Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More San Antonio Festival Pictures

There are many kinds of mariachis in this world. Some are very young, some quite elderly, and most somewhere in the middle. Some keep their sombreros on while performing, while others take them off with a flourish before beginning their first number. Besides Mexico and the United States, mariachi ensembles can also be found throughout the Americas and in places as far away as Serbia and Japan.
While we often think of mariachis as being only men, women have been increasingly involved in all aspects of mariachi over the last several decades. Some bands feature female vocalists, and there are some all-woman bands such as Mariachi Rosas Divinas of Dallas.
One of the talented young performers I met at the December 2008 San Antonio Mariachi Festival was the singer Victoria Acosta, who was kind enough to appear in the pictures above. She also appears in other pictures I will be posting from the event. In addition to her own performances, she worked with children onstage during a mariachi trivia quiz, for which the prizes were copies of The Best Mariachi in the World/El Mejor Mariachi del Mundo.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mariachi Fan Mail

Now and then I am fortunate enough to have a Velveteen Rabbit moment that shows me I am in now real in one or another area--perhaps not outstanding, but real.

One such moment occurred recently when I received my very first fan mail from young readers in Riverside, California, who wrote letters to me in class on February 3. I would like to thank their teacher Sheila McMahon for sharing the letters with me.

It would take a lot of space to include all of the letters, but I do want to list all of my correspondents' first names:

Most of them are from seven to nine years of age.
Haylee writes, "I am impressed by the book you wrote." I am impressed that people take the time and interest to read.
Liliana mentions that she is seven years and asks me how old I am. I am much, much older: 45 years old, to be exact.
Among the boys, David tells me that he knows some Spanish words, and Angelo hopes that I will write another story. I'll see what I can do about that.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Humor Issue of Poemeleon Now Online

The eagle--or some other, perhaps less majestic bird like a curlew or wood duck--has landed.

The humor issue of Poemeleon (www.poemeleon.org) is now online. In addition to my dog leave-taking poem Aubade, which originally appeared in The Bark, the issue features work by poets including Sherman Alexie, Julie Kane, Martha Silano, Marilyn L. Taylor and Charles Harper Webb.

My thanks to editor Cati Porter for including me in such fine company.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Young Reader in San Antonio

I'm far behind on posting my San Antonio Mariachi Festival pictures, but I will now start to catch up.

The pictures above and below the text were taken with young reader and cantante Luis L., who sings as "El Gallito" (the Little Rooster). Gallito's parents graciously allowed me to have my picture taken with him, as he reminds me a bit of Gustavo.

I saw him rock the stage a couple of times in San Antonio, where he quickly applied what he learned in a master class.

More San Antonio pictures are forthcoming, along with news on both Mariachi and non-Mariachi fronts.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Settling for Beauty

I still have a lot to learn about publishing, but I can pass along one piece of hard-earned wisdom: if you have a choice, don't plan your wedding and your book launch for the same season. The wedding (appropriately enough) gets priority and the book launch suffers. I found this out in 2005 when my second collection, Settling for Beauty, was published in September and I got married in October.

With this in mind, I am back to promoting the book, beginning on Thursday, February 12 at the annual conference of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs in Chicago. From 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. I will be signing at Table 750 of the Book Fair floor, which belongs to publisher WordTech Communications. On Friday, February 13, from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. I will be signing Settling for Beauty and displaying The Best Mariachi in the World/El Mejor Mariachi del Mundo at Table 792, hosted by The Word Works, a DC-based press for which I have done some volunteering in the past.

While several poems in Settling for Beauty can be found online, I don't expect busy people to go looking for them right away. I would thus like to close this post with a poem from the book with the title "For Bad Wine":

For Bad Wine

Once in a field, in a wide rising stretch of paintbrush
& purple vetch, we stuck down

a tent, like punctuation, and drank through the evening
our bottle of bad wine.

Kate Northrop

Because the stores where finer wines are sold
are closed, or too far away to drive
on a rainy night, and because,
truth be told, we’re already a bit tipsy,
we’ll settle for what we can find in town.

Because the bottles of dusty neck and shoulders
that suggest long ageing, and a high price,
lie on their sides on a rack
too low to reach without stooping,
we’ll take one of the bright bottles
that stand close by.

Since so many of the labels are written
in strange languages that bring no comfort,
we narrow down to the plain-spoken domestics.

As, even in mid-life, we’re intimidated
by the corkscrew, the very cork,
the intricate and solemn techniques
and auguries of its removal,
we look among the simple screw tops,
such as we turned to open soda and juice
before our first high school drink.

Because we may as well toast our younger selves
who didn’t know Boone’s Farm from Bordeaux,
who knew we would get rich while doing good,
but in the meantime had to scrimp,
we will take the cheapest brand.

Because we now know better,
but have to save for retirement,
we will take the large and cost-effective jug.

Because we have our reasons
and don’t want to tell them again,
we’ll refill our glasses
and drain every drop.

Monday, February 9, 2009

New Essay Online: "Branding the Arts"

My essay "Branding the Arts" appears here.

The essay takes a tour of the use of brand names in several genres of both high and popular culture and looks at the further implications of brand names for artistic representation and daily life in general.

I hope to expand on these ideas over time, but this piece lays out some of the questions I hope to pursue.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Work in Poetic Voices Without Borders 2

Recently I received my contributors' copies of Poetic Voices Without Borders 2, which includes my poems "Hero, Posthumous" (a ghazal, if you keep track of such things) and "Introduction to Economics," a free-verse poem.

The collection, assembled by Gival Press editor Robert L. Giron, includes sections of work in Spanish and French as well as in English, and work by some very well-known poets, several of whom are listed below:

Louis E. Bourgeois
Alfred Corn
Rita Dove
Denise Duhamel
Dana Gioia
Joy Harjo
Colette Inez
Philip Levine
Naomi Shihab Nye
Alicia Suskin Ostriker
Katherine Soniat

I am pleased to be in such fast poetic company, and you can purchase this book through online sellers as well as directly from the publisher.

Good and good for you.