Wednesday, August 30, 2006

World premiere: adaptation of poem MARTIN by Cara Mia Theatre in Dallas

Dallas' CARA MÍA THEATRE COMPANY kicks off the 10th Anniversary Season with an unforgettable weekend. MARTÍN by poet/screenwriter JIMMY SANTIAGO BACA opens this Friday, September 1st.

JIMMY SANTIAGO BACA will be in attendance on Friday, signing his books before the show. Also on Friday, THE UNITED LOWRIDERS ASSOCIATION will exhibit lowrider cars in the parking lot. Enjoy a Tex-Mex buffet after the show, courtesy of ROSITA'S RESTAURANT.

Performed in English with some Spanish, MARTÍN is the story of a man, born part Chicano and Apache, abandoned as a child and thrust upon the streets of Albuquerque. Caught between Indio-Mejicano roots and English-speaking society, he searches for his identity while traveling the southwestern United States. During his quest, he experiences a spiritual renewal as he connects to his native roots and realizes his dream of family, love, and a home.

MARTÍN runs Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, September 1-17, at the Rosewood Center for Family Arts (5938 Skillman, Dallas 75231). Showtimes are 8:15 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $25 for the Opening Night performance with lowrider car show and reception with food and drinks. Tickets are $10-$12 all other days. Discounts and group sales available. Buy tickets online at the CARA MIA THEATRE website or by calling 214.946.9499.

About Jimmy Santiago Baca

Born in New Mexico of Chicano and Apache descent, Jimmy Santiago Baca was raised first by his grandmother and was later sent to an orphanage. A runaway at age thirteen, he began to turn his life around after he was sentenced to five years in a maximum security prison at the age of twenty-one. In prison, he learned to read and write and found his passion for poetry.
He is the winner of the Pushcart Prize, the American Book Award, the National Poetry Award, the International Hispanic Heritage Award, and the prestigious International Award. His books include A Place to Stand, Healing Earthquakes, C- Train & Thirteen Mexicans, Black Mesa Poems, Martín & Meditations on the South Valley, and Immigrants in Our Own Land. Movie scripts include Bound by Honor (Blood In, Blood Out) produced by Hollywood Pictures/Disney and The Lone Wolf – The Story of Pancho Gonzalez produced by HBO Productions.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Call for submissions: Lebanon is Burning

MIZNA: special issue on Lebanon

Deadline: September 22, 2006

MIZNA, a journal of Arab-American literature, is seeking original writing for our upcoming publication, with a focus on the current situation in Lebanon. We welcome journal entries from the ground, poetry, short stories, personal essays, theatrical pieces, creative non-fiction, and reflections from abroad and at home on Lebanon. We are particularly interested in writing that addresses the current destruction of Lebanon, the struggle of Lebanon, the refugees of Lebanon, and the resistance of Lebanon.

Contributors do not have to be of Arab descent provided their work is of relevance to the Arab-American community.

If you would like your work to be considered for publication, please send four hard copies (double-spaced, maximum 2500 words) and a brief biography (maximum 50 words) to the address below:

2205 California Street NE
Suite 109A
Minneapolis, MN 55418

Alternatively, send your submission and bio via e-mail as an attachment (not in the body of the message) to MIZNA@MIZNA.ORG. Please include your name, mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number.

Kindly limit poetry submissions to four poems per submission. Verses exceeding our page width will be treated with a runover indent. Proofs can be made available for author approval before publication.

MIZNA encourages writers who have recently translated their work into English to submit. We are available to assist writers through the editing process if necessary.

Writers whose work is published in MIZNA will receive a stipend and complimentary copies of the journal.

Due to the volume of submissions received, those not conforming to the above guidelines, as well as previously published material, will not be considered.

Failing the teachers

I was at the Coffeehouse Gallery my first morning back in town. The new owner/manager took my order and then I noticed Chris, a high school English teacher. He had a quick break between classes and had dashed over for a cup of coffee to-go.
He had big news: he's ending his teaching career after so many years. He just can't make a living, with suitable earnings, by continuing to teach. So, he's going to be a custodial worker, making more money at that than he currently does in a classroom. He's not that happy about having to make this decision. "I am leaving something that I worked all my life to get to--teaching English at Trimble Tech HS--but I just can't make it like this." He leaves Trimble Tech HS by the end of 2006.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

MACONDO WEEK - opening day - Sunday, 8/6/06

Leaving Fort Worth was a pain. I had to organize mi casita so that the inevitable Agosto heat would do minimal damage to my house and its contents, including my little cat Gracia (Grace). So, I had to hook up cat-sitters, house-sitters, and yarda y planta waterers. I seemed to be on the phone and making little notes for the caretakers straight up to the last minute. Of course, there was packing (for a week) to do and the "what have i forgotten?" frenzy where i'm walking to every room, hoping for a mental jog to help me remember the things i needed to pack. Being a writer, i have to think about things like contact/biz cards and writing samples and merch (my books, my spoken word cds) to sell. Thank gods for luggage on wheels. Sin llantas, i don't know how i woulda managed to drag all my stuff through the airport by myself.

That last night in FW, i got about three hours sleep, so i crashed out during the 55-minute flight from Dallas Love Field to San Antonio International. Upon arrival, i drowsily stepped through the terminal to get to baggage claim, where i was to meet up with ARIEL ROBELLO, award-winning (NALAC project grant, Emerging Voices Rosenthal Fellowship) poet and educator. She wasn't wearing the cowboy hat that she had told me she was going to wear in order to be easily recognized, but that's cool as i remembered what she looked like from meeting her at the "Pinta Tu Propio Mundo" performance we did at GALERIA DE LA RAZA back in 2004. Once we found one another in the airport, we claimed my luggage, and drifted off to scoop up another writer, Linda Backiel from Puerto Rico.

All signs pointed to Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) in San Antonio, where 50 or so Chican@/Latin@ (the @ sign is shorthand for female "a" and male "o" combined, in order to minimize use of masculinized nouns when i'm actually referring to females and males, transgendered, queer, as well as bi individuals.) writers, performance artists, scholars, and students gathered for the annual MACONDO WORKSHOP, a week-long mecca of artistic and literary exchange with published and unpublished writers and performers of poetry, prose, spoken word, novels, stage plays, etc. This was going to be my second year, so that made me a "chismosa". (First-years are "mocos@s" or snot-nosed and third-years are "picos@s" or very spicy.) Using this taxonomy is fun and allows us to recognize levels of experience, contribution, and familiarity within the Macondo comunidad. (Oh, Macondo is the name of the fictitious village described in 100 YEARS OF SOLITUDE by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.) Individually and all together, we are MACONDISTAS!

On the way to the OLLU campus, Ariel directed our attention to all the monarchs flitting about. Yes, they seemed to be everywhere, probably making a pitstop before migrating further south to Mexico.. These mariposas (butterflies) were constant companions throughout the week of Macondo.

I ended up in a second-floor room in a dorm which had probably been built in the mid-1960s (if that recent), which meant that there were no elevators. Once I'd hauled up my stuff to my room, I realized that it had been a good idea to pack my flannel pjs, as the room temp was frigidaire-cool. No complaints here, i was thankful to not be in my sweatbox of a house for at least this one precious week. Quickly, I changed clothes and prepped for the Welcome Dinner, which was to start at 6pm.

I met some of the Macondistas at the appointed time to catch a van that would deliver us to the salon for the Welcome Dinner, in the King Williams district. Hugs and kisses for folks I knew from Austin or San Anto or from last year's Macondo workshop. Oh, minor detail. We got drenched on the way to the van. Yes, it rained! Halleluja, it rained. Cooling, soothing, and refreshing. It arrived just as quickly as it dispersed, but thankfully it left lower temps for the remainder of the evening-into-morning hours.

At the sena, or dinner itself, a sea of folks was arriving through multiple entrance doors. I glimpsed so many people across the room, folks i knew, that i wanted to leap over and greet them. I saw award-winning poet CAROLINA MONSIVAIS from the El Paso-Nuevo Mexico area; I saw Chicana theater scholar and director/dramaturg/writer Irma Mayorga; I saw Ben Olguin, the profesor at UTSA who gave me a ride on his motorcycle last year; I saw Liliana Valenzuela, who was taking tickets at the door--she the Chilanga poet-writer-translator from Austin; and so many many more. Before i even had a sip of drink from the cash bar, I started to feel a buzz. This gathering was like a who's who of Chicano/a lit and scholarship. I told myself to keep cool and not get overhyped. We had the whole week to hang out and talk and share together, so there was no need for me to be a giddy girl here. Okay, i FELT giddy, but i tried to keep it on the down low.

As we mingled in the salon, all 100 or so of us, we munched on appetizers and sipped our bebidas. I saw Macondo coordinator ire'ne lara silva (Sandra's admin. assistant in getting this whole workshop shebang together), all calm and collected, by the dessert table. She said that she was much more relaxed, here at the outset of the Macondo week, than she was this time last summer. I was happy to see her so chillaxed, knowing also that there were bound to be stresses and setbacks later on down the line. I ran into Steve Bailey, of Jump Start Theater, who told me, "Robert Karimi's looking for you." Omigod, KARIMI in town? Steve told me that Robert was at the Ruta Maya Coffeehouse, so I made a mental note to hitch a ride there after the dinner. Jackie Cuevas, publisher of EVELYN STREET PRESS, showed up with her partner and fellow writer Jen Margulies and swiftly offered to buy me a drink. (Drink number one of Macondo workshop 2006--for the record...) Irma Mayorga and I chatted about theater and other subjects before Sandra Cisneros stepped up to the mic and gave us the official welcome, happily announcing that an IRS letter received a day earlier made it official: Macondo the writing workshop is officially a 501 (c)3 non-profit. Cheers and applause. Dinner was served, more conversations ensued. Have to admit that I felt very proud to be included in this association of literary Chican@s--and their allies.

Afterwards, some of the guys (raulrsalinas, Levi Romero, Rene Valdez, Ben Olguin, Tony Diaz) were heading to Ruta Maya Coffeehouse to see what was left of the all-day-into-night benefit and commemorative performance on behalf of TRINIDAD SANCHEZ, JR. I hitched a ride (this time in a car) with Ben, who was eager to share details of his recent work trip to Cuba, about which he is writing an article for eventual publication in Z MAGAZINE (i'll try to let you know when that comes to be...) By the way, as Ben saw it and now tells it, "The revolution will live on in Cuba, it does not depend on Castro..." When we arrived at Ruta Maya, we saw that the benefit had pretty much wound down, even though the SOUL MIX REVUE featuring Suzy Bravo was tearing it up with some slammin' good oldskool soul tunes. (Manny, the drummer, had sent me noticias about the Soul Mix Revue, so i'd been hoping to catch this San Anto supergroup, and here they were, and--lemme tell you--ain't no email exist that's gonna prepare you for the likes of Suzy Bravo. She's got stunning presence and vocal chords of burnished metal.) Approaching the coffee counter with Rene (of Resistencia Bookstore), I started to assess the social situation, countin' up about 10 people i knew in the venue. Within a minute, I'd gotten big bear hugs from Karimi (who'd found a bargain flight from Minnesota to get here for mentor Trinidad's commemorative benefit). I also greeted Santiago, another poet protege of Trino, then moved on to greet Vicki of the San Anto Cultural Arts Commission and then, Laura Varela, la filmmaker popped up to welcome me. Dang, i hadn't seen Laura in about 7 years! She has truly been busy, serving on the Media Arts Panel for the Texas Commission on the Arts and as Program Director for NALIP (National Association of Latino Independent Producers) in San Antonio. Laura co-produced the documentary short "Texas: Majority Minority" and is now working on a new project, "As Long as I Remember: American Veteranos" with funding support from both Humanities Texas and LATINO PUBLIC BROADCASTING. Big ups, Laura!

Pretty soon, a big buzz got goin' that raul r salinas was in the house, so the emcee (whose name i have improperly forgotten, although he was so kind and welcoming) huddled up with a few of the guys to bring the energy of the benefit back up with a reading by raul, and a video screening (raw footage of Trinidad Sanchez) from Laura's work-in-progress. Within ten minutes, there seemed to be more people in the house and the volume of the chatter rose up in anticipation of raul gettin' onstage. After all, most folks there at Ruta Maya knew that raul had had a close call himself recently, with his medical emergency of last month. We, therefore, were appropriately revved up to see this Tejano legend and activista do a few literary lineas in tribute to another elder compa who had just passed. And wouldn't you know it, raul chose to read "Stop the Madness", probably one of the most dynamic and urgent pieces that Trino ever penned. What a moment---and, to be sure, there were cameras rolling at that moment. A couple of folks were also beckoning me to perform, and I was flattered by the invitation, but Ruta Maya had to close and it had been a long night already. But not long enough for some of us.

Karimi and Vicki wanted me to join them on Vicki's porch for conversation and cocktails, and Laura V wanted to take me out for a drink, and then some of the others were also hungry. The consensus decision: MI TIERRA for food, drinks and conversation--after all, they're open 24 hours. Karimi called dibbs on driving me, so I rode with him in a borrowed truck (that boy would be hella stiff competition on the "Amazing Race" reality show, methinks) to Mi Tierra, as we maximized on time alone by catching up with each other's performance gigs, funding exploits, project ambitions, y personal chisme. It's always good to see my Kaotic Karimi. In the restaurant, I ended up across the table from San Diego performance artist and activista Victor Payan, who with his partner and creative co-conspirator, Pocha Peña (aka the Chicana writer/producer Sandra Peña Sarmiento), were in town to do some video projects. So, you see, many many paths of Chican@ cultural production and activity had brought us to this particular city on this particular night. Victor and I hit it off, easily moving from discussion about the ongoing struggle to "save" EL CENTRO CULTURAL DE LA RAZA and reclaim it for the comunidad of artists and cultural workers who are now being shut out, but also toasting the work of CALACA PRESS founders Consuelo and Brent Beltrán. (Some of you may know that some of my work is featured on the RAZA SPOKEN HERE - 2nd edition - cd, released by Calaca Press in 2000.)

Thanks to Houstonian Tony D of NUESTRA PALABRA for the ride back to the OLLU dorm, all tired y conversationally-spent.

And that was just the OPENING DAY of Macondo.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

All the beautiful men are dying....

Michael, I went to a copy center this evening, and I made it high-priority to put the photo of you--in that infamous orange shirt you seemed to favor as it favored you--on the glass and make a large color copy of it. Just to have. To take to Macondo next week, so i can share it with Ire'ne and Moises and any others who knew you. It is a time for me to reflect on my dear brothers and poet-elders who have passed and left me pulsing here, earthbound.

All the beautiful men are dying, I say to my monitor as unexpected tears well up and start to spill. All the softest, gentlest, not-afraid-to-say-they-loved-they-mama sweet honest men. When Pasha left us last spring, I couldn't believe the loss i felt. He was like, could have been like another father to me. To face the fact that I could never hear his melodic incantations anymore just crushed me deeply. How could i not have visited him one more time in Austin? And why didn't i mail him those photos of him with Theresa in front of Whole Foods? Why all the waiting and putting off of the expressions of love? Don't let it be too late, when it's too late--that's all i'm left with.

Ken H and Lorenzo T and the women too--Gloria A, omigod, the loss. The sudden urgency to fill the vaccuum, to get my shit down, write more and harder and truer and do it in their honor, their memory. Now or soon.

--- In light of what Lorna Dee, one of my dear compas and mentors wrote recently:

"And, yes, write a poem and right a wrong, and light a light in some child's eyes for Trino. And light a laugh in some friend's face, and light a light in the heart of your lover. Regina, I am so, so saddened for your loss. As my mother often said of my father: 'There will never be another man like him.' "

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Trindad Sanchez, Jr. - crosses over on July 30th, 2006

Juan Rodriguez, who sometimes blogs and emails as "Clyde Torres", sent us the following news message:

"Once again, I am saddened to inform you of the death of a vate de atolle, poet extraordinaire, Trini Sánchez. He died Sunday, July 30, 2006, after suffering a massive stroke last week.

Trini was a friend and fine performance poet. He was the author of WHY AM I SO BROWN, his most popular collection of poems; POEMS BY FATHER AND SON, his first book, which contained poems by his father on one half of the book and then his poems on the other; COMPARTIENDO DE LA NADA, a collection of poems expressing his concern for the struggles for justice in Central America; and JALAPEñO BLUES, his recently-published collection. I know he was very proud of this last book.

My condolences go to his wife Regina, his daughter, and the rest of his family. I shall pass on funeral arrangement information to you as I get it.

Chicano literature has lost another important voice. May he rest in peace."


Wednesday, August 2, 2006
5 pm

Rosary and Mass
Our Lady of Guadalupe

1321 El Paso
San Antonio, TX 7820

Celebration of Life Blessing and Wake
Following Rosary and Mass

Bihl Haus Arts
2803 Fredericksburg Rd.
San Antonio, TX 78201

In Lieu of Flowers, please send donations to:

Mrs. Trinidad Sánchez, Jr.
2803 Fredericksburg Rd. #1215
San Antonio, TX 78201 to help with medical expenses.


Gemini Ink & Society 0f Latino & Hispanic Writers
513 S. Presa

Contact: 889-6274

Friday, August 4th, 2006, Gemini Ink, in partnership with the Society of Latino and Hispanic Writers, will host a First Friday Reading benefit for our Honorary Chairman, Trinidad Sanchez Jr. The First Friday event will be at Gemini Ink, 513 S. Presa, and will begin at 6:30 p.m. The event is open to the public, admission is free and free parking is available at Gemini Ink's designated parking lot. Light refreshments will be offered.

Donations will be accepted to help Trinidad and his family offset the medical bills.

He is a true giant in the San Antonio poetry scene--he has been an energetic proponent and performer of poetry in the schools for more than 20 years, and has appeared more than 1000 times in schools and poetry venues. Copies of Trinidad's books will be available for sale.


What: Trinidad Sánchez Jr. Memorial Celebration
When: Sunday, August 6, 2006, 4-10 pm
Where: Ruta Maya Riverwalk Coffee House
107 East Martin
San Antonio, TX 78205

4-5 p.m. Music, Food and Sharing
5-6 p.m. Poetry and Stories
6-6:30 p.m. Entertainment
6:30-8 p.m. Poetry and Stories
8-10 p.m. More Music and Sharing

This event, which was originally planned about a week ago, will now take on a different meaning. We are hoping that you will still join us to celebrate, but also to memorialize, a man whose actions and words touched so many. And because of the costs inherent with this type of devastating loss, we will still be raising funds to assist Trino’s family with whatever they may need.

Trino didn’t want crying or flowers. He wanted people to eat, drink and celebrate. We will do our best.

Because of an overlooked scheduling conflict, we have had to adjust the time. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

For a list of other events planned to pay tribute to Trinidad, please visit Gemini Ink's website: On this site you will find information to donate to a special fund that has been created by Trinidad's family.

CHECK THIS OUT: Texas Matters will air a radio show featuring Trinidad at 12:30 p.m. this Friday, and again at 8:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. on Saturday. That's on KSTX 89.1, Texas Public Radio. Thank you to host David Davies and his wife and co-host Yvette Benavides for their support.

ALSO, on the same station, word is Ernie Villarreal is working on a Trinidad segment for his show this Wednesday at approximately 6:35 a.m. and again and 8:35 a.m.

To read some of Trinidad's poetry and download a video of him reading some of his work, go to this link and click on LITERATURE.

Trinidad, I never did thank you enough. You were such a generous and helpful person, and I got to see the impact you had on people in three cities (San Anto, Albuquerque, and Denver). Your light lives on in all of us who were blessed enough to have known you.