Sunday, April 25, 2010

Latino Writers Collective Brings Noted Writer and Activist to Kansas City

An Evening with Luis J. Rodriguez

Thursday, April 29, 2010
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch
RSVP now!

The Cuarta Página (Fourth Page) Reading Series will feature renowned writer and activist, Luis J. Rodriguez. Designed to showcase the work of Latino writers and provide role models for local youth, Cuarta Página is coordinated by the Latino Writers Collective.

The series will bring in nationally known poet, memoirist, and fiction writer, Luis J. Rodriguez, at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, April 29, to the Kansas City Library’s Plaza Branch, 4801 Main., for a reception (before the reading at 6:00 p.m.), reading, and book signing. Luis J. Rodriguez is convinced that a writer can change the world. It was through education and the power of words that Rodriguez made his own way out of poverty and despair in the barrio of East LA, breaking free from years of violence as an active gang member. Achieving success as an award-winning Chicano poet, he was sure the streets would haunt him no more — until his young son joined a gang himself. Rodriguez fought for his child by telling his own story in the bestseller Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A., a vivid memoir that explores the motivation of gang life and cautions against the death and destruction that inevitably claim its participants. Always Running earned a Carl Sandburg Literary Award and was designated a New York Times Notable Book; it has also been named by the American Library Association as one of the nation’s 100 most censored books. The Los Angeles Times Book Review says, Rodriguez is a relentless truth-teller, an authentic visionary, a man of profound compassion… he never allows us to forget that the rescue of young people is also ‘a spiritual quest.’” He was recently featured on NBC Nightly News as a newsmaker making a difference. (Links to videos below.)

Rodriguez is the author of several collections of poetry, most recently My Nature is Hunger: New and Selected Poems 1989-2004 (Curbstone Press). His poetry has won a Poetry Center Book Award and a PEN/Josephine Miles Literary Award, among others. His bilingual books for children, America Is Her Name and It Doesn't Have To Be This Way: A Barrio Story, have won several awards including a Patterson Young Adult Book Award and a Parent’s Choice Book Award. He is also the author of Hearts and Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times and a novel, Music of the Mill. He has also received a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award, a Lannan Fellowship for Poetry, a Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature, a California Arts Council fellowship and several Illinois Arts Council fellowships. He was one of 50 leaders worldwide selected as “Unsung Heroes of Compassion,” presented by the Dalai Lama. Co-founder of Chicago’s Guild Complex, one of the largest literary arts organizations in the Midwest; Rock a Mole (rhymes with guacamole) Productions which produces music and art festivals, CDs and film; Youth Struggling for Survival, a Chicago-based non-profit community group working with gang and non-gang youth, and the small poetry publishing house Tia Chucha Press, part of Tia Chucha's Café & Centro Cultural—a bookstore, coffee shop, art gallery, performance space, and workshop center in Los Angeles, Rodriguez is currently working on a new memoir, titled, A Borrowing of Bones: A Writer's Odyssey through Love, Addictions, Revolution, and Healing due in late 2010/early 2011.

Seating for this event is limited and reservations are required. RSVP now!

The series is co-sponsored by BkMk Press, Guadalupe Centers, Inc., Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City Hispanic News, Kansas Hispanic & Latino American Affairs Commission, Letras Latinas, Mattie Rhodes Latino Cultural Arts Division, Park University, Rockhurst University, and The Writers Place. The series is made possible in part by funding from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Masterminds, AWP in Denver April 7-10, and Other Items

My writing office at Ragdale

National Poetry Month is here, as is the AWP and spring--three of my favorite things. Today's entry is full of random poetry- and AWP-related items.

First of all, a couple of long-promised Ragdale photos (courtesy of Irasema Gonzalez) and a link to Proyecto Latina's site where they have a slideshow of more photos taken during their visit with me at Ragdale and recordings of Diana Pando's interview with me and me reading some of my poems.

Ragdale House as Diana approaches

Now, for National Poetry Month, one of my poems about poetry readings.


He walks in late,

of course,

and sits in the back row

even though he’s on the program.

Coyote wraps a storm

around him like a protective shield,

wears his leather like armor,

stares the woman in business suit

and her partner in high-style casual

into dropping their eyes. Coyote

makes everyone nervous.

Whispers circle the room.

Who asked him to read?

“Must have been some woman,”

one bearded man says, with a sniff.

“A guy would have known better.”

“Probably thinks it’s some kind of slam,”

one professor tells another.

When they call his name,

Coyote stalks to the podium

and growls into the microphone,

while, around the room, the air

burns with after-lightning

ozone and smells of blood

and splintered bones.

---Linda Rodriguez

Published in Heart’s Migration (Tia Chucha Press, 2009)

And a link to some others.

Next is the selection of the Latino Writers Collective as one of The PITCH's four Masterminds of 2010. This identifies us as one of the creative forces of Kansas City (and gives us a chunk of change to keep doing our work--Mil gracias, PITCH!).

Finally, for everyone going to the AWP national conference in Denver, come hear the Latino Writers Collective read at 4:30-5:45 pm in Rooms 102-104, Colorado Convention Center, Street Level on Saturday. And drop by the Scapegoat Press table, Exhibit Hall A, #B13, in the Bookfair any time--especially for my booksigning at 3:00 pm on Thursday, Francisco Aragon's (The Glow of Our Sweat, his wonderful brand-new book!) at 10:00 am on Thursday, and LWC's at 10:00 am on Saturday.