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--

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