writer? 

DBH: I became a writer, because I loved language. I think I also became a poet because it was an art form that could be jotted down on single pieces of paper and easily hidden. I didn’t tell anyone that I was a writer for a long time. My family found out when I won the Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers in 2003. That is when I finally told them. My first poems were written on church bulletins and programs – all in the margins. I also wrote them in school notebooks like most people do when they don’t have a formal journal. I never did trust diaries. I had a few, but I felt they garnered attention. Surely, someone would read a pretty ornamental diary that belongs to a curious young girl.

I think I first published my poems in a college literary journal at Morgan State University. My friend, a poet and photographer, named Anna Stone-I think she was the first to publish my work. I’m not sure what impact those publications had on me. I still get nervous when I see my work in print. I was most likely very anxious when I saw my work in print.

XC: Do you have any favorite poems by other authors?  Or stanzas?  Could you share some verses along with your reflection of what drew you toward that poem/these stanzas?

DBH: I have a few favorite poets. My love for Lucille Clifton’s work is at the top of the list. The Book of Light is the poetry book that love most. “Climbing” comes to mind as one of my favorite poems. My favorite line in the poem “her dangling braids the color of rain”. That image continues to dance in my mind.
I rise toward it, struggling,
hand over hungry hand.
I love how the image of the hair resonates with symbolism of hair in a spiritual context and a long poetic legacy.

XC: What is a day of creative writing like for you?

DBH: The best writing days begin in bed. I like it when I can write four pages on a yellow legal pad with a black extra fine point pen, before getting out. I like to sit for a minimum of four hours and write.  I never write more than two weeks in the same place; it slows my productivity. I write in several spaces.  I write at home in my study, at various coffee houses, at my office in the library at the University of Kentucky, sometimes in the car – I record my thoughts using a recorder on the phone… I try to write everyday, but I cannot write well on days I teach.  I am too distracted by time and appointments to concentrate like I like to. If I don’t write every few days, I can become a bit of a grouch.

XC: Could you describe your activities as poet?

DBH: Observing. Listening. Respecting.

XC: Could you comment on your life as a cultural activist? 

DBH: I am not good at commenting on my life as a cultural activist. I have a list of causes that are important to me. I have a list of things that I have done. Keeping these records are necessary to for my position at the University of Kentucky.  What I value is love, love as an action, love that asserted in a world that has been gorging on hate.

XC: What projects are you working on at the moment?

DBH: Currently, I am revising a manuscript for publication, A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing.   The book was recently acquired and is forthcoming with Bloomsbury Publishing.  I am very excited about this book.  The poems in A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing, honor African American women that have had experiences with incarceration, some of whom have organized resistance movements over the last two centuries.  The poems question what are the ripple effects and losses of the immediate inequalities and killings associated with this time in our collective history. I have really enjoyed creating remixes to some of the poems in this manuscript. A sample creative writing in digital spaces project that was born out of this manuscript can be found here, “Shut Up In My Bones”.  Others will follow.

XC: What advice do you have for other poets?

DBH: Read everything.  Know your tribe.  Apply to and attend writers retreats, like The Watering Hole or residencies like The MacDowell Colony, in order to get more specific training and advice – also to be in community with other poets/writers.  Try to get a bit of new art (of any medium and genre) in everyday.

XC: What else would you like to share?

DBH: Be kind to one another.

Friday, October 13, 2017

New Books

Intriguing new books from around the literary world. One novel, one novella, one poetry collection and two short story anthologies. And check out the dynamic cover art.

Proud to say that my latest short story (Night in Tunisia) debuts in the last book on this list -- Blood Business: Crime Stories From This World And Beyond.  Join several of the contributors at the Blood Business launch, November 10, 7:00 p.m. at the Tattered Cover, Denver Colfax store.

As Chuy the Cholo says, "Oye, read to succeed."

Street People: A Novella
Michael Nava
Kórima Press - October

[from the publisher]
Ben Manso drifts through life, working as a rent boy, until a casual encounter with an eight-year-old street kid named Bobby at a convenience store changes everything. When Ben sees Bobby again, the boy is with a man who claims to be Bobby’s father, but Ben suspects the man is a pedophile and the boy his captive. A third encounter draws Ben deeper into Bobby’s drama and forces him to face his own haunted past. After Ben’s well-intentioned plan to rescue Bobby puts the boy in even greater danger, Ben is forced to make a life-changing choice.

Street People is the story of lives at the margin, about the throw-away people we see without seeing, and the real meaning of family.

Michael Nava is the author of an acclaimed series of seven novels featuring gay, Latino criminal defense lawyer Henry Rios which won six Lambda Literary Awards.  In 2000, he was awarded the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement in LGBT literature.  The New York Times review of the last Rios novel called him “one of our best.”  The City of Palaces was a finalist for the 2014 Lambda Literary Award for best gay novel and was awarded the 2014 International Latino Literary Award for best novel. Lay Your Sleeping Head, a reimagining of the first Henry Rios novel published 30 years ago, was published in 2016 by Kórima Press.

University of Arizona Press

 [from the publisher]
Palm Frond with Its Throat Cut uses both humor and sincerity to capture moments in time with a sense of compassion for the hard choices we must make to survive. Vértiz's poetry shows how history, oppression, and resistance don't just refer to big events or movements; they play out in our everyday lives, in the intimate spaces of family, sex, and neighborhood. Vértiz's poems ask us to see Los Angeles—and all cities like it—as they have always been: an America of code-switching and reinvention, of lyric and fight.

Vickie Vértiz earned her MFA from the University of California, Riverside. A Macondo and VONA fellow, she is a Los Angeles–based poet writer and social justice advocate who teaches creative writing to adults and young people across the country.

Havana Libre
Robert Arellano
Akashic Books - December

[from the publisher]
In this explosive follow-up to Havana Lunar, Dr. Mano Rodriguez takes an undercover assignment to the most dangerous city in Latin America: Miami.

During the summer of 1997, a series of bombings terrorize Havana hotels. The targets are tourists, and the terrorists are exiles seeking to cripple Cuban tourism and kill the Revolution. After Mano finds himself helpless to save one of the victims, his nemesis Colonel Emilio Pérez of the National Revolutionary Police recruits him into Havana’s top-secret Wasp Network of spies for a job that only he can perform—but for reasons he never would have believed or expected.

Robert Arellano is the award-winning author of six novels including Curse the Names, Fast Eddie, King of the Bees, and Don Dimaio of La Plata. His nonfiction title Friki: Rock and Rebellion in the Cuban Revolution, will be released in 2018. He lives in Oregon. His latest novel, Havana Libre, is the standalone sequel to his Edgar-nominated Havana Lunar.

Short Story Collections

Gary Phillips, editor
Three Rooms Press - October

[from the publisher]
Noir meets diverse voices and transforms the genre into an over-the-top, transcendental psychedelic thriller ride of pulpy goodness in The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir The collection is curated by editor and award-winning crime novelist and activist Gary Phillips, and includes stories by Walter Mosley, Robert Silverberg, Nisi Shawl, Kate Flora, Christopher ChambersDésirée Zamorano and more!

In the tradition of satirical works of Swift and Twain, with nods to the likes of William S. Burroughs and Philip K. Dick, these tales contain vigilante First Ladies, Supreme Court judges who can clone themselves, gear-popping robots of doom, and races of ancient lizard people revealing their true master plan–all mashed up in the blender of fake news bots, climate change hoaxes, and outlandish spins of bizarro conspiracy theories. 

In an era where the outlandish and fantastic has permeated our media 24/7, where mind-bending conspiracy theories shape our views, The Obama Inheritance writers riff on the numerous fictions spun about the 44th president of the U.S. Contributors spin deliberately outlandish and fantastic twists on many of the dozens of screwball, bizarro conspiracy theories floated about the president during his years in office and turn them on their heads. 

South Central native Gary Phillips (editor) draws on his experiences from anti-police abuse community organizing, activism in the anti-apartheid movement, union rep, state director of a political action committee, to delivering dog cages in writing his tales of chicanery and malfeasance. He has written various novels, novellas, comics, short stories, radio plays and a script now and then. He has edited or co-edited several anthologies, and must keep writing to forestall his appointment at the crossroads. Phillips is president of the Private Eye Writers of America.

Désirée Zamorano (contributor and La Bloga friend) delights in the exploration of contemporary issues of injustice and inequity in her writing. A Pushcart prize nominee and award-winning short story writer, her novel Human Cargo, featuring private investigator Inez Leon, was Latinidad’s mystery pick of the year. She is also the author of the acclaimed literary novel The Amado Women.

Blood Business: Crime Stories From This World And Beyond
Edited by Mario Acevedo and Joshua Viola
Hex Publishing - November

[from the publisher]

Two books, one anthology.
The grift. The scam. The double-cross. Blackmail and burglary; murder and larceny. Blood Business tracks the underbelly of human nature through the muck of our lesser angels in twenty-seven crime stories set in this world...and beyond.

Mario Acevedo is the author of the bestselling Felix Gomez detective-vampire series, which includes Rescue From Planet Pleasure from WordFire Press. His debut novel, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, was chosen by Barnes & Noble as one of the best Paranormal Fantasy Novels of the Decade and was a finalist for a Colorado Book Award. He contributed two stories for the award-winning horror anthology, Nightmares Unhinged, by Hex Publishers. His novel, Good Money Gone, co-authored with Richard Kilborn, won a best novel 2014 International Latino Book Award. Mario lives and writes in Denver, Colorado
Joshua Viola is an author, artist, and former video game developer (Pirates of the Caribbean, Smurfs, TARGET: Terror). In addition to creating a transmedia franchise around The Bane of Yoto, honored with more than a dozen awards, he is the author of Blackstar, a tie-in novel based on the discography of Celldweller. His debut horror anthology, Nightmares Unhinged, was a Denver Post and Amazon bestseller and named one of the Best Books of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. His second anthology, Cyber World (co-edited by Jason Heller), was an Independent Publisher Book Awards winner and Colorado Book Award finalist and named one of the Best Books of 2016 by Barnes & Noble. His short fiction has appeared in The Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' Found anthology (RMFW Press), D.O.A. III – Extreme Horror Collection (Blood Bound Books), and The Literary Hatchet (PearTree Press). He lives in Denver, Colorado, where he is chief editor and owner of Hex Publishers   



Manuel Ramos is the author of several novels, short stories, poems, and non-fiction books and articles. His collection of short stories, The Skull of Pancho Villa and Other Stories, was a finalist for the 2016 Colorado Book Award. My Bad: A Mile High Noir was published by Arte Público Press in 2016 and was a finalist for the Shamus Award in the Original Paperback category sponsored by the Private Eye Writers of America.