Over the last few months a lot of people around the country have been discovering Austin-based singer Gina Chavez. Her album Up.Rooted, which also has the sounds of Austin legends Grupo Fantasma, sounds great, and she was recently featured on NPR’s show/podcast alt.latino. Even more importantly she did one of those wonderful NPR Tiny Desk Concerts. This seemed a good time to encourage everyone to check her out since she just did a couple of shows out here in East Texas (in Austin and Houston). Wherever you are, I hope you get to make it to one of her shows!
Lysa Flores just played a great show for the Huizache launch party (thanks again Lysa!). In this internet age, there’s no reason why all of you who missed the party need to miss out on Lysa’s music. You can listen to a lot of her tracks at her own website, and YouTube has a cool video of her covering the Joy Division classic Love Will Tear Us Apart. The audio’s not perfect, but the video gives you an idea how great a performer Lysa is, and if you watch closely, you can see Alfredo Ortiz, who also played the launch party, on drums.
If you don’t know Latinopia, you’ve been missing out. Latinopia is an incredible online resource, full of video interviews, profiles, readings, recipes, music, blogs and all sorts other things Chicano and Latino, with more stuff getting added all the time. The site owes its existence to the tremendous effort and talents of producer Jesus Treviño. Jesus has been gathering materials for pretty much forever, so the site has decades of images and videos that you would never find if not for the site. One of my favorites is a video of José Montoya reading his legendary poem “El Louie” about a pachuco who, just like me and Jesus, is from ol’ EPT.
Huizache is not just a plant and not just a magazine–it’s a party, too! Last week we held a launch party for Huizache #5 in Los Angeles, complete with magazines, tacos al pastor, and music by the beautiful and talented Lysa Flores! ¿Que mas se puede pedir? This was the second time we’ve done this in LA, and we hope to bring the party to other cities throughout the year. For those of you that missed out, we’ve got pictures from the event.
Here’s singer/songwriter/guitarist/badass-punk-rocker Lysa Flores. She’s backed by the great Alfredo Ortiz (of Ozomatli and Beastie Boys fame) on drums and Giovanni (likely to be famous in the future for his own guitar and singing talents) on bass guitar:
Vickie Vértiz gave an emotional reading of one of her own poems along with a translation of one by her husband:
We also had readings from two poets who appear in the latest issue of Huizache:
And here’s Dagoberto Gilb with one of our hosts, Héctor Tobar:
This may be old news for some, but I just found came across it so it’s new news to me! There’s a great podcast called “The Latin Alternative” coming out of Albany, New York and there’s an entire episode from early 2014 devoted to the great Angeleno band Los Lobos, starring Louis Perez, the band’s singer and guitarist. Perez and the host get through the obligatory mention of La Bamba right away, and then go through the forty year (!) history of the band, tell some stories and play some tracks from old and newer albums. The interview is great, the music is great, and Louis Perez even says something great that reminded me of the whole project of Huizache:
There’s this whole thing that’s happening that there’s like a new generation of Latin […or…] Chicano artists that are moving way beyond where one would expect…Chicano music to go, while still maintaining a lot of their integrity and sensibilities to the community and their culture, which is a lot like what we’ve done. And it’s just great to see young people just carrying that torch on forward, and there’s a lot of amazing groups out there.
As in music, so in literature! Here’s the whole interview:
The hosts of the podcast note the curious place of American-born music within the Latin Alternative genre (ie, it is mostly ignored), so it’s great to see Los Lobos getting their propers on the show. All the episodes of the podcast, with tons of excellent music chosen by hosts Josh Norek and Ernesto Lechner, can be found here, and the show’s homepage is here.
for Resolana Heartfire, in solidarity with Katrina Guarascio,
notorious corrupter of children
Suzi write a poem
Write a poem Suzi
You will need a pencil
lined paper and the ability
to abide by the rules
Follow Suzi follow
my instruction Suzi squeeze
your poem like a baby bird
between the palm
That’s a simile Suzi
Write a simile Suzi
Sarah follow suit Sarah
Sarah follow Suzi
Sarah write a poem
Write a poem Sarah
No Suzi you may not write
about the dream you dreamed
last night Suzi
No Sarah no poems
about Bengal tigers and
no whips chains or politics Suzi
Suzi what did I say Suzi
Be a positive role model for Tommy
Tommy write a poem Tommy
No Tommy you may not write about your father Tommy
Suzi your poem is on fire Suzi
We don’t like poems that self-immolate Suzi
Suzi your poem is bleeding all over the floor Suzi
Sarah sanitize Suzi for the sake of
Common Core and all that is good in the world
Wash your poem Suzi
Tommy take a tip from Suzi
Tommy be clean Tommy
Tommy take it to the river
beat your poem against the
sun-bleached stones Tommy
Suzi your poem is too hot
too tell it on the mountain Suzi
too syllabic Suzi
too Nora Zeale Hurston for me Suzi
too multilingual Suzi
Sarah I said to write a poem
follow appropriate instructions Sara
Suzi like baking a cake
be a good girl Suzi
Write your poem
Here let me
add a pinch of personification
write metaphor with moderation
forgo too much alliteration Suzi
too much alliteration sounds too Spanglish Suzi
sounds like rap Suzi
like a bastard tongue
like a patois
like a borderland
like a poem with no passport
You don’t want your poem deported, now do you Tommy?
Write about safe things Suzi
Suzi write of chaste things Suzi
Sarah write about Sarah but not too much Sarah, Sarah
And for Christ’s Sake don’t write about Christ
Don’t crucify your poem, Suzi
Suzi stop staring at clouds
No you may not write about clouds Suzi
No not about burning tongues and raised fists Sarah
No not about flying guitars and anarchy Tommy
No not about razor blades or vaginas Suzi
Yes, I know you have a vagina Suzi
Don’t write it about it Suzi
What are you feminist?
We don’t write about the F word, Suzi
We don’t write about war or APD police brutality or the homeless
We don’t write about sex or sexuality or sexual orientation
No depression, Sarah
No cutting, Tommy
No teenage pregnancy, Suzi
Suzi standardize your poem Suzi
Suzi write a poem
write a poem
Huizache #5 (Fall 2015) is now available! It’s a big and beautiful issue, with cover art by Diana Gamboa and full-color images of the work of Claude Fiddler inside, along with tons of great poetry and prose. If you can’t find it at your local bookstore, tell the owners that you’d love to see it on the shelves. In the meantime, you can buy a copy (or two, or three, or a hundred) through us. The table of contents is below, and there’s even a couple pieces available online so you can have a little prueba before it gets to your mailbox.
Vanessa Diaz: Once Was
Vanessa Diaz: La tal Yvonne
María López: The Mud Family Climbs the Mountain
María López: Oysters
Javier Zamora: Abuelita Nelli’s Garden with Parakeet That Says Hijaputa To the Drawer Awaiting My Return
Yago Cura: Certain Blondes
Los Angeles County Jail Sonnets #8
Fernando A. Flores: The Eight Incarnations of Pascal’s Fifth
Monique Quintana: Good Girls
Cornelius Eady: Photo (retouched)
Cornelius Eady: The Grey Goose
devorah major: city scat
devorah major: history of the canary island whistlers
Gina Valdés: Loyalty to the Humble
Gina Valdés: In the Land of Zapata
Manuel Muñoz: Presumido
J.A.GomezM: Every Bird Leaves the Nest
José Angel Araguz: To Lupito on His First Communion
José Angel Araguz: Desire
Lisa Alvarez: Previous Trees
Brandon Williams: Bullshitting with Waiters, Alameda Sushi House
Tonya Wiley: Polaroids of Seattle
The great Juan Felipe Herrera, who was with us in the beginning in h1 and was also in h3, just gave his inaugural reading as the country’s poet laureate, and the Washington Post says he was fantastic. Readers of Huizache already know how just good he is as a poet, and and it’s great that the rest of the country is getting to discover such an important voice.
The fifth issue of Huizache is as stunning as its predecessors: a ’60s throwback cover by Los Angeles artist Diane Gamboa, full-color plates by Caribbean painter Claude Fiddler, poetry by one of the East Coast’s most beloved poets, Cornelius Eady, fiction by the still-rising Chicano star Manuel Muñoz, an essay by a Chicana already in the pantheon, Denise Chávez, a mythic origin memoir by a homeless Colombiana in New York City, María López. Huizache offers work from the edges, the corners, and above all from our own side of America: El Paso, San Antonio, Chicago, Tucson, Austin, San Francisco, Mexicali, Fullerton, San Diego, Fresno, Los Angeles. Alongside work by the well-known devorah major, Glenn Taylor, Pat LittleDog, and ir’ene lara silva, h5 proudly welcomes new voices such as Fernando Flores, Vanessa Diaz, and Javier Zamora.
Huizache continues to thrive in the Latino West, loudly proclaiming the beauty of its bloom. In this era when its roots—its Mexican character, its Mexican heritage—are not just dismissed or ignored but attacked as in a xenophobe’s fantasy cartoon, this magazine expands our artistic boundaries. It exults in the life of those of us who are passively considered not born well or good enough, actively admiring the dynamic work that might otherwise go unseen.
He writes of grenades, a universe exploding.
It’s inexhaustible, the sky. Something about badness
turns him on. Passion a candle with two wicks.
He says to me, “Keep burning.”
He is often falling out of love.
Handling language like a theologian, he misses
lilies, later insists fall’s leaves aren’t dying.
His knowledge flickers brown-bagged, like rows
of luminaria candles at night. Seasonal
affective, he deals with feminine questions.
He argues without hearing his own voice.
Within an occasional dream, he hears language
glide along the starched collars of men.
He will not let himself show sadness or joy.
He forgets the late afternoon lake,
golden, and the geese rattling off in droves.
No gangbanger, his past is a series of commitments,
seventy-four-hour holds, Haldol and Serequel.
Now refusing meds,
he’s found the weather quite bothersome.
Wringing his hands to a fallen image of God,
he has a hurried urgency to be uninvolved.
Like a man in solitary confinement
in the federal prison, tossing shit at the guards,
he refuses to smile. Know-it-all criticisms of others
make his days. He cannot let go atheism or disbelief.
Electroshock therapy has him grasping at a forgotten past.
He walks lanky towards a loneliness he won’t refuse.
And the aftermath of madness is calm.
He tries to forget the dread of monotonous expectation.
We, with the same steps, trod towards some understanding,
some philosophy. All of us, keepers of secrets.