Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Crossing Borders: Welcome to Cinco Puntos Press

This is the "Crossing Borders" workshop from the Santa Fe Community College Department of Humanities. The photograph is taken in the foyer of our storefront at 701 Texas Avenue. From left to right are: tour-guide-for-the-day Nancy Gepfert (rights activist with the Women's Intercultural Center in Anthony, NM), workshop leader Margo Chavez Charles, Lois Snyderman, Gretchen Goff, Tina Matthews, workshop leader Sharon Franco, CPP co-publisher Lee Byrd and Dee Homans. The guy hiding in the back left is Bobby Byrd.

The "Crossing Borders" folks visited us in March for a conversation about border issues, publishing on the border and books and ideas. Taught by Margo Chavez and Sharon Franco (both experts in Spanish language literature), the class features readings, guest speakers, discussion, research about border issues and a trip to the border. (Margo teaches a similar class at UNM in Albuquerque in the Honors College.) The attendees visited with a number of fronterizos during their visit, talking and sharing and learning about the political, cultural and personal issues along the U.S./Mexico Border. Cinco Puntos is delighted that they used two of our books as texts for the class--Ringside Seat to the Revolution by David Dorado Romo and the Puro Border non-fiction anthology edited by Luis Humberto Crostwaite, John Byrd and Bobby Byrd.

We at Cinco Puntos are delighted to host such events. We make lots of coffee, heat up water for tea, bring in Gussie's Cookies and we settle in for a good conversation. Intellectually stimulating and fun for us, it's one of our ways to promote Cinco Puntos and our titles and our place in the world. We always hope of course our visitors will remember us when they go back home.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Life is an Act of Literary Creation: Luis Alberto Urrea

Luis Urrea reads his essay "Life is an Act of Literary Creation" on NPR's series This I Believe. God, he says, is a poet. "...every religion in our history was made of poems and songs, and not a few of them had books attached." Listen to him read his work. It's a fine experience.

Cinco Puntos is publishing Luis' first graphic novel for young adults Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush in September. The story originally appeared in Luis' award winning collection of short stories from Cinco Puntos--Six Kinds of Sky--; but we always thought it would make a great graphic novel. That's why we contacted artist Christopher Cardinale to interpret and illustrate the story. Of course if you asked Christopher, he'd probably say he believes that God is an artist. That's why he traveled to Rosario, Sinaloa before starting work on the book. He wanted to see what God had to say about Sinaloa. That's where Luis used to visit his cousins when he was growing up, and of course that's where Mr. Mendoza lived with his paintbrush.

Here's a little bit of what Christopher saw in Rosario

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Connie Voisine Book of Poems a Finalist for LA Times Book Award

Congratulations to our friend Connie Voisine. Her book of poems Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream (University of Chicago Press) has been chosen as a finalist for the prestigious Los Angeles Times Book Award. Connie lives up the road from us in Las Cruces, NM, with her husband, writer Rus Bradburd and their lovely daughter Alma. Connie teaches in the Creative Writing Department at NMSU. She's a wonderful colleague and citizen in our world of letters in this piece of the desert along the border. She's full of curiosity about language and poetry and diverse poetics. Her poetry, of course, is remarkable. The award announcements are Friday night with lots of pomp and ceremony. Our fingers are crossed. We hope she will be popping the champagne corks in celebration of her book and her award.


Below is a poem I cut and pasted off the University of Chicago Press website. Being technically inept, I can't figure out how to put in all the line indents via blogger. Forgive me, Connie. To see the poem properly scattered across the screen, go here.

The Bird is Her Reason

There are some bodies that emerge
into desire as a god
rises from the sea, emotion and
memory hang like dripping clothes—this
want is like
entering that heated red

on the mouth of a Delacroix lion,
stalwart, always that red
which makes
my teeth ache and my skin feel
a hand that has never touched me,
the tree groaning outside becomes
a man who knocks on my bedroom window,
edge of red on gold fur,
the horse, the wild
flip of its head, the rake of claws
across its back, the unfocussed,
swallowed eye.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Jim Tolbert talks bio-diversity and multiculturalism

JIM TOLBERT is one of El Paso's not-so-secret weapons. An eco and neighborhood activist, Jim understands the interdependence of ecology and culture. Indeed, the interdependence between us all. With that in mind, he wrote a thoughtful commentary on Gary Nabhan's recent visit to El Chuco and the CPP book Efrain of the Sonoran Desert, A Lizard's Life among the Seri Indians. The story of this book is a collaboration between Gary and Amalia Astorga, a Seri elder.

Below is the beginning of Jim's article. Please visit his blog often. He's an important voice, especially for those of us here in El Paso. He also blogs for the Newman Park Association and a blog that carries the quirky name Conkey's Tavern, "a place to chronicle and discuss the trend toward buying local, sustainable, and organic food and that trend's impact on our culture, our politics, our environment, our communities, and our relationships with each other and our planet." Jim is a neighbor of ours in the Five Points area of El Paso (hence, Cinco Puntos Press).

So here's how his blog about Gary and Cinco Puntos starts and below that is a photo of Amalia Astorga. I've always wanted an opportunity to put her photograph here:
Biodiversity depends on multiculturalism. Preserving diverse cultures for the sake of biodiversity (and vice versa) is what Gary Nabhan is telling us. Uprooting indigenous peoples and putting them on reservations, for example, is just bad environmental policy not to mention being egregiously immoral and unjust. Respecting the integrity and the beauty of different cultures is so very important for the survival of all of us. After all, indigenous human cultures are vital, evolutionary products and crucial components of ecosystems. We uproot them--we uproot much more. For the complete entry, go here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tucson Book Festival, 2009

Cinco Puntos was happy to attend the 1st Annual Tucson Festival of Books the weekend of March 13-14. For a first ever, the organizers did a wonderful job. Lots of writers (Tucson has a large and wonderfully varied community of writers and artists) and readings panels and, best of all, book readers (aka book buyers) walking through the University of Arizona campus for a beautiful weekend. Thanks to Dr. Kathy Short (Professor of Language, Culture and Reading in the UA Education Department) the Children's Tent featured Joe Hayes telling stories so that was an extra plus for Cinco Puntos. We got to see old friends, like Luis Urrea and Cindy Urrea (Luis' first graphic novel MR. MENDOZA'S PAINT BRUSH this fall), Tom Miller (we'll be publishing his offbeat SW travel book REVENGE OF THE SAGUARO early next year) and artist http://www.janetkmiller.com/ who teamed with Gary Nabhan and Seri Indian Amalia Astorga to create EFRAIN OF THE SONORAN DESERT. We also got to meet two CPP book creators for the first time--Paul Mirocha and Stephen Buchmann. Stephen, with Diana Cohn, wrote THE BEE TREE, and Paul is its wonderful illustrator.

Both Joe Hayes and Bobby Byrd (that's me) received their BAs from UofA, Joe in 1967 and Bobby two years earlier, so the campus brought back many old memories. The only downside of the Festival was that weren't too many other presses in attendance--only bookstores and a various and wonderful assortment of booksellers. That's a shame. Book festivals, we find, are a great place for networking, meeting and talking with authors and book buyers and generally enjoying the culture of books and literature. We had expecgted to be rubbing elbows with Rio Nuevo, Treasure Chest and other folks in the Arizona community of publishing. Oh well. Next year. And we'll be happy to have the seniority. In the meantime, here are some photographs from our weekend (the one above are book buyers who came browsing at our tent)--

This is Joe signing his new book, Dance, Nana, Dance / Baila, Nana, Baila, a collection of stories from the Afro-Cuban and Hispano-Cuban traditions of storytelling on the island.

Cindy and Luis Urrea with Lee. Luis had been a featured speaker for the Festival and he signed lots of books. He's tired but happy. Likewise Cindy. It was good to see them. We told stories, some of them even true, and laughed and hooted.

This is my good friend Paul Malanga and his dog Brendy. Back in the day, when we were both at the UofA, Paul and I published a little poetry magazine called From A Window. It was my first venture into publishing. We'd type the poems onto mimeograph sheets (a true taste of hell and a practice of patience)and poet Carlos Reyes, who owned a mimeo machine, would print them out. We'd then fold and staple bound 200 copies. One of our celebrated achievements was that the Harvard Library, at the urging of poet Charles Olson, bought the complete set. After six issues the magazine died it's natural death.

This is our good friend David Waag. David, for the last eight years or so, has been the Southwest sales rep for Consortium Book Sales and Distribution, our national distributor. Before that we knew him as a clerk at the Salt of the Earth Bookstore in Albuquerque, one of the great but now dead bookstores of the southwest. David has championed and sold our books, he would come by and stay at our house, eat our food and talk the talk of books. It was grand. Now he and his wife Rosanna have temporarily retired. They are taking a year long road trip through Mexico, Central America and all places south. We wish them well.

POSTSCRIPT: What made the trip a true joy for Lee and me is that Heloise Wilson drove with us back and forth to Tucson. As so many of you know, Heloise's husband--and our good friend--the poet Keith Wilson died in February. We were delighted that Heloise felt up to the journey. She visited with friends Diana Hadley and Peter Warshall while we sold books. And back and forth she told wonderful stories of her family and her own growing up, spread between Mexico and Central America and New York City and Arkansas. It was in Tucson that I first met Keith and Heloise. Heloise is such a good storyteller, she made sure it was a good journey back into the day. Here's a picture of her and Joe Hayes--