Wednesday, March 31, 2010


"Miller is as quirky and delightful as ever, treating the Southwest as a vast midden from which he plucks many odorous but tasty treasures. The fun, as usual, comes from watching Tom digest."--Larry McMurtry

Cinco Puntos is delighted to have published Tom Miller's Revenge of the Saguaro. It's a wacky ride through the peculiar cultural and intellectual geography of the American Southwest. During the Tucson Book Festival in March, where Tom was busy interviewing writers (Luis Urrea, for instance, in a standing-room-only 340 seat auditorium, where Luis waved his new graphic novel from CPP, Mr Mendoza's Paintbrush--thank you, Luis, thank you, Tom), giving workshops, talking about books and signing them, we caught up with him to give us a brief interview about his own very new CPP book, REVENGE OF THE SAGUARO. The interview is puro Tom, full of wit and curiosity. We're delighted to have a reason now to talk to Tom more often.

Two notes before you watch the video. One, if you're reading this on FACEBOOK, go here to watch the video, and/or I'll post it in the video section of FACEBOOK. Two, publishing leads us through peculiar trails. In looking for a cover image, Tom told us about an image that painter Roger Brown did occasioned by the same incident--Death by Raging Saguaro--that inspired the title of Tom's book and one of the essays. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, which received much of Brown's art upon his death, was kind enough to let us use the painting for our cover. As you can see, it's perfect. And the discovery of Roger Brown's art, and reading about his unique life, was one more reason that we are very glad to be publishers. It's an occupation that is constantly rewarding our minds, hearts and imagination. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010


If you're in Portland for the PLA tomorrow morning, Luis Urrea will be signing his brand new graphic novel Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush at our booth, 1302. We had 64 air-shipped in directly from Hong Kong especially for the show. Get them while they're very hot!

Luis Alberto Urrea talks about MR. MENDOZA'S PAINTBRUSH

In 2009 at the midwinter-ALA in Denver, Luis Alberto Urrea spoke about the forthcoming graphic novel, Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush. The book is a collaboration between Luis, who wrote the story, and artist Christopher Cardinale, who so masterfully created this wonderful graphic novel.

CPP@ PLA in Portland, Booth 1302

Lee and Bobby Byrd are in Portland for the Public Library Association Conference this week. Come by and say hello in booth 1302. But before they got on the plane in El Paso Lee had to rearrange the Cinco Puntos Press collection at the airport bookstore. She is always fiddling. We're delighted that our books are now in our local airport. If you're in town, go buy some and take home a taste of la Frontera.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Michael Wiegers from Copper Canyon at Cinco Puntos

Bobby Byrd, Lee Byrd, Ben Saenz, Michael Wiegers, Johnny Byrd
Michael is holding a copy of Incantations which we gifted him.
Michael Wiegers, Executive Editor at Copper Canyon Press, was visiting El Paso on his way to Marfa, Texas. He was staying with Ben Saenz. Copper Canyon is publishing Ben's new book of poems The Book of What Remains and he stopped by to stay with Ben and see El Paso. Part of his El Paso tour, of course, is Ben's other publisher, Cinco Puntos Press. Copper Canyon and Cinco Puntos are both distributed nationally by Consortium Book Sales and Distribution, and we've been colleagues and friends for years. That's one of the joys of independent publishing--knowing, and sharing with, fellow publishers. This colleagiality makes for a diverse and intellectually stimulating world of books and ideas. After 17 years of working full time at Copper Canyon Michael is enjoying the luxury of a sabbatical--an extended stay in Marfa as a guest of the Lannan Foundation. He's working on a translation of a Mexico City poet. I forgot the man's name, and so I hope Michael reads this and supplies us with the details.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Yup, we’ll be at the Tucson Book Festival, Booth 26, this Saturday and Sunday (March 13th and 14th) at the University of Arizona. Last year, the first annual, was lots of fun. This year promises to be even better. Cactus Mary Fountaine and co-publisher Bobby Byrd will be at the booth. And three Cinco Puntos Authors will be featured—Tom Miller, Luis Alberto Urrea and Tim Tingle. Below, in alphabetical order, are their performance schedules along with their new Cinco Puntos books. Check final time schedules on the Tucson Book Festival schedule the day of the event.

Tom Miller

Tom’s newest release is Revenge of the Saguaro: Offbeat Travels Through America’s Southwest just out last month from Cinco Puntos Press. He is the author of Trading With the Enemy: A Yankee Travels Through Castro’s Cuba, The Panama Hat Trail and On the Border.

Tom will be interviewing Luis Alberto Urrea (see below) on Saturday 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. in the Student Union Gallagher Theater.

He will also be on a panel discussing “The US-Mexico Border: Living and Writing on the Edge” which will broadcast live on C-SPAN on Saturday, 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. in the Student Union Gallagher Theater

And Tom will be having a conversation with Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. Both McMurtry and Ossana are Academy-Award winning screenwriters and best-selling authors. They will discuss the ups and downs in their storied writing careers. The panel is Sunday, 11:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m., in the Student Union - Ballroom South.

Tim Tingle   

Tim Tingle will be celebrating his new illustrated book, Saltypie, A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light that was so ably illustrated by Choctaw artist Karen Clarkson. Tim is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. He performs lively historical and traditional stories, accompanying himself on the American Indian flute. He has completed 11 storytelling tours for the U.S. Department of Defense in Germany and has performed at the National Storytelling Festival. He will be working hard at the book festival.

Writing Fiction From Life Events: A Writing Workshop (Ages 12-Adult). In this interactive workshop for ages 12 to adult, Tim will demonstrate methods of writing fiction based on turning-points in our lives and the lives around us. Participants will be invited to begin their own short story. Saturday 2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m., in the Education Building, Room 351.

Capturing the Audience: A Storytelling Workshop for Educators
Tim, who has performed in festivals throughout the U.S. and the world, will lead a workshop for educators on how to tell stories to children and to invite children into their own storytelling. Tim will also share how he tells historical and traditional stories, accompanying himself on the flute and singing Choctaw songs to the rhythm of a drum. Sun 2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. in the Education Building - Room 333.

Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship and Freedom
The Mississippi Choctaws tell many long-remembered tales of aiding runaway slaves. This story depicts the friendship of a young Choctaw girl and a boy whose family lives in bondage, on the eve of the sale of his mother to faraway owners. This oral story is also available as an award-winning picture book. Saturday, 11:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. on the Storytelling Stage

Saltypie: Family Stories of Struggle and Hope. Tim will tell stories about his own family, particularly stories of his grandmother and the hardships she encountered as well as the joy of overcoming. Sunday at 11:30 a.m - 12:30 p.m. on the Storytelling Stage.

Luis Alberto Urrea 

To be delivered fresh from the printer at the Tucson Book Festival is Luis Urrea’s Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush—a hilarious coming of age story about a young man visiting his cousins in Rosario, Sinaloa. The story has been reborn as a graphic novel thanks to the magic of artist Christopher Cardinale. Luis is also the author of the national bestseller Devil’s Highway, a nonfiction account of Mexican immigrants lost in the Arizona desert, which won the 2004 Lannan Literary Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. And, if it’s great fiction you want, then there are his novels—the highly acclaimed The Hummingbird’s Daughter and Into the Beautiful North. Cinco Puntos is honored to have published three other books by Luis—a collection of short stories, Six Kinds of Sky, which is where “Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush” first appeared; Vatos, a collaboration of Luis’ poem (Luis calls it his “book of poem”) and photographs by Jose Galvez; and Ghost Sickness, a collection of his poetry which is now out of print.

Luis will be interviewed by Tom Miller on Sat 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. at the Student Union Gallagher Theater.

On Saturday, 4 p.m. to 5 p.m, he will present “Southwest Inspiration—A Workshop” in room 119 in the Integrated Learning Center.

And Luis will be back, Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for a Q&A Session on the Nuestras Raíces Performance Stage. 

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ben Saenz on the Front Page!

(Photos by Rudy Gutierrez / El Paso Times)

The El Paso Times put a great article about Benjamin Alire Saenz on the front page of this morning's paper. Please read it soon because after two weeks the Times archives their articles. Written by Ramon Renteria, the article celebrates Ben being
named by Poets and Writers magazine as one of the world's most inspiring writers. We are of course proud of Ben, our friend and colleague. 

So--in keeping with our 25th anniversary celebration--this brings to mind another story about the history of Cinco Puntos and our friendship with Ben. Sometime around 1990, Lee and I were at Denise Chavez' and Daniel Zolinski's house in Las Cruces at a party for Arturo Islas. We were great fans of Arturo's The Rain God, a book that introduced us to the heart and soul of El Paso, and we wanted to meet him. Cinco Puntos was five years old then, struggling along like only a small independent press can struggle along. Anyway, we got to have a long and wonderful conversation with Arturo. He would die months afterward. What a beautiful and wonderful man he was, really radiant that night with wisdom and the knowledge that he was going to die soon. His Rain God is truly one of the great treasures of our literature. We still feel honored of having the opportunity to know Arturo, however briefly.

Ben was there too. We didn't know him too well at the time. He was celebrating the forthcoming publication of his first book of poems Calendar of Dust which would be followed shortly thereafter by a collection of short stories Flowers for the Broken which would go on to win the American Book Award. Both books were to be published by Broken Moon Press, a boutique press out of Seattle, WN. I use the word "boutique" pejoratively (they did beautiful books) because I was pissed. Why? Because they were wonderful books and I wished deeply that Cinco Puntos had published them. And I told Ben this, just the two of us standing in the foyer of Denise's house. I said something like, "Damnit, Ben, you're always talking about the border and its importance to you and here you are going and publishing books in Seattle, for God's sake." My anger was right there in my voice (I hope I'm a better person now). Ben looked at me for a few seconds, his mind churning at what I had said and the way I had said it. He said simply, "You're right." I've always admired him for listening to me and even agreeing with me. Right there on the spot. A very manly action, I thought. And still do. We've been very good friends ever since.

Ben's next book of poems was Dark and Perfect Angels published by--you guessed  it--Cinco Puntos Press. As we were working on that, Ben published a Christmas story in the El Paso Times, something like "Little Diego's Christmas." We read it and thought it would make a great picture book for kids. We talked to Ben and he was delighted to work with us again. Our friend Joe Hayes read it, loved it and suggested we make it a birthday story instead of a Christmas story. That way the book would be a year round book. We contracted with graphic designer and artist Geronimo Garcia (his company is Geronimo Design, one of the tops in El Paso) and A Gift from Papa Diego / Un regalo de Papa Diego was born. It's been one of our best sellers ever with well over 100,000 sold. Like all of Ben's picture books, the book has a politcal subtext, something the parents will understand but which certainly doesn't interfere with the kids simply listening to a good story. Since then we've done a number of books with Ben, all of them well received. Ben and Geronimo even teamed up again recently to create another Little Diego story, The Dog Who Loved Tortillas / La perrita que encantaban las tortillas.  

All these years now--it's been a wonderful friendship.

Mil gracias, Ben, y felicidades.


Thursday, March 4, 2010


Lee Merrill Byrd and Bobby Byrd
in the bathroom at La Mano Press (aka Self-Help Graphics), East Los Angeles
Artemio Rodriguez, Artist & Proprietor

We are just beginning to realize that this year is the 25th Anniversary of Cinco Puntos Press. Lee and I started CPP in 1985 simply because we just weren't happy in our day jobs. We were technical writers and we wanted somehow to escape. Lee writes fiction, I write poetry, we had three kids to feed, a house on Louisville Street to pay for. How could we escape? Oh yes, publishing! In El Paso, Texas? That's a silly idea, huh? But it worked. Sort of. So here we are. During the year we'll add information about the press' history here on the blog, but I thought I'd start the easy way and show some photographs of friends who recently have come visiting--citizens of the body politic of literature. Publishing, to our delight, revealed itself not only as a profession, but as an intellectual endeavor that's taken us into places of ideas and the imagination that we would never have found otherwise.
--Bobby Byrd

José Luis and Julie Orozco with Lee
After tacos and chili relleños at the H&H Carwash
José Luis Orozco is the troubadour of bilingualism, truly a gifted singer and musician. Besides, he's a lot of fun. He makes music and words fun for kids. And for us too. He and Julie were in town visiting schools. We got to spend much time with them, enjoying their company and listening to José sing from his incredibly wide selection of music. Especially over the dinner table one night with family and friends. He sang and he sang. Oh, did he sing. Please visit his website, buy his books for your children and grandchildren, and when you get the chance, go hear him sing. At the H&H the day the picture was taken, it was Brother Maynard Haddad’s birthday, and so of course José Luis stood up and led all the folks in the restaurant in a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday, Maynard.”

John Ross at Cinco Puntos, February 2010

Jornalista John Ross stayed with us for three days, telling us stories from New York, San Francisco, Iraq and the idiosyncratic country of his imagination. He was in El Paso on the Texas leg of his current book tour celebrating El Monstruo: Dread and Redemption in Mexico City from Nation Books. I’m reading the book now. It’s a great read, full of wisdom and humor and anger and prophecy and information. John is literally an old warhorse--journalist, poet, novelist--a displaced New York City intellectual who fought the fight against the machine in the 1960s in San Francisco. Now, it seems in my heart like John has been living in DF since the Aztecs were looking out to the east for the white man to come. And ever since he’s been at war--with his writing and his actions--with Cortez and the curse he left behind him. We met John at Debbie Nathan’s house sometime back in the 1990s and he’s been a friend ever since. In 1998 Cinco Puntos published his novel Tonitiuh’s People: A Novel of the Mexican Cataclysm. It’s a wild epic read through the history of 20th Century Mexico. Hear what he says--

I wrote this novel for revenge, mostly. Justice demanded it. The novel was begun in 1990 after many months on the road with Cuauhtemoc Cardenas as he pursued the presidency of his country and was ultimately cheated of it. At the time, the Salinas' gang occupied my vitriol. Tonatiuh's People has been rewritten several times since to accommodate political realities-the book had an uncanny aptitude for coming true. At each juncture, the text seemed to prophesy what later would be confirmed as fact. To stay ahead of the curve, I was forced to project further and further into the future. Today, the revenge motive is more structural. History has taught me true contempt for the rulers of Mexico-and deepened my faith in its peoples' ability to make a real revolution.