Thursday, May 31, 2007

Strange Bookmarks Over at Hebdomeros

Reads like a poem. Once, in a biography of General Bazaine, I found a typed receipt for pounds sterling dated 1942.

Testimonios: Early California Through the Eyes of Women

Just yesterday, on a sunny patio overlooking Mexico City's cathedral no less, I got my autographed copy of Testimonios: Early California through the Eyes of Women, 1815–1848, Translated with introduction and commentary by Rose Marie Beebe and Robert M. Senkewicz. Here's the jacket text:

"When in the early 1870s historian Hubert Howe Bancroft sent interviewers out to gather oral histories from the pre-statehood gentry of California, he didn’t count on one thing: the women. When the men weren’t available, the interviewers collected the stories of the women of the household—almost as an afterthought. These were eventually archived at the University of California, although many were all but forgotten. Having lived through the gold rush and seen their country change so drastically, these women understood the need to tell the full story of the people and the places that were their California. Some of their words are translated here into English for the first time."

The stories and the voices are amazing. I'll be away from blogging for a day or so in order to finish it. Hasta la vista.

Richard Peabody's Novel Class

If you're in the Washington DC area and have a novel that needs work, don't miss this one. Richard Peabody's novel class is limited to 5 students. He writes:

"We meet every two weeks on Wednesday day nights 7:30 until 10pm at my house in Arlington, Virginia. Four to five blocks from Virginia Square Metro station. June 27; July 11; July 25; August 8; August 22; September 5; September 11 [Tuesday]. Cost is $500 to be paid before the first night....Why do I teach this class? Because you can go to your favorite bookshop and lift any number of contemporary novels off the shelf and read a few chapters only to discover that they fall apart at chapter four. Why? I’ve found that most MFA programs only critique the first three chapters of your manuscript. Plus, I’ve learned from the hands-on experience of teaching this course that a complete reading and critique is absolutely the best way (dare I say only way) to go. What’s the advantage of a small class like this one? There’s nothing quite like having five people discuss your characters as though they were living people for 2 ½ hours...."

Alumni from Peabody’s 22 years of university, Writer’s Center, and private classes with filmed screenplays, books in print (or forthcoming)include: Mark Baechtel, Doreen Baingana, Toby Barlow, Maggie Bartley, Jodi Bloom, Sean Brijbasi, Peter Brown, Robert Cullen, Priscilla Cummings, Katherine Davis, Lucinda Ebersole, Sandy Florian, Cara Haycak, Dave Housley, Catherine Kimrey, Adam Kulakow, Nathan Leslie, Redge Mahaffey, Charlotte Manning, Meena Nayak,Matthew Olshan, William Orem, Mary Overton, Saideh Pakravan, Carolyn Parkhurst, Sally Pfoutz, Nani Power, Carey Roberts, Lisa Schamess, Brenda Seabrooke, Julia Slavin, David Taylor, Lisa M. Tillman, Sharlie West, and Yolanda Young.

Read more about this workshop and all about Richard at

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Yet More Pix of Las Pozas

By my amiga N.: Sir Edward James's surrealistic garden, Las Pozas," in Xilotla, San Luis Potosi. (Here's my recent post.)


Monday, May 28, 2007

Dawn Marano in Pilates Style

Dawn Marano, the fabulously talented, dream of an editor of my book, Miraculous Air, back when it was published with University of Utah Press (it's just out now in paperback with Milkweed Editions) has since gone freelance with Dawn Marano & Associates. But her own writing is powerful and quite fascinating. To get a taste of it, check out this month's issue of Pilates Style, in which she recounts her story with figure skating. She was an accomplished skater but after a severe injury, she had to give it up. Years later, it was her dedication to a regimen of pilates that gave her the strength and flexibility to return to the ice and now, at the age of 50, she is competing on the national circuit. It's an amazing and inspiring story.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Kim Roberts's Zora Neale Hurston Walking Tour

My DC poetry amiga Kim Roberts writes:
"The Zora Neale Hurston Walking Tour I wrote is now available on line! You can download the tour now from the Humanities Council of Washington, DC website. Go to this page and click on Zora's photo. Or--- here's the direct link to the PDF file. This tour sweeps you back to an earlier time: a time of blues and jazz, and—amid the cruel oppression of segregation-—- a time of great aspirations... The literary and arts movement we now call the Harlem Renaissance was just starting, and, despite its name, it was starting here."

To read Kim Roberts's previous post on Madam Mayo, click here.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Fanny Chambers Gooch: Face to Face with the Mexicans

Fascinating discussion today with the Mexican translator of Fanny Chambers Gooch's classic tome, Face to Face with the Mexicans: the domestic life, educational, social and business ways, statesmanship and literature, legendary and general history of the Mexican people, as seen and studied by an American woman during seven years of intercourse with them. This richly documented 584 page portrait of Porfirian Mexico was originally published in 1887 and not brought out in Spanish until about 10 years ago. A severely abridged version, of which Madam Mayo does not approve, was published by University of Southern Illinois in 1966. Links anon.

Fundacion para las Letras Mexicanas

A very interesting meeting yesterday at the Fundacion para las Letras Mexicanas where I met several of their young writers in residence-- some from as far away as Chiapas. And I was given a copy of the massive (really, it weighs as much as a brick) new French anthology, Cent Ans de Litterature Mexicaine, edited by Philippe Olle-Laprune. I was delighted to see that it includes many of the writers and poets I've either translated or published in Tameme or included in my own anthology, Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion: Carlos Fuentes, Jaime Sabines, Fernando del Paso, Ines Arredondo, Julieta Campos, Carlos Monsivais, Rosario Castellanos, Gabriel Zaid, Alvaro Mutis, Juan Villoro, Daniel Sada, Fabio Morabito, Alberto Ruy Sanchez, Jesus Gardea, Guillermo Samperio, Elsa Cross, Coral Bracho, and Eduardo Hurtado. But there are many, many more to discover. More anon.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Casa Brava Writers' Retreat in Oaxaca

Writer Jessica Treat, who is on Casa Brava's advisory board, sends me this message: "The website for Casa Brava, a new writer's residency in Oaxaca, Mexico for American & Mexican writers (and eventually artists as well), is up & running. Take a look. The director (Sarah Van Arsdale) is now accepting applications for September-Nov. 2007."

Alicia Borinsky's "Golpes Bajos / Low Blows" Translated by Cola Franzen

is a collection of stories set in Buenos Aires and it is fantastic. Writes Julio Ortega, "A Masterpiece of irony." Writes Marguerite Feitlowitz, "No one working today writes like Alicia Borinsky, whose words explode off the page." I could not have said it better. I have long been an admirer of both Borinsky, and Franzen, who is one of the most dedicated, original and elegant literary translators working today. Suffice it to say that Franzen won the 2004 PEN Literary Award and the Gregory Kolovakos Award.

(Full disclosure: some of Borinsky's poem with Franzen's translations are in Tameme's premier issue. The third issue, "Reconqusita," features a switcheroo: Franzen translated by Borinsky.)

For more about the extraordinary Golpes Bajos / Low Blows, click here or visit the book's site at the University of Wisconsin Press.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

You Blog, I Blog, Bloggity Blog Blog Blog

So this morning an interesting e-mail exchange with the wondrous NYC and San Miguel de Allende-based writer, Janice Eidus, who has a sure to be fabulous new novel coming out, The War of the Rosens. (She's a well-known writing teacher and author of the story collection, Vito Loves Geraldine, among many other works.) She's the third writer this week who has asked me about blogging and how it can help promote a book. Well, amigas, here's an example: just this morning, the widely-read Phronesisaical, a philosophy, torture, fruit pix, and politics blog of a DC area philosophy professor who goes by the "nom de blogue" Helmut, just--- bless his heart--- mentioned the news that my memoir, Miraculous Air, is now out in paperback. And by the way, "Helmut" himself has an anthology of essays on torture forthcoming with Johns Hopkins University Press. Stay tuned! What's fun is that new readers find my work thanks to "the Phron" while, perhaps, new readers will find Janice Eidus and "Helmut" thanks to "Madam Mayo." Yes, it can get cliquish and circular. But at the same time, it sends readers out in all sorts of fresh directions, no? While I lament the recent and precipitous decline in print book reviews, I love reading blogs. The world seems much larger and certainly quirkier to me as a result. All this said, here at Madam Mayo I don't blog much about book promotion. (Pretty much everything I have to say about that is here.) For an outstanding blog about that subject, check out M.J. Rose's Buzz, Balls & Hype.

Leonora Carrington

Apropos of Sir Edward James, who was a great friend of Leonora Carrington's, an interesting article by one of her lost-long English relatives. I've been watching the DVD about Las Pozas, in which Carrington reminisces about her extraordinary friend.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

More Pix of Las Pozas

More photos by amiga N. of Sir Edward James's surrealist garden, Las Pozas, in Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Click here to see my previous post with links to the documentary film.


Pet Food Recall

It amazes me, but many of my friends have not heard about the massive and multiple pet food recalls. (Why hasn't there been more reported about this in the press? One wonders...) Amigos, here's the info:

The first place to get info is at Menu Foods. This is the manufacturer of the problem foods. (It's quite shocking to see how many brands are manufactured in the same places--- this in itself is a major scandal.) This webpage includes all the press releases with the official recall lists and links to official sources of information.

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center This has links to
*Pet Food Recall List Update as of 4/27
*Pet Food Recall Frequently Asked Questions
*Press Release on the Emergency

* What's Really in Commercial Dog Food?
* What to Feed Your Dog--- Madam Mayo's blog post.
More anon.

From Mexico to Miramar or, Across the Lake of Oblivion

"From Mexico to Miramar or, Across the Lake of Oblivion," my essay from the December 2006 Massachusetts Review, was recently named a finalist for the Texas Institute of Letters O. Henry Award for Best Magazine Journalism. It's on-line at last--- read the whole enchilada here.

A Visit to Las Pozas, Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico


This photo, by my amiga N., is from a recent visit to Sir Edward James's Las Pozas, a surrealistic garden in Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico. One of the little-known but spectacular treasures of Mexico. Click here to read about the superb documentary film by Avery Danziger, "Edward James, Builder of Dreams."

--->Click here for more pix of Las Pozas

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Happy Booker Goes South of the Border with Narco Corridos & Mas

Today on the Happy Booker, author Sam Quinones has put together a list of the top Mexican immigrant corridos by Los Tigres del Norte, the most important bi-national band and the foremost musical chroniclers of the Mexican-immigrant experience. He's reading and signing his new book, Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream, tonight in Washington DC at Olsson's Dupont Circle. Madam Mayo is a ginormous fan! Here's my Wilson Quarterly review of his first book, True Tales from Another Mexico.

(My own Mexican music selections for the Happy Booker, apropos of Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion and the audio CD "The Essential Francisco Sosa or, Picadou's Mexico City" are here).

Washington Independent Writers Conference Saturday June 9th

It's going to be very fun. Francine Prose, Leslie Pietrzyk, Beryl Lieff Benderly, Kenneth Ackerman, Kai Bird, Mary Kay Zuravleff, moi, and many more, including literary agents galore. (I'm chairing the travel writing panel). You can register up to the very day of the conference, but today is the last day to get a discount for early registration. Click here for more info. More anon.

DC's The Slow Cook Rants & Raves Against the Chinese and the FDA

Thundernation, he's right, what can I say. (I'd like him a lot better, though, if he would profess an interest in buying new books.)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Carol Olmstead's Feng Shui Tips for Writers

Today's is another guest-blog post, this time by Feng Shui expert Carol Olmstead. I know her, she's fantastic, and yes it works. (I used to think Feng Shui was silly until I began reading books like The Holographic Universe. Cutting-edge physicists are demonstrating that the universe is connected in ways our "rational" minds cannot begin to fathom.) Here's her post:

Feng Shui For Writers by Carol Olmstead

There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
W. Somerset Maugham

The rules for writing a novel may be a mystery, but the Feng Shui rules for setting up the space where you write are well known. Whether you are a professional writer, a would be author, or just need a creative boost to get your writing juices flowing, when you write in a setting that is balanced and harmonious, all of your writing efforts will be successful:

* Create a Writing Space—whether it is a separate room or only a corner of the kitchen, designate an area where you write; use the space preferably at the same time every day.

* Face the Door—sit in the power position, diagonally across from the door, so you are in command of your writing.

* Change Your View—hang artwork directly in front of you that shows gently moving water, which symbolizes flow and creativity for your writing projects.

* Add Living Things—surround yourself with plants and flowers to represent the Wood Element, which encourages growth of your writing skills.

* Enhance Your Fame—Display copies of your published works, complimentary letters, and awards you have won in the Fame/Future area of your writing space to encourage you to move forward.

* Call on Mentors—Place copies of books or articles from writers you admire in your Helpful People area to act as mentors for your writing projects.

Madam Mayo says: Check out Carol's excellent website, for many more tips and the sign-up for her free newsletter.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

On the Art of Writing (& Travel Writing & Literary Translation)

Apropos of my recent reading of Miraculous Air at University of Maryland Baltimore, here's an interview with the Retriever Weekly on the art of writing. There is also an article about the event here.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

PEN Writers in the Schools

This morning I was a "PEN writer in the schools"--- visiting Mr Igoudjil's highschool humanities class at Washington DC's School Without Walls for a discussion of my collection of Mexican fiction and literary prose, Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion. In recent years, I've done several of these school visits, both for this anthology and my book of stories, Sky Over El Nido. It's a terrific program and the kids are always--- and especially this morning--- so bright and interested. This time however, there was something entirely new. Before my visit, Mr Igoudjil's class posted their comments about Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion on his blog--- to date, 53 comments, on everything from Monica Lavin's "Day and Night" to Juan Villoro's "One-Way Street" to Daniel Reveles's "Big Caca's Revenge." To read the comments, click here. The last PEN witer to visit Mr Igoudjil's class was Tim Wendel, and the next up is Marie Arana. More anon.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Gone to the Litblogs: Kim Roberts's Top 5 Litblogs

While Madam Mayo is on blog vacation, DC poet, author of The Kimnama, and Beltway editor Kim Roberts guestblogs:

The Madam asks me about my top 5 blogs. Many of my favorite blogs are ones I have a personal connection to. I guess that's not uncommon (we all like to read blogs in which there's a possibility we might actually get mentioned). But it makes the first half of my list highly subjective. So here goes:

Three favorite blogs by people I know:

1. Vrzhu Bullets of Love
This blog includes some fascinating entries from Michael Gushue on NatPoWriMo (with links to others who also took on the challenge to write a new poem every single day of April, and his last day's poem, a terrific sestina). Dan Vera offers some great entries on the birthdays and death days of famous writers. These guys are also my publishers, so I have a vested interest. And yes, my name can be found in the blog.

2. The Happy Booker
OK--I'm friends with Wendi Kaufman. But I swear this is true: I was reading her blog regularly before we met. I love the focus on the DC literary community. That is not to say the blog is parochial or narrow. Far from it. The Booker is always informative and stimulating. And, in the spirit of full disclosure, I have been a guest blogger. So my name appears.

3. Bill Knott's Blog
I swear that I do NOT appear anywhere in this blog. But Knott was my teacher. And there's not a quirkier sensibility out there. Read these poems!

The second part of my list is arguably not about literature, but some might argue that EVERYTHING is eventually about literature, and I know that I find these blogs inspiring. I have no connection to these people. But I think I'd like them.

4. The Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society
Debunked scientific and medical theories, extreme architecture, anachronistic cooking, strange could easily get lost in this site and never re-emerge. Or re-emerge profoundly changed. This blog is packed with wonder and awe.

5. The Daily Render
Manipulated aerial maps made into beautiful quilt-like patterns by Nikolas Schiller. Some are strikingly beautiful, some are rather sinister. There's an entire section of maps of DC. Among other treats.

I should come clean and say that while I love looking at blogs, I have never, not even once, responded to one on the actual blog site. I am a ghost in the machine. I guess this officially makes me a Blurker. Is that blad?

--- Kim Roberts, Editor, Beltway Poetry Quarterly

Madam Mayo says: Check out Kim Robert's new book, The Kimnama. Here's her upcoming DC book tour: Tonight, Wednesday May 9th at 7pm, Brookland Reading Series, Vrzhu Press reading with Hiram Larew and Kim Roberts, Brookland Visitors Center, 3420 9th St. NE, DC. (202) 526-1632. Hosted by Michael Gushue and Dan Vera. Free Admission. May 24, 7pm, Hiram Larew and Kim Roberts, Coyote Joe's Cafe, 3401 Hartzdale Drive, Camp Hill, PA. (717) 730-0633. Hosted by Alex Hartman and Marty Essworthy. Free Admission. Friday, June 8 at 6:30 pm, Kim Roberts, Candida's World of Books, 1541 14th St. NW, DC. (202) 667-4811. Hosted by Candida Mannozzi. Free Admission. Sunday, June 10 at 2:00 pm, Vrzhu Press Reading: Hiram Larew and Kim Roberts The Writers Center, 4508 Walsh St., Bethesda, MD. (301) 654-8664. For more information or to order a book, please see

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Blogging Vacation Until May 10

Got to finish the last chapter of the novel. And finalize Tameme chapbook #2. Hasta pronto. Back on May 10th.

CINCO DE MAYO UPDATE: See my post from last May. And about the imbroglio, whatever imbroglio, mais quois, the self-justifying memoirs pop up like mushrooms. For an introduction to the French in Mexico, see Jean Meyer's anthology, Yo, el frances.