Monday, December 22, 2008

Illuminations: Expressions of the Personal Spiritual Experience

In 2006 I had the privilege of seeing two pieces of mine selected for the anthology
Illuminations: Expressions of the Personal Spiritual Experience, edited by Mark L. Tompkins and Jennifer McMahon and published by Celestial Arts, an imprint of Ten Speed Press. Contributors much better-known than myself include Julia Cameron, Helene Cardona, and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the experiences covered encompass finding, exploring, practicing and leaving a range of faiths.

Intended to raise both awareness and funds for projects involving interfaith dialogue and peacebuilding, this book has unfortunately not yet reached the audience it deserves and has not yet covered its expenses. Having received only one-time payment for my work in 2006, I will earn no proceeds from future sales of Illuminations and can now promote the book on its merits. As most days' news reminds us--whether from Iraq, India and Pakistan, or the United States--we can use more understanding, or at least tolerance, among people of different faiths as well as with those who adhere to none.

The editors have noted "Illuminations is available from any of the major online book retailers, and is available at a discount in quantities of 10 or more from the publisher. For discount information a special email has been set up:"

They further state "Organizations can benefit from using Illuminations in a number of ways:
Illuminations can be used in their education programs; special discounts are available for this purpose. Illuminations can be used for fundraising by offering it as a gift book to their network. Groups can earn $9.00 to $10.00 per book sold, depending on quantity and terms. Illuminations can be used for gifts to their members or as an incentive for joining or renewing."

The web site (, if links are causing a problem) includes sample work as well as reviews. Even if you can't get a copy in time for the holiday(s) you celebrate, the book will remain timely.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mariachi Roundup

After his whirlwind trip to San Antonio, where he was unharmed by either unseasonably cold weather or the chupacabra, Gustavo kept his sombrero on and managed a successful week.

Last night I learned that the Tucson Citizen (free, registration required) has listed The Best Mariachi in the World/El Mejor Mariachi del Mundo as the first pick in a story entitled "Bilingual Books for Children Just in Time for the Holiday Season."

Two other positive reviews have appeared on specialized sites, one on on and another on the modestly named yet very well-written site Mary's Blog. In addition, M. Tretiakova has written a very positive customer review on the page of the bilingual edition.

As if that weren't enough, I have learned that the newest country for online sales is Colombia, at

One theme emerging from the reviews is that boys are particularly taking to this book. For a variety of reasons it can be hard to get boys interested in books, so I am glad to help.

A couple of other non-Mariachi items should be coming up in the days ahead, including one that I am not yet at liberty to discuss . . .

Monday, December 8, 2008

New Poems Online at

I am briefly breaking a streak of Mariachi-related news to announce that two of my poems, "General Apology" and "Detox," appear in Issue 22 of Ducts, which has been publishing for 10 calendar years. In web or dog years, that is something like a century. Poetry editor Amy Lemmon, a fine poet herself, has also selected work by poets include Denise Duhamel, Moira Egan, Dimitris Lyacos and Carly Sachs.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Live from San Antonio, Parte Dos!

Today's reading at Borders at the Quarry in San Antonio went very well, thanks to booksellers Joanna and Angel and a wonderful audience of both adults and children.

I also had the opportunity to speak to adults and children at the San Antonio Municipal Auditorium.

Pictures from both events will appear in this very blog, and we'll see what comes of being in the audience for tonight's performance by Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Live from San Antonio!

I am writing this dispatch from the business center of the historic St. Anthony Hotel in San Antonio.

At the San Antonio Civic Center this morning I had the opportunity to speak to several hundred students ranging in age from early grade school to college level about the value of higher education and about The Best Mariachi in the World/El Mejor Mariachi del Mundo. I also gave away a hardcover of each version (bilingual, Spanish and English) as prizes for answering mariachi trivia questions.

The rest of today will include a bit of tourism and watching student competitions this evening, not to mention taking advantage of the local cuisine.

On Saturday, December 6 I will spend the morning getting reading for my reading at Borders at the Quarry.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Two More Mariachi Countries

As I get ready for tonight's debut reading (discussed in the post below) and my reading at the San Antonio Mariachi Festival, I have two more countries where online sellers are offering The Best Mariachi in the World/El Mejor Mariachi del Mundo.

Readers in Estonia can purchase copies through Krisostomus, and readers in Hungary can order at Prospero in Budapest.

Tonight should be fun, and pictures may follow, possibly involving sombreros and serapes.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Washington, DC and World Debut Reading of The Best Mariachi in the World/El Mejor Mariachi del Mundo

It is going to be an exciting and exhausting week.

On Wednesday, December 3, at 7 p.m., I will be giving my first-ever reading of The Best Mariachi in the World/El Mejor Mariachi del Mundo, along with a talk and a reading of family-friendly selections of my poetry at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church, Sixth Street and Maine Avenue, Southwest, near the Waterfront/Southeastern University Metro stop on the Green Line. More detailed directions are available here. Admission is free/gratis, but donations to the church will be accepted.

Following the reading I will be signing both Mariachi and my second collection of poems, Settling for Beauty. Only a limited number of copies of Mariachi will be available for sale on-site, so please feel free to bring a copy of any version for signing.

The event is noted in the Washington Post and in the December issue of Capitol-area community publication Hill Rag.

The day after this debut reading or, to take the Spanish phrase, el gran estreno, I will be flying out for my reading at the San Antonio Mariachi Festival.

More to come.