Thursday, June 29, 2006

Madam Mayo to Mexico City

Yes, for the Mexican Presidential elections. No, she's not going to blog about it because she is much too busy blogging about ever-so-much more interesting things... for example, Rob Brezsny and the 5 minute writing exercises and anything and everything that has to do with her new book; unusual new books and especially unusual new Mexican books; also, pugs, Baja California, and the occasional Gone to the Litblogs column. (Well, if you must read about the Mexican elections, click here.) On Saturday July 8th she'll be giving a reading and book signing for her new anthology of Mexican fiction and literary prose, Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion, at the English/ Spanish bookstore La Sombra del Sabino in Tepoztlan. (Isn't this a neat photo? It's of a market in Neza. Click here to visit Helipilot's webpage and view more of his amazing Mexico City pix.) Back blogging after July 13th. Hasta la vista.

Thank you, Rob Brezsny, For Being You

Yes, this is a picture of him handing out free cash at a highway exit ramp. He'll give you your free-will horoscope for free, too. Don't leave his website without visiting the link to his essay, The Literary Equivalent of a Sex-Change.

Leslie Pietrzyk Recommends Duotrope's Digest

My amiga the novelist Leslie Pietrzyk writes that Duotrope's Digest (Markets for Writers) "is an amazing resource... You can search through their database of lit magazines and find out, say, which journals take long stories. Or which journals are closed for the summer. Or what upcoming special theme issues are. All free!" And for those planning on submitting work, I have a bucket of cold water for you (but it's bracing in the best way): my article on publishing in literary journals.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Gone to the Litblogs: Chris Abraham's "A Blog of Your Own"

It's just after midnight: Here in DC the Potomac is running so high that-- really -- I got a phone call from the DC government advising me of possible flooding between 9 pm and midnight. (Yes, a phone call!) Earlier this evening, I got in the car to drive up to Chris Abraham's "A Blog of Your Own" workshop at the Writers Center, and when I saw that Rock Creek Expressway was closed going north, I made a U-turn just in time. Spent the evening hauling my priceless collection of Baja California books (many very rare antiques) up out of the basement storage, just in case. I was sorry indeed to miss Chris Abraham's workshop-- I know I haven't begun to figure out the technical aspects of blogging. I was also looking forward to meeting some of my fellow DC area writers who are also bloggers. A little bird told me that Ken Ackerman might be attending... If you've got a blog, check out Chris's website-- he's got wheelbarrows of helpful information for bloggers. To read my previous posts on literary blogging, click here. Hasta pronto.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Time: The Top of the Top Ten

The top ten nouns in the English language-- that's today's 5 minute writing exercise. Time is number one. How 'bout that.

Field Notes from a Catastrophe

Just finished reading Elizabeth Kolbert's Field Notes from a Catastrophe. Interestingly, I found out about it by way of a Mexico City banker, and the day after going to see the Al Gore movie, "An Inconvenient Truth". Splendidly written and deeply researched, Kolbert's book grew out of a series of articles for the New Yorker. What I found most compelling and suprising was the first chapter, on the nature and consequences of the ongoing melting of the permafrost. Kolbert concludes the book: "It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing." But I don't think the right word is "we." Not everyone is suffering from cognitive dissonance. God help us all.

"Manta Ray" is On-Line

"Manta Ray," my short story from Natural Bridge and, subsequently, Richard Peabody's anthology, Grace and Gravity, is finally on on-line. To read it, click here. It's mostly set in the Watergate, and it's about swimming with giant manta rays. (Swimming with manta rays--- it's beyond far-out. Check out Phillip Colla's photos taken near Mexico's Revillagigedos.)

Monday, June 26, 2006

C.M. Mayo & Robert Giron Poetry Reading @ Kensington Row Bookshop

Wednesday, 28 June 2006, 7 pm, Robert L. Giron and C. M. Mayo will read their poetry at Kensington Row Bookshop, 3786 Howard Avenue, Kensington, Maryland. Come early to browse and chat. Refreshments provided. An open reading will follow. Free. Robert L. Giron, trilingual editor of the award-winning English-Spanish-French Poetic Voices Without Borders, is co-poetry editor for Potomac Review and editor of Gival Press. He has five collections of poetry, and teaches at Montgomery College, Takoma Park.
C. M. Mayo, c'est moi. Click here to read more. A few of my poems are on-line, by the way, among them: Man High; In the Garden of Lope de Vega; and a batch in Beltway. To read my Q&A with Robert Giron, check out my article, Vida la Vida Literaria! Resources in the Washington DC Area for Spanish Language Writers and Readers. Note: The next Kensington Row Bookshop reading will be Wednesday, 27 September 2006, 7 pm, with Grace Cavalieri and Donna Denize. Thanks to Judy McCombs! More anon.

Richard Peabody's Novel Workshop

Just a hop across the Potomac, in Arlington Virginia, my esteemed amigo Richard Peabody is offering a a novel workshop-- by which he means, yes, the whole enchilada. Here's the info:
Critique for Your Complete Novel, Not Just a Couple of Chapters: Limited to 5 students. Starting June 28th. Former Peabody students include: Katharine Davis (from the fall 2003 class) recently sold her novel to St. Martin's Press. Alumni from Peabody's 20+ years of university and Writer's Center classes with books in print (or filmed screenplays) include: Mark Baechtel, Doreen Baingana, Toby Barlow, Jodi Bloom, Sean Brijbasi, Robert Cullen, Priscilla Cummings, Lucinda Ebersole, Cara Haycak, Catherine Kimrey, Adam Kulakow, Nathan Leslie, Redge Mahaffey, Charlotte Manning, Meena Nayak, Matthew Olshan, William Orem, Mary Overton, Carolyn Parkhurst, Sally Pfoutz, Nani Power, Lisa Schamess, Brenda Seabrooke, Julia Slavin, and Yolanda Young. Barbara Grosh won the Xerox Aspiring Author contest.

Richard Peabody wears many literary hats. He is editor of Gargoyle Magazine (founded in 1976), has published a novella, two books of short stories, six books of poems, plus an e-book, and edited or co-edited fifteen anthologies including Enhanced Gravity: More Fiction by Washington Area Women.

More info at

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Literary Travel Writing Workshop This Sunday

I'm offering a literary travel writing workshop this Sunday the 25th at the Writers Center (Bethesda MD), from 1- 4 pm. Here's the boilerplate:
C.M. Mayo's "Literary Travel Writing Workshop"
One of the Writer's Center's most popular workshops. Take your travel writing to another level: the literary, which is to say, giving the reader the novelistic experience of actually traveling with you. For both beginning and advanced writers, this three hour workshop covers the techniques from fiction and poetry that you can apply to this specialized form of creative nonfiction for deliciously vivid effects. For more information and to register, click here.
Check out my website's workshop page for lists of recommended books (on craft, on the creative life, and travel writing), as well as articles and many useful links. I'll be back blogging Monday the 26th. Hasta entonces.

Apollo and the Nine Muses Dancing With Rainbow YinYangs

Jeff Mishlove's "rainbow yinyang" art makes me giggle-- but it is strangely powerful. Click here to view his "Apollo and the Nine Muses Dancing With Rainbow YinYangs." To read the basics on the rainbow yinyang, click here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Over at the Happy Booker... (and I don't mean the adult bookstore on the highway outside of Alamogordo...)

Writes Wendi Kaufman in her blog, The Happy Booker: "Often overshadowed by politics and powerbrokers, I am happy to report the literary scene is very much alive and kicking here in D.C." Her post is about Richard Peabody's fab-fab-fab anthology Enhanced Gravity: More Fiction by Washington Area Women, which includes her superb short story, "Adulterer's Delight." Wendi's fiction has also appeared in The New Yorker, Other Voices, and elsewhere, and she frequently writes for the Washington Post. Last month, she published a lengthy and much-talked about article on the DC Literary Scene in the The Washingtonian. Speaking of the DC literary scene, it would be sad indeed without the (just over the Maryland border) Bethesda Writers Center. I'm offering a special one day literary travel writing workshop there next Sunday. More anon.

Some PR for the Publicists: Lauren Cerand, Peter Handel, et al

Yesterday on her blog, Tayari Jones, author of the much-lauded novel Leaving Atlanta, interviewed her New York City-based Internet publicist, the brilliant and hardworking Lauren Cerand--- I know Lauren is brilliant and hardworking because she was my publicist for my audio CD "The Essential Francisco Sosa or, Picadou's Mexico City." (A portion of all sales of my CD go to benefit Presencia Animal, a Mexico City dog and cat rescue organization. They're doing desperately needed work.) And on the subject of PR, two blogs I highly recommend to my fellow book floggers: Joan Stewart's Publicity Hound and M.J. Rose's Buzz, Balls & Hype. Peter Handel is one of my very favorite book publicists--- he's worked on Miraculous Air, Tameme, and Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion--- and yep, he's got a blog, Rejection Is My Middle Name. Such is the life in the book biz... I guess... but Peter seems to be having a good time in Oaxaca... More anon.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Telephone: That's today's 5 minute writing exercise. (The character I'm working on today lived before the telephone was invented, but well, that's what "thought experiments" are for...) I post a new 5 minute writing exercise every day. I started posting these back on October 1st. If you're blocked or just need a nudge, have a look. I hope they are helpful.

Monday, June 19, 2006

"Nacho Libre" Gets A Nine

In the wacky tradition of Mexico's lucha libre, Nacho Libre gets a 9 on a scale of 1- 10, according to Chairman Mayo, who, by the way, is Mexican. Madam Mayo quite agrees, though in her opinion, the only thing needed for the full 10 points would been a bag of buttered popcorn. We went to see it last night in Alexandria, Virginia, where half the audience was La Raza and it was nonstop giggles. How did gringo actor Jack Black get to play Nacho, a Mexican monk (and masked luchador for the orphans)? Well, "Nacho's" mother was a Lutheran missionary and his father a priest; they tried to convert each other, but they ended up getting married. They had Nacho, then they died. And so the story begins...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Today's 5 Minute Writing Exercise: The Human Body In Action

Leap, twist, stretch, reach-- action verbs punch up your prose. Click here for today's 5 minute writing exercise. (This nifty photo is of Ruth Davidson of the Mark Morris Dance Group.)

Enhanced Gravity: The Marvelous Monster Celebration at Politics & Prose

Tonight it was standing room only --- some 150 people packed into Washington DC's premier literary venue, Politics & Prose. Richard Peabody presented his second splendid anthology of writing by 43 Washington area women: Enhanced Gravity. Yours truly played MC for a panel of ten of the writers: Meena Arora Nayak; Susan Coll; Sibbie O'Sullivan; Rose Solari; Robin Ferrier; Wendi Kaufman; Liz Poliner; Kate Blackwell; Sally Steenland, and Venus Thrash. Several more of the writers were in the audience: Lisa Boylan, CMDupre, M.H. Johnson, Susan Land, Michele Orwin, and Julie Wakeman-Linn, among others. Wow. I'm just going to repeat one of the blurbs, by Mollie Best Tinsley, because she says it best: "What do women write? These stories about, Everything, from as many points of view. Think potluck of pungent diversity. Think rough-edged visions, as opposed to neatly hemmed samplers from Culture, Inc. Enhanced Gravity surprises and entertains; it horrifies and hurts. And it enlightens, by modeling a rich, inclusive world." As at the launch of the first anthology, Grace and Gravity, Richard was asked, why an anthology of women writers? He answered, because he thought of it, and no one had done it before. News is, he's assembling a third anthology, Electric Grace, due in 2007. Stay tuned!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Monica Lavin's "Day and Night"

Monica Lavin's "Day and Night" was what I read last night at Candida's World of Books at my presentation of Mexico: A Traveler's Companion. A story polished to gem-shine, a kind of elaboration on a timeless myth, "Day and Night" is set in Acapatzingo, a little village near Cuernavaca.(More about it on the National Public Radio website.) Monica Lavin is herself the author of an anthology of Mexican fiction (Points of Departure) and several short story collections and novels, including the much-lauded Cafe cortado. Indeed, she is one of Mexico's most prolific and respected literary writers. Her website,, is in both Spanish and English, and includes a list of all her many books. Here's hoping more of her wonderful work makes its way into English translation. (Translators, please take note!)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

"Enhanced Gravity": Richard Peabody's Battle Cry for Fiction in the Nation's Capital

Fabulous poet, brilliant writer, big-hearted editor and visionary publisher Richard Peabody has done it again--- for the second time in less than 2 years--- assembled a big, juicy batch of literary fiction by Washington area women. (The first was Grace & Gravity -- which included "Manta Ray," a story by Yours Truly-- launched in October 2004 at a Women's National Book Association event at the historic Sewall-Belmont House on Capitol Hill. That anthology also included work by DC literary luminaries Carolyn Parkhurst, Mary Kay Zuravleff, Leslie Pietrzyk, Nani Power, Myra Sklarew, and Doreen Baingana.) Now ***the official launch is 6 pm this Saturday at the venerable Politics & Prose bookstore*** we have Enhanced Gravity, showcasing work by Stephanie Allen, Kate Blackwell, Carole Burns, Ramola D, Patricia Elam, Wendi Kaufman (yes, the Wendi Kaufman, aka The Happy Booker), Elizabeth Poliner, Julia Slavin, Rose Solari, Sallie Steenland, Venus Thrash, Julie Wakeman-Linn, and many others... The launch will feature Richard Peabody himself, and a panel of 10 of the 43 writers. I'm playing MC-- which basically means I get to hand around the microphone and lead the applause. There will be a lot of it, I can guarantee it!
P.S. Click here to read Richard's thoughts on the DC literary scene.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Candida's World of Books: Not in Kansas, Like, Ohmygod, Totally

Fab news for the book biz-- Washington DC has a new independent bookstore with a very special niche: international literature. With my dear amiga N., fellow Californian (so, I'm like, ohmygod, totally back in the groove), I just went over to Candida's World of Books the other day, and shook hands with the vivacious Candida herself. N. and I walked out with shopping bags full: books on DC, on Italy, on Rwanda, the hilarious The Meaning of Tingo, plus brightly colored luggage tags that said, for example, "you are not in Kansas anymore" (which about sums up the whole enchilada para mi). Candida's selection on India was also quite enticing... I'll be back sooner than soon, as I'm doing a reading and booksigning at Candida's this Thursday. Here's the announcement:

"Mexico: A Travelers' Literary Companion" edited by C.M. Mayo
Mexico has long been the top travel destination for Americans. But until now, there has not been such a panoramic vision of Mexico offered by some of Mexico's finest contemporary writers of fiction and literary prose. Here are writings - many translated for the first time - that bring you to the people of the beaches, the deserts, jungles, mountains, and mega-cities.

The voices are rich and diverse, enthralling, and strange. These writings shatter stereotypes as they provide a rollicking journey from the Pacific to the Gulf, from Yucatán to the U.S.-Mexico border, from humble ranchos to a fabulous mountain-top castle.

Contributors include rising stars as well as many of Mexico's best-known writers, including Araceli Ardon, Ines Arredondo, Agustin Cadena, Julieta Campos, Rosario Castellanos, Martha Cerda, Ricardo Elizondo Elizondo, Laura Esquivel, Bruno Estanol, Carlos Fuentes, Jesus Gardea, Raymundo Hernandez-Gil, Monica Lavin, Guadalupe Loaeza, Angeles Mastretta, C.M. Mayo, Raul Mejia, Carlos Monsivais, Pedro Angel Palou, Fernando del Paso, Daniel Reveles, Alberto Ruy Sánchez, Ilan Stavans, and Juan Villoro.

The editor, C.M. Mayo, is the author of Sky Over El Nido (winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for short fiction) and Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico. She is also founding editor of Tameme, one of the most prestigious publishers of Spanish/English translation.

C.M.Mayo at Candida's World of Books
June 15 at 6:30pm

for more info: Candida's World of Books
1541 14th Street, NW
tel. (202) 667-4811 Tue-Sat 10-10, Sun noon-8, closed Mondays

Monday, June 12, 2006

Alice & Pabu Are Blogging

This is Pabu, my grandma's Tibetan Spaniel, having his nap on the official Mayo tartan. My grandma died last year, so Pabu (Pabs for short) is now with my sister Alice. Alice says the dog park "dog mom" and "dog dad" culture is ridiculous; she claims that actually, because he belonged to Grandma, Pabu is her uncle. Um, OK. Their new blog is sure to be interesting: Alice and Pabu: The Journeys and Thoughts of a Californian Human and a Tibetan Spaniel. Picadou says, woof woof woof!

Tina Tries to Help

Who is Tina? I've no idea. "Tina Tries to Help" is the title of today's 5 minute writing exercise. I started this on October 1st-- so about 3 1/2 months more to go before there are 365 exercises on-line. Yes, I do the exercises myself. Sometimes I just print out the page, take it with me wherever, and scribble on the back. Five minutes is just enough time to fill about 1/2 to 3/4 of a page. Why 5 minutes? Click here to read all about it.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

On Publishing Essays of Creative Nonfiction (Personal Memoir, Etc)

Just back from the Washington Independent Writers Conference and my panel on memoir and essay with novelist and essayist Leslie Pietrzyk, Washingtonian features editor and writer Bill O'Sullivan, and op-ed "ghost" Mike Long (who made me laugh so much I almost had to put my forehead on the table-- in fact, I don't think I laughed so much since Pee-Wee Herman's last movie. Wasn't that 15 years ago?) I spent my 15 minutes talking about publishing in literary journals, and it was only afterwards that I realized, I'd forgotten to mention that the advice in the handout, my article "Out of the Forest of Noise: On Publishing the Literary Short Story," is also applicable to essays of literary memoir and creative nonfiction. (To read the article on-line click here.) Another thing tugging at the corner of my mind: someone in the audience, anxious to place her work, asked how to develop a relationship with an editor. I wish I'd thought to say it isn't so important as you probably imagine. Editors come and go. It might sound lame to say, "Just do good work and be politely persistent," but that, truly, is the best advice I could offer. Well, that and "laugh as much as you can." It's nuts.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Gone to the Litblogs: Squeeze Out the Time You Need

Litblogs are the newest literary genre, and a powerful one. To illustrate: a few weeks ago, at Book Expo America, at the booth of a well-known NY publisher, when I happened to mention my blog, I got the full canon-hose PR blast. The editor-in-chief made laser-like eye contact and offered anything anytime in the way of free review copies. She gave me her card, with her e-mail address and personal telephone number. It was scaaaary. On this blog, I do mention books I recommend here and there, but I'm not trying to be an "all about books" blog. (For that, I recommend Scott Esposito's Conversational Reading. Two others well worth visiting are Wendi Kaufman's The Happy Booker and Dan Wickett's Emerging Writers.) My blog, as noted above, is on books but also creative writing, literary translation, Mexico, Washington DC, the world, human potential, soundwork, and pugs. I've been blogging since late March, and learning about the blogosphere as I go... Blogs I regularly read and/or recommend are listed on my blogroll, to the right. Many writers over the age of 40 still don't know what the term "blog" means, and most of those who do know say they don't have time. I say, Squeeze out the time you need--- and you may not need much. Blogging is just making use of a free software designed to facilitate frequent updates, linking, and feeds. You can get your blog in less than five minutes. You can post every day, ten times a day, once a month-- your choice. You can post snippets or whole novels. You can allow comments, moderated comments, or no comments. It complements a website very nicely (translation: yes, I do get a heap more traffic now that I'm blogging.)
Previous "Gone to the Litblogs" posts:
--> What's Tops on Novelist Leslie Pietrzyk's Hitlist
--> Beltway's List of Litblogs in DC and Environs
--> Dan Wickett Recommends
--> Scott Esposito's Conversational Reading
--> Madam Mayo, Who (Alas) Did Not Get Carded...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Owned by Picadou

Owned by Pugs is a neat-o pug blog which I would highly recommend but now I very highly recommend because today's post features my own pug, Picadou, and in particular, the audio CD of my essay, "The Essential Francisco Sosa or, Picadou's Mexico City." A portion of all proceeds from the sales of this audio CD, by the way, go to benefit Presencia Animal, a Mexico City-based dog and cat rescue organization.

World Hum Hums About Mexico & Japan

Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion, my new anthology of Mexican fiction and literary prose, has just received a post in that humongous travel blog, World Hum: Travel Dispatches from a Shrinking Planet. Writes Frank Bures:
When asked how he prepares to travel to a country, Ryszard Kapuscinski said he reads the literature. Of course, not all of us have time to read an entire canon before every journey. Fortunately, Whereabouts Press has made sampling literature from some countries much easier with its Traveler’s Literary Companion series. Building on the strength of previous editions on Italy, Cuba, Vietnam and other places, the publisher has just added collections on Mexico and Japan. While the guides aren’t comprehensive (Haruki Murakami is notably absent from “Japan,” for example) they do offer a good way to get a feel for a place. They’re also a fine introduction to these countries’ writers, from greats like Carlos Fuentes and Kawabata Yasunari, to lesser known authors like Hino Keizo and Bruno Estanol.
Says Madam Mayo: A comprehensive guide to contemporary Mexican literature? Wow, set that on your lap and it would leave dents in your thighs. But well, one day soon such a thing may be downloadable into an ipod... For more about Bruno Estanol, click here.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Armaggeddon of the Anti-Blog

It's 6-6-6...Another postcard with a grizzly bear in a tutu has arrived: Edna Spokane says that if she were to blog, and she will not blog, her blog would be "The Armaggeddon of the Anti-Blog." Her first and only post would be, "I Refuse to Blog," and you may not comment. She has no news whatsoever about her recent work; she is no longer taking out the Winnebago; she's been devouring Clusterf--k Nation; right now she is busy growing hydroponic carrots. The permafrost is melting, man.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Agustin Cadena's "Lady of the Seas" in El Calendario de Todos Santos

News from Todos Santos, Baja California Sur:"Lady of the Seas," my translation of Mexican writer Agustin Cadena's short story, which appears in Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion, is in the latest issue of El Calendario de Todos Santos. (To read the story in English, click here.) Todos Santos has a big place in my heart: I wrote about it in my book, Miraculous Air (and in The Visitors/ Los Visitantes, a chapter in bilingual format of the same), and over the last nearly 20 years, I've visited this little town more times than I could count. Every time except twice, I think, I went to the Caffe Santa Fe-- that most excellent and unlikely Italian restuarant. Two adjectives to describe Todos Santos: dusty and arty. But in other respects it is changing fast. It's quite something to see all the ads in El Calendario de Todos Santos: for the Galeria de Todos Santos, Jill Logan Galeria, The Charles Stewart Gallery & Studio, Galeria Wall, Ezra Katz Fine Art Gallery, the boutiques, the surf shops, resturants, decorators, hotels, yoga classes, and oh, the real estate! Is this town not soaking up gringos like a sponge? I'm here in Washington DC where it seems everyone has a soundbite about Mexican immigration. But there's quite a story about the flow going in the other direction... Cadena, by the way, is blogging from Hungary with El vino y la hiel. If you read Spanish, check it out: you will see what a splendid writer he is. His short story, "An Avocado from Michoacan" will be Tameme's first chapbook, due this July. More anon.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Write Now, Visualize Swirled Peas

The Writers Center in Bethesda MD (just outside of Washington DC) has a new bumper sticker: WRITE NOW. A bumper sticker I saw on a pickup truck in the Politics & Prose bookstore parking lot: VISUALIZE SWIRLED PEAS. And on a SAAB in College Park MD: THINK POSITIVE THOUGHTS. A bumper sticker writer Tod Goldberg can take credit for: DICK CHENEY IS THE DARK OVERLORD OF THE FUCKTARD ILLUMINATI. What do your characters's bumper stickers say? That's today's five minute writing exercise.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Wierd But Welcome Snippet of a Review for Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion

Just noted in Northern California's East Bay Express: "Tequila sunrise: Warts, squash sandwiches, an exploding kitchen, and visions of a woman who 'would make herself throw up into a bedpan and later drink the vomit' flit through Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion (Whereabouts, $14.95). Stories by 24 writers are arranged regionally by Berkeley's C.M. Mayo. Staking a bivouac in the border wars, she declares on the first page that Mexico's boundaries have been 'brutally cut back by the United States.'" It's news to me that I live in Berkeley, however. Neither do I own a Che T-Shirt. (What's Che doing in this post anyway?)

Friday, June 02, 2006

Smells Today: The Daily 5 Has Resumed

A towel warm from the dryer, my pug's fur (after she rolled on the grass outside), coffee, pound cake heated in the microwave, dish soap, laundry soap, Joy de Patou, charcoal-broiled hamburger, a wet sidewalk, someone's lemony aftershave lingering in the elevator...What did you smell today? That's today's 5 minute exercise, which has resumed.

Luis Alberto Urrea

It was so much fun to take that "Literary Look at Mexico" with Luis Alberto Urrea the other day at Washington DC's Mexican Cultural Institute. He has such a big heart, a keen sense of humor, and an original take on just about everything. I've been a big fan of Luis Alberto's ever since I came across his work about the U.S.-Mexico border when I was researching my own book about Baja California, Miraculous Air. His latest book-- a very big one -- and I hear a movie is going to be made-- is The Hummingbird's Daughter, a novel based on the true story of his relative, a famous curandera known as Saint Teresita of Cabora. It took him 20 years to write this book, for it included so much original research in archives and also in the field, with shamans and curanderas in Mexico. At the event, Luis Alberto said (as I more or less remember it) that one of them told him that writing is a kind of healing. In the spirit world there are many souls lost in the darkness. When an artist makes art, he flares up, bright like a bonfire--- and the lost souls use these lights to help them find their way. (A while ago-- I've been meaning to post this---Daniel Olivas alerted me to his fascinating interview with Luis Alberto for The Elegant Variation. To read the interview, click here.)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Not The Real World

I'm back from a week's residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the artist colony an hour south of Charlottesville, VA, where I worked on my novel, admired the cows, shooed a large black snake out of my studio, talked about Bread Loaf & literary translation with poet Loren Graham, saw a slide show by photographer Rudiger Bergmann, listened to the poetry of Barbara Crooker and Deborah Creasey, and new pages from the novel-in-progress set in India (so far) of Elizabeth Kadetsky-- who also happens to be a roaringly gifted psychic. Back in the Real World (if Washington DC can be considered such): last night at the Mexican Cultural Institute, in "A Literary Look at Mexico", a very interesting panel discussion with Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Hummingbird's Daughter. I talked about Miraculous Air and Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion. Ray Suarez was moderator. More anon.