The good folks over at have just posted a video of me talking about Mexican American Literature: A Portable Anthology, an awesome new book I co-edited with Huizache EIC Dagoberto Gilb.

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 Comes to Los Angeles!

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:

IMG_2185 IMG_2183

And here’s Dagoberto Gilb with one of our hosts, Héctor Tobar:


Rediscovered: Los Lobos Podcast

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.

from Huizache #5

Suzi Writes a Poem

Jessica Helen Lopez

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

Suzi listen
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
motorcycle gangs
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 dirty

too dark
too tell it on the mountain Suzi
too syllabic Suzi
too Nora Zeale Hurston for me Suzi
too multilingual Suzi
too narrative
too satirical
too surreal
too real

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

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 hip-hop
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

We just
don’t Suzi

We don’t
We don’t
We don’t

Suzi standardize your poem Suzi

Suzi write a poem
dear heart
write a poem

Jessica Helen Lopez is a slam poet from New Mexico. Her first collection of poetry was Always Messing With Them Boys, and her second was Cunt. Bomb. Her most recent collection, The Language of Bleeding: Poems for the International Poetry Festival, Nicaragua, is a limited release. The founder of La Palabra: The Word Is a Woman Collective, Lopez is Albuquerque’s poet laureate.

from Huizache #5

Huizache #5 Now Available!

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.

Huizache #5, Fall 2015

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

Jessica Helen Lopez: Suzi Writes a Poem

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


Huizache #5, Fall 2015

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.

Get your copy today!

from Huizache #4

Secret Missionary for the Virgin Mary Is Off His Meds

Sheryl Luna

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.

Sheryl Luna is the author of Seven and Pity the Drowned Horses, which received the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize in 2004. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Georgia Review, Puerto del Sol, and elsewhere. She also received the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation Award in 2008.

from Huizache #4

My Father’s House

Rubén Martínez

I returned to my hometown of Los Angeles after the better part of a decade away, lured by a job, by thoughts of impending fatherhood. My wife Angela, pregnant with twins, and I start to look for a house just as the real estate bubble reached its mad height, tearing a grand canyon through the social fabric and opening up the greatest disparity in wealth since the robber barons. Even with the offer of a massive no-interest loan from my Jesuit benefactors to help with financing, we couldn’t find a place to live. We were always outbid. On 1,000 square-foot houses going for 850K even though they were within sight and scent and earshot of the Golden State Freeway. (The consolation being all the latest upgrades: the drought-resistant-native-plants-only gardens, the stainless-steel appliances, the his-and-hers bathroom sinks.)

We were lucky to have my family’s patrimony, a house in the Silver Lake district of L.A., a bohemian enclave that had for decades brought together a multiethnic and socioeconomically mixed crew that included artists and activists, a strong gay and lesbian contingent, spiritual visionaries and hucksters. But the bubble set about dismantling the scene, which was in full display back in the early 1980s at the annual Sunset Junction Street Fair, where cholos and leather daddies and aging hippies partied together, turning it into a playground for young money with aspirations for a life in relative proximity to taco trucks and 99- cent stores. Continue reading

Tameka Cage Conley’s “Rise” Debuts in Washington, DC

Tameka Cage Conley’s “Rise” – a cantata with music by Judah Adashi – premiered this weekend in Washington, DC. The Washington Post was there:

“The Cantate Chamber Singers , for a 30th anniversary season, gave a doozy of a commission: a cantata about race in America, focusing on the events of Selma, Ala., in 1965, but incorporating references to the whole range of subsequent history. The result, “Rise,” with music by Judah Adashi and poetry by Tameka Cage Conley, had its world premiere Sunday afternoon at the Metropolitan AME church in downtown Washington, with the elite Howard University vocal ensemble “Afro Blue” mingling its voices with Cantate’s chorus.”

Tameka Cage Conley’s fiction appeared in our third issue and her poetry in our fourth.