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Today, the Latino Rebels are proud to present a charity event for #LatinoLit icon Miguel Algarín, the co-founder of the Nuyorican Poets Café. The event, which will feature over 30 performers, will start today July 24 at the Phoenix Bar in the East Village.

You can donate online here.

The iconic Miguel Algarín is a man deserving of various accolades, among his most noteworthy being founder of the Nuyorican Poets Café in the Lower East Side in the early 1970s—a place where marginalized voices founded a movement and created a home that Allen Ginsberg once described as “the most integrated place on the planet.” Out of the Nuyorican Poets Café were born books and legends—too many to report here.

So what’s the point?

The man responsible for carving a space for literary and counter-cultural expression in the urban war-zone of the 1970s Lower East Side/Loisaida is in need of our help. Miguel is being forced to vacate his Lower East Side apartment this summer. As a 70-year-old disabled man this is proving to be quite a challenge. So to help offset the cost of his legal fees and other expenses we are throwing a party to raise money for him.

Así mismo.

As a living icon who has given a platform to thousands of marginalized voices in his lifetime, we feel that this is the least we can do for Miguel and hope that you can join us in our celebration in honor of him. Yes, the goal is to raise money, but the way in which we’ll do that is by having fun. Come join us as we revel in the Lower East Side/East Village poetry and performance legacy he helped create.

You can donate online here.

(Note: All money raised will go to Miguel Algarín. Neither The Phoenix, Latino Rebels, nor the performers will receive any funds raised—we are all volunteering our time.)

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Today on #LatinoLit we are proud to present the an amazing piece about REAL BORICUA PRIDE by the very talented Efrain Ortiz, Jr. As millions of Puerto Ricans swarm 5th Avenue for the Puerto Rican Day Parade, we as a country, as a people, still stay silent and ignorant of what it is to be BORICUA. ¡Despierta, boricua, coño, despierta!

Efrain Ortiz, Jr.

DEEPER THAN THAT

by Efrain Ortiz, Jr

There are no trinkets to be worn

There are no flags to fly

There is no shouting at the top of my lungs

There is no float I want to see passing by

My pride is deeper than that

Deeper than all the commercialism

Far deeper than the corporate capitalist

Getting rich off the backs of the very same parade viewers

Deeper than the politician waving a flag for support

Saying

Vote for me, vote for me…

My pride is deeper than that

To celebrate and show cultural pride

Let it be known; there’s nothing wrong with that

I shouted and waved the same

When I didn’t know from where I came

Not for not wanting, not for want to ignore

One-sided histories made for want of more

And more….

And more…

My pride is deeper than that

There are things that can’t be changed

Like the blood that flows through my veins

Blood that flows like a thousand waving flags

In sync and in harmony

With a heart that pulsates the song of a lone star

Blood with origins in another land

Land once tended by indigenous peoples

Land that gave birth to my forbearers

Etched deep within my pulsating heart

I affirm my identity with that of the forbearers

And proclaim…..my pride is deeper than that.

 

©Efrain Ortiz Jr.

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Out first short story submission to #LatinoLit was sent to us by author Gilberto González, a Philadelphia native who writes about life in his city. Born of Puerto Rican parents, González grew up in Philadelphia and understands fi rst-hand the racism and hardships facing the Latino community. “Going through high school was tough. Going through college was tougher,” he said. González did not let adversity slow him down. After receiving an associate degree of fi ne arts from Community College of Philadelphia, he continued his education at University of the Arts, where he earned a bachelor degree in graphic design. In 1989, González tapped his personal motivation and graphic design skills in order to create Cinco Graphics at the Taller Puertorriqueño, a professional training program that allowed high school students to prepare for college or the workforce in graphic design.

#LatinoLit Author Gilberto González

Damaris

by Gilberto González

One summer I walked out of my house, a typical Philadelphia row home. Here everyone knows your business because the walls are thin and everyone is always hanging outside. This day the Kensington streets were crowded when I noticed across the street this amazing girl. We looked at each other and smiled. She was half white and half Puerto Rican. She had light brown hair, very soft white skin, she was a little taller than me, slim, with a nice full ass. I normally would never walk up to a girl because I was shy, but for some reason, I decided to talk to her.

“Who are you?” I asked.

She replied, “Damaris, Maria’s sister.”

“Why are you here?”

She replied, “Babysitting my big sister’s kids for the summer.”

“Why are you so pretty?”

She just smiled and said, “Because my mother made me that way.”

After that first encounter at North Howard Street we were in separable. Every evening, once she finished babysitting her sister’s kids, I would walk her home. She lived about four blocks from my house on 5th and Berks.  Her family lived on the second floor of an apartment building. After a few weeks of walking her home, I became a fixture at her door stoop. When it was time for her to eat dinner we would get up and stand in the foyer of the building. With the doors closed we would start to kiss and the kiss would seem to last a long time. Her lips were soft, not too wet or too dry, and she covered my lips from top to bottom. From the moment she pressed her lips to mine it felt nice. It was one of the best kisses I ever had.

One evening she told me that she confessed to her mom that she loved me and that she wanted me to come into the house. That evening I was allowed upstairs. I met her family and they all seemed to like me. Her mom was Puerto Rican but her father, the white guy, did not live with them. Instead, her mom introduced this little black guy as her stepfather. So now I was introduced to everyone in the house and we sat to eat dinner.

A bit later, during dinner, I asked to use the bathroom. I walked up the dark hallway up to the third floor. Once inside, as I stood at the toilet, I looked around and I saw all the normal things including some picture frames. They were images of barns and the frames were the kind you would see in every household in Philadelphia. They were a pair of black, plastic vine frames. As I was standing in front of the toilet, I noticed a roach crawl behind one of pictures. I thought I’d do Damaris and her family a favor and kill the bug. So I hit the frame in attempts to kill the thing. But, when I hit the frame, roaches came out crawling in all directions. All this happened as I started to urinate. While in a panic about the bugs, I tried to keep control of my bladder. As the roaches ran all over the place I urinated on the rug, the sidewall, the top of the toilet; it was everywhere. Once the roaches disappeared and found new hiding places I began to clean the bathroom. As I was cleaning I soon noticed these dark rings in the toilet and that this was not the cleanest bathroom. As I left the bathroom I began to see bugs all over the house, and that did it for me. I soon realized that Damaris and her family were not the cleanest people in the world. If my mom saw a roach in our house she would scream and beat the bug to hell. I was not a snot but moms tend to pass on their practices to their children and being clean was something my mom beat into me until I got married.

After that, I could no longer look at my sweet-lipped honey without seeing bugs. I walked her home a few more times, but I would refuse to go into that apartment. She would get upset with me and cry. She would asked me  “if I was no longer interested in her.” or “Did you find someone else?”

She cried, and for weeks her family was angry with me. I could not tell her or her family the truth.  I could not tell them that her house filled with bugs grossed me out. Her family continually asked me why am I playing with her. But all I could say was, “Sorry.”

Copyright @2010 Gilberto González

To learn more about Gilberto, here is his story from MyLatinoVoice.

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January, 1954: Caguas, Puerto Rico

The wrinkled baseball card of Victor Pellot rested in the back pocket of Francisco Antonio Benítez’s Levis like a sacred relic in the Vatican. As he walked to the first row of Yldefonso Solá Morales Stadium with his father Don Octavio Benítez, Francisco Antonio’s heart pumped. Today, with 6,500 winter baseball fans drinking shots of local rum and munching on crispy plantain chips, he would meet the great Pellot, the flashy first baseman for the hometown Caguas Criollos and the future bonus baby of the Philadelphia Athletics.

To the Caguas locals, Pellot was their god, even though he had begun to use the name Vic Power on the mainland and some of the more radical nationalists started to call him Tío Tom. According to Pellot, he began to use Power (a variation of Pove, his mother’s maiden name) because when he played in the minor leagues of Quebec, the French-speaking fans would laugh at him. He first thought it was because of his black skin, but Pellot soon found out that his last name sounded a lot like plotte, French Canadian slang for vagina. So, on the mainland, he became Vic Power. In Caguas, he was still Victor Pellot. And every Caguas resident, from the whitest Spaniard to the darkest Africano, would cheer every time Pellot would slowly stroll to home plate, a 34-ounce Louisville Slugger slathered with pine tar and dirt in his Powerful hands.

“Did you know Pellot almost made the Yankees in 1951?” Don Octavio told his son, as they sat right behind the mesh net near home plate. “He would have been the first Negro Puerto Rican in the American League. They took Elston Howeard instead.”

Francisco Antonio loved when his father talked to him about baseball. Don Octavio, whose fortune had begun to grow once he sold his pool halls to a Caguas syndicate and had built a materials store in the city’s center, was frequently flying to New York to buy cloth in the Garment District. In between his negotiations with crusty Jews who made fun of his broken English and baggy suits, Don Octavio would take the subway to Yankee Stadium, the Polo Grounds, and Ebbets Field. In one week, he saw Mays, Robinson, Mantle, Snider, Ford, Irvin, and Berra. The white corporate Yankees were methodical, cold, passionless. The Giants and Dodgers reminded Don Octavio of the island’s winter league: aggressive, fancy, players jawing at each other in both Spanish and English. The Giants and Dodgers had more Negroes, and those Negroes played in the winter league.

“If you ever saw Mays, Francisco, you could die the next moment a happy man,” Don Octavio told his son. “Pellot is as black as Mays. But the difference between Pellot and Mays is that Pellot is Puerto Rican, Mays is a Negro. Did you ever hear the story of Pellot when he was in the South and walked into a restaurant in Missisippi after a game? The waitress said that they didn’t serve Negroes. Pellot told her not to worry, he didn’t eat Negroes, he just wanted rice and beans.”

Francisco Antonio laughed at his father’s stories, even the ones he told over and over again. Baseball, the game that came to Puerto Rico when American soldiers arrived in 1898 and never left, was what every island boy talked about with his island father.

“Do you think he will hit a grand slam, Papi?” Francisco Antonio asked. “That would be a lot of money.”

For the entire winter league, Don Octavio had been advertising a contest in the newspaper for his store: The first Criollo to hit a grand slam would win a $1,000 check, personally signed by Don Octavio. After 20 games, no one had even come close, not even Pellot. But when the slugger saw Don Octavio at mass earlier in the day, after asking for blessings from the older businessman, Pellot said he had prayed to God for the chance to hit a grand slam later in the game.

“The money would help me, Don Octavio,” Pellot told him.

“I can just give it to you know,” Don Ocatvio said.

“No, Don Octavio,” Pellot said. “I am a baseball player. I will earn that check today. Blessings to you and your family.”

The first three innings of the game against Ponce sped through. Caguas could only manage a hit, while Ponce didn’t even hit the ball out of the infield. After the Ponce shortstop missed a Chichi Olivo fastball for a third strike, Francisco Antonio cheered along with his neighbors. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Caguas loaded the bases. Up came Pellot, and instead of walking towards home plate, he headed over to where Don Octavio was sitting.

“Sign the check, Don Octavio,” he told Francisco Antonio’s father and then looked at the younger Benítez. “And get a camera ready to take a picture with your son.”

Don Octavio smiled as Pellot picked up his bat and walked to the batter’s box. As the Ponce pitcher released a curve ball from his fingers, Pellot crouched his stance, winked and began to swing.

The sound of the wood ricocheted through the crowd, Pellot’s bat smacking the ball and stopping it for a second. The ball’s path sailed up high, towards the mountains of Caguas, past the stadium’s lights, over a two-lane road, and landed 500 feet away in a stable of lazy paso fino horses. Pellot watched the ball like an artist studies his models. He trotted around each base, soaking in applause and chants. When he stepped on home, his three teammates shook his hand and then headed back to the Caguas dugout. Pellot didn’t follow them.

He walked to Don Octavio, who had a check in hand and a photographer with his camera and a flash bulb.

“Viva Pellot!” Francico Antonio said.

Pellot picked up the younger Benítez and stood him up on the field. Together, they smiled for the camera.

“Dreams can come true, son,” Pellot said. “Don’t ever forget that.”

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The frenzy around the social media saga of author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez and her fight with NBC and Encanto Productions has died down considerably, but it still hasn’t stopped Valdes-Rodrigiez from posting about the situation. Valdes-Rodriguez, who is now finding initial success with her self-published e-book, ALL THAT GLITTERS, recently posted the following on her public Facebook site:

As Valdes-Rodriguez states on her post: “NBC is launching some very good shows and ordering seemingly innovative pilots so far this season. This is comforting to me. Perhaps they will demand that Encanto make the draft pilot script I read Must Less Sucky and Way Less Full of Stereotypes and Generally Smarter and Funnier with Sexy Not The Same As Slutty-n-Dumb. That would be nice. Fingers crossed.”

Valdes-Rodriguez is referring the TV pilot adaptation of her best-selling book THE DIRTY GIRLS SOCIAL CLUB that was optioned to Ann Lopez’s Encanto Productions and was being pitched to NBC. Her social media actions from December 23, 2010 until January 8, 2011 resulted in a rather lengthy public apology that retracted most of her statements directed at Lopez, producer Lynette Ramirez, writer Luisa Leschin, Encanto, NBC, and Creative Artists Agency.

During this time period, the majority of comments in Twitter, Facebook, this blog and other outlets were generally supportive of Valdes-Rodriguez. However, critics predicted that her social media antics were unprofessional and would spell doom for the author’s career. Apparently, signs of career suicide aren’t evident at all as Valdes-Rodriguez indicates in this Facebook post:

Frank Weinmann founded The Literary Group International in 1986 and is considered by many to be one of the top agencies in the world. In the meantime, Valdes-Rodriguez continues to self-publish her latest works, including ALL THAT GLITTERS. Her fourth installment of THE DIRTY GIRLS SOCIAL CLUB is scheduled for weekly installments e-chapters starting in February.

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UPDATE, January 13: 6:15 PM EST: Valdes-Rodriguez just posted the following on her Facebook site: “Uhm…okay. Just got an email from my publicist saying CNN is postponing again because of the shootings. I’ll let you know more soon.” and tweeted this: My publicist just emailed to say my CNN interview is postponed again because of AZ shootings. I will update as I know more.

Twitter news moves fast.

Here is the ORIGINAL story we posted at 5pm EST on January 13:

Best-selling Latina author, Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, who has become a case study about the pros and cons of social media, announced today on her Twitter and Facebook sites that she will appear on CNN on January 14 at 1:30 MST (3:30 EST) to discuss “the dangers of optioning your book to TV producers without reading the fine print, and the role of social media in reaching readers directly.”

Valdes-Rodriguez, whose issues with Ann Lopez a nd Encanto Productions have been chronicled consistently on this blog since December 23, confirmed to us this afternoon that CNN anchor Brook Baldwin will interview her. The author of The Dirty Girls Social Club also said that she will be the only guest to discuss this topic with Baldwin.

So, looks like this story that was going away is now getting national media attention.

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In our continuing commitment to feature #LatinoLit talent on Twitter, we are proud to feature the poetry of Obsidian Eagle.

 

Obsidian Eagle

About Obsidian Eagle (ItzQuauhtli)

ItzQuauhtli is a Nahuatl (Aztec) name that translates into Obsidian Eagle — this in turn has become the pseudonym for a deliberately anonymous AntiPoet operating solely online.  Nicanor Parra, the Chilean originator of AntiPoetry once wrote:

For personal reasons, the AntiPoet is a sniper.  He fights for the same cause but with a totally different technique.  He doesn’t disclaim the poet-soldier, he works with him from a distance, although his method may seem ambiguous.

Obsidian Eagle has taken said ambiguity a step further by introducing a technique dubbed poésie sans poète, which divorces verse from first-person pronouns (I, Me, My and Mine).  His blog ObsidianEagle.com has been publishing such AntiPoetry weekly for over a year now.  For submission guidelines visit this Submission Page.

Likewise, on Twitter @ItzQuauhtli is responsible for the longest-running series of rolling rhymes via a thread known as #TheTumbler—derived from Hispanic style couplets called La Bomba in the author’s natal El Salvador.  Although writing mostly in English, ItzQuauhtli does produce Spanish and bilingual poems as well. Here is a poem in Spanish, along with its English version:

Seres alzados

~ I ~

No temo a nada ni a nadie
Sea que ande paseando
Por las avenidas de San Salvador
O sobre los muros en Machu Picchu
Ahí voy, con pasos pesados
Aventado a toda cabeza
Deletreando frases vivientes
En tres idiomas (Francés, Inglés, y este)
Porque el más allá no se queda quieto
Ni tan siquiera un solo instante
Menos para los quienes se inquietan
Y aquellos que se desesperan
Bueno, esos salen aún peor

~ II ~

La Muerte es transcendente
Nuestras almas; ilusión
En esta vida no hay constante
Excepto, vuestra fe y devoción
Tal como Castaneda os dijo
Que Don Juan había dicho:
“El único camino que debes seguir
Es uno que sobresale rebalsando
Desde tu propio sentir.”
Así que nos toca elegir
Rechazar el misterio con ciencia
Sacrificando lo ideal – o –
Bautisarse con agua pura de consciencia
Cual es la misma energía
Del espacio abierto, universal!

And here is the English version:

Elevated Beings

~ I ~

I fear nothing and no one
Whether I’m treading
Through the avenues of San Salvador
Or over the ruins of Machu Picchu
There I go, with heavy footsteps
Headlong
Spelling out living phrases
In three languages (French, English and Spanish)
Because the great beyond does not stay still
Less so for those who grow restless
And those who despair
Well, they’re worse off yet

~ II ~

Death is transcendent
Our souls; an illusion
In life there are no constants
Except, one’s faith and devotion
Like Castaneda told us
That Don Juan had said:
“The only path worth following
Is one that overflows
From within your own heart”
Thus, it is up to us to decide
Reject all mystery with science
Sacrificing the ideal -or-
Baptizing ourselves with
Pure water of consciousness
Which is the same energy
As universal space, ethereal!

Copyright ©Obsidian Eagle

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