Saturday, March 30, 2013


We all love Nicanor Parra. He’s now 94 years old and a resounding consensus as to the nature of his writing is growing. This is good news. Parra is one of the greatest living poets and his work is not poetry but antipoesía: a sustained attempt to debunk what we understand as poetry. Antipoetry interprets something never before expressed regarding our life and world, something that profoundly bounds poetry to life. That’s the way it is, and yet, there’s something disturbing, something that doesn’t quite fit together. I am referring to a Gordian knot underlying his antipoetry that obstinately opposes institutionalization. Skeptics attribute a premature rigor mortis to Parra’s project, deeming it impossible to fully acknowledge antipoetry’s implicit subversion and demolishing force without first turning it into a stuffed animal. This is the exaltation and burial: on the one hand, readers admire antipoetry. On the other, they deny it by converting the most revolutionary vision of poetry in Spanish of our time into something neither more nor less acceptable than what could be the inopportune laugh of a student during mass. If it were just this, there’d be no problem, except for the fact that the church that this student goes to is horrifying. This student is a victim of sexual abuse and for some time now we’ve known that mass is a bloody ritual. Antipoetry shows us this brutal scenario.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ángel F. Sandoval's Shades of Brown


Poeta, Ángel F. Sandoval
I am excited to share Ángel F. Sandoval's collection, Shades of Brown (click this link to travel to the work), featured now at UC Merced's alternaCtive publicaCations.  AlternaCtive publiaCations, publisher Dr. Manuel M.Martín-Rodriguez, is dedicated to posting unpublished creative works, primarily by Latino and Latina authors.

I met Ángel a few years ago while doing a reading at San Diego State University.  He was in SDSU's MFA program at the time.  After the reading he came up and shared with me that he was also from the Imperial Valley, Brawley, to be exact.  We exchanged some quick stories and have remained in touch ever since, even reading together on a few occasions which has always been an inspiring experience.

Ángel's work is energetic and full of Chican@ love.  His words grip the page like tightened fists then explode into a confetti rainfall as your eyes pass them by.  This collection is special to me because I recognize nearly all of the sites this poet recalls, the big aroma, the blasting sun, the wide and infinite fields, and of course, the beautiful people del Valle Imperial.


El Barrio on the North End

On the east side of that barrio was the cemetery,
and on the west the city dump. And fallow fields
or plots of gone-bad onions took up the open space. 

That barrio was enclosed by deep dirt ditches
and dried up concrete canals working a whole lifetime, 

harvesting la perennial pisca de plastico...but also
           the three-year-old’s shoe clinging on to the steep bank,
                        the piece of shirt collar\\\caught on the floodgate blade.


           I remember the war we waged on
the rattlesnake we jumped and skinned and hanged

           on a low tree limb for all to see 
                       how cold-blooded we felt.
A hummingbird thirstily drank from the naked flesh.
ElGato limped over and slashed\\\off the long rattle—
the blood and venom joined the other spots on the sidewalk. 

DonTémoc, el escribano y cuentista, came out with his cane, 
shaking his head as always, and took down the flayed body.

             Two surcos slithered and cut\\\between apartment buildings. 
We played tackle football in the trenches
—sloshing through backwater—
as the older vatos watched on.

They scouted talent amid the muck and grime. 
Y ya traían bronca
             from home school hace un chingo
and they’d argue with fileros or lechugueros in hand; 
ready to protect their reps,
ready to recall all the rage and hate in their hearts 

and pour it down the guts of the twin gutters. 



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

CantoMundo 2013 Fellows:

Amy Sayre Baptista
Rosebud Ben-Oni
Marcelo Hernandez Castillo
Rio Cortez
Darrel Alejandro Holnes
Casandra Lopez
David Tomas Martinez
Urayoan Noel 
Jacob Saenz
Erika L. Sanchez

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Fight Continues


SES Statement on Tashima Ruling: The Path Forward

Late in the afternoon of March 8, 2013 Judge Tashima issued the long anticipated ruling concerning the pending motions for summary judgment. The motions were initially submitted in 2011 and argued in March of 2012.

The plaintiffs' motion sought to invalidate HB 2281 (A.R.S. § 15-111 and 112) as unconstitutional because it is impermissibly vague and overbroad, precluding speech and infringing students' "right to receive" under the First Amendment. Although Judge Tashima recognized that the students' First Amendment rights in the classroom were at stake, and found one provision of the statute unconstitutional, A.R.S. § 15-112(a)(3) - "classes designed primarily for pupils of a particular group ethnic group", the decision left intact the remainder of the law that was used to prohibit the teaching of Mexican American Studies in the Tucson Unified School District.

The Acosta/Arce case is not over. The immediate task is to decide what is the next step: seek reconsideration of the decision or file an appeal to the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. That decision will be made within the next few days. It was always understood that this case would end up before the Ninth Circuit, and we have been preparing for this inevitable step for the past year. We have assembled a legal team that includes professors from the Seattle University Law School and the Bingham McCutchen law firm. Their contributions to the appellate process will be invaluable.

Once an appeal is filed, briefing will be submitted by both sides and a hearing will occur. This step will likely take about 18 to 24 months. The legal process is never as quick as we all hope for. This is especially true when important constitutional rights are at stake.

The effort to invalidate HB 2281 will continue. Too much is at stake. The right of every student to learn and teacher to teach the history, literature and culture of Latinos in Arizona is currently prohibited. Mexican American Studies proved to be a valuable educational program that instilled students with a positive academic identity. Much better academic skills, grades, graduation rates along with increased matriculation to college consistently occurred in every year the program was offered.

The mandate to successfully educate every student irrespective color, gender, culture or economic status is in crisis. As a nation we have failed miserably to reach this goal. We can and must do better. Ethnic studies provide a critical curricular option that must be available to every school district to consider, implement and maintain. 

HB 2281 is the product of fear and a profound misunderstanding of the role of culture, language and history. These are areas of learning that do not divide us as a nation but provide a vehicle to promote understanding, respect and success. We cannot allow this fear to spread to other jurisdictions and eliminate important programs that already exist or the development of new programs.

The American dream has always included the universal hope that our children do better than we did. Irrespective of color, gender, culture or language every student must have the right to know who she is and how she fits into our complex and challenging society.

The path to obtain and maintain our civil liberties is continuous. In this lucha we all move forward. Your support is vital. Stand with us united in our common effort to be make our nation "a more perfect union".

The educators, students and community of Save Ethnic Studies.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Cool Album and Books

I bought the new Youth Lagoon album today and I am completely into it.  "Mute" so far is my fav.  The solo guitar throughout the final 2-3 minutes or so is gorgeous--immensely charged, unadorned lines, like poetry should, so high how are you?



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Books I'm currently reading (mostly books I picked up from SDSU's library):
Essential Acker, by Kathy Acker
A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying, by Laurie Ann Guerrero
thisconnectionofeveryonewithlungs, by Juliana Spahr
An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris, by Georges Perec
Say Goodnight, by Timothy Liu
Splendide Hotel, by Gilbert Sorrentino
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
Life on Mars, by Tracy K. Smith

Monday, March 4, 2013

CantoMundo Reading in Los Angeles

CantoMundo reading at Beyond Baroque

It was nice to hear such fantastic poetry Friday night in Venice, California. To friends, family, and art.