Monday, August 28, 2017

Haiku in the Guadalupe Mountains of Far West Texas

McKittrick Canyon, Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Photo: C.M. Mayo
(This will give you a much better idea of the
extraordinary quality of this letterpress printing
by Matthew Kelsey)
As those of you who follow this blog well know, I am at work on a book about Far West Texas and, as part of this work, back in May of this year, I was the artist-in-residence at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. About an hour and half drive east of El Paso, the Guadalupe Mountains are little visited, especially outside of holidays and weekends in the fall and spring seasons. Although I was there for the crush of Memorial Day weekend, it wasn't much of a crush; for the rest of my stay I often had trails all to myself-- except for the rattlesnakes. I happened upon two rattlesnakes in my two weeks, one curled up in the middle of the trail; the other darted out right in front of me, rattling loudly, from the brush. It's not Disneyland out there.

I'll be writing about the Guadalupe Mountains at length, but here I'd like to share a photo of my official donation to the park. All artists-in-residence give a workshop, and donate a work or art-- in my case, it will be a framed letterpress broadsheet of seven haiku, "In the Guadalupe Mountains."

The first haiku from "In the Guadalupe Mountains" by C.M. Mayo

This letterpress printing was done by Matthew Kelsey of Saratoga, California. Poets and others with something special to have printed, I warmly recommend Matt Kelsey, he is a master craftsman and a pleasure to work with.

The seventh haiku from "In the Guadalupe Mountains" by C.M. Mayo

> Visit my poetry page here. I'll be posting the haiku there.

P.S. Last fall one of the artists-in-residence  in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park was one of my very favorite painters, Mary Baxter of Marfa, Texas. Listen in to my interview with her here. Check out her landscapes, many of the Guadalupe Mountains, here.

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.

Monday, August 21, 2017

METEOR Wins the Gival Press Poetry Award

Delighted and honored to announce that my poetry collection, Meteor, has won the Gival Press Poetry Award and will be published in 2018.

Founding editor of Gival Press, Robert L. Giron, is an amigo from my days in Washington DC, and a fellow El Pasoan, so I am especially delighted that he will be my publisher. I am even more honored, however, to know that Robert did not select Meteor for the prize; for Gival Press he runs a blindly judged contest (no names on the manuscripts), the winner chosen from a pool of finalists by the winner of the previous year's Gival Press Poetry Award. So Meteor was chosen by someone I have not yet had the privilege of meeting: Linwood D. Rumney. His book is the haunting Abandoned Earth.

Rains of karmic lotus petals upon you, dear Linwood D. Rumney!

> Visit my poetry page.

> Poems in Meteor now online include
Man High (originally published in BorderSenses)
UFO, 1990 (originally published in Gargoyle)
In the Garden of Lope de Vega (originally published in the anthology edited by Robert L. Giron, Poetic Voices without Borders)
Stay West (as messily typed on my 1961 Hermes 3000)

Meteor takes its title from the poem that was originally published waaaaaaa-hey-hey-yyyy back in 1996 in the anthology American Poets Say Goodbye to the 20th Century, edited by Andrei Codrescu and Laura Rosenthal, and again in Ryan Van Cleave and Virgil Suarez's anthology Red, White and Blues: Poets on the Promise of America, 2004.

P.S. Hell yeah, I am still at work on the Far West Texas book. Stay tuned for the upcoming Marfa Mondays Podcasts. I invite you to listen in anytime to the 20 podcasts that have been posted to date.

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.

Monday, August 14, 2017

What's Happening in Mexico City: Bridges Not Walls!

Did you know that there are some 1.5 million U.S. citizens living in Mexico? Many of them, including myself, have been here for decades and have binational families, and we are profoundly aware of the importance of maintaining good relations between the US and Mexico.

Here is some excellent news in this direction.

Last week, thanks to the digital wizardry of Helena von Nagy, the website of Bridges for Understanding went live from Mexico City. Anyone and everyone who cares about US-Mexico relations, please check out this grassroots effort in the American community here to help promote better understanding, and so better relations, between the US and Mexico. Their mission is:

To contribute to the preservation of US-Mexican relations based on an exchange of ideas, personal narratives, and advocacy.

Mary O'Keefe and sons
The founding members / leadership team are Monica French, Mary O'Keefe, Nancy Westfal de Garrulo, Sam Stone, Jan Silverman, Helena von Nagy, and Lisa Milton. Check out their bios, they are impressive bunch!

Here's what they say about who they are:

Bridges for Understanding (B4U) is a grassroots, non-partisan, membership and advocacy organization comprised of primarily U.S. citizens and bi-nationals living in Mexico and elsewhere working side by side with their Mexican neighbors.
Founded in January 2017,  B4U strives to promote the shared principles of freedom and economic prosperity that bind the two nations. We seek to combat the deterioration of bilateral relationsand its impact on human rights, commerce and economic stability on both sides of the border.

Many U.S. and Mexican academic and nonprofit institutions are networking with Bridges for Understanding, among them, the American Benevolent Society, CIDE, Global Jewish Advocacy, New Comienzos, Rotary International, the Wilson Center, and many more. 

I am proud to report that that my blog post is the first for the B4U cultural blog: "A Visit to the Casa de la Primera Imprenta de América in Mexico City."

"A Visit to the Casa de la Primera Imprenta de América in Mexico City."

So check out, surf around in there, and if you like what you see, become a member, sign up for the listserv, tweet, FB, whatever you can do to help build bridges.

P.S. You will find Bridges for Understanding on Twitter @Bridges4underst

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Spotlight on Mexican Fiction: "The Apaches of Kiev" by Agustín Cadena in Tupelo Quarterly, and Much More

Delighted to announce that my translation of the short story by Agustín Cadena, "The Apaches of Kiev," appears in the very fine U.S. literary journal, Tupelo Quarterly. It's a story at once dark and deliciously wry. It caught my attention because, well, everything Cadena writes catches my attention-- he is one of my favorite writers in Mexico, or anywhere-- and he happens to be living in Hungary, so the Eastern Europe angle is no surprise. In all, Cadena's is a unique and powerful voice in contemporary fiction, and I hope you'll have a read.


(Originally published in Spanish on Agustín Cadena's blog, El vino y la hiel
Translated by C.M. Mayo
The story about the body they found in the Botanic Garden came out in the newspapers and on television. The Kiev police identified it immediately: Dmitri Belov, reporter and political analyst known for his scathing criticism of President Poroshenko’s administration. Presumably it was a suicide, but until they could confirm this verdict, the police had been ordered to put all resources to work.
Among the underemployed— peddlers and prostitutes— who roamed the Botanical Garden, very few were aware of this. So how was anyone else to find out? They didn’t have televisions and they didn’t spend their money on newspapers. Understandably, those who knew about the body avoided that area. They knew there would have been a commotion, and especially if the body belonged to someone important. The police would go around searching for possible witnesses to interrogate, and by the way, shake them down on other charges. It wouldn’t do any good to explain to the police what they already knew: that every week all of these underemployed people paid a bribe to be left in peace. 
Ignorant of everything, three men of approximately 40 years of age, exotic-looking, dressed like Apaches in a Western movie, appeared after 11 in the morning. They were Ernesto Ortega, Gonzalo Acevedo and Milton Guzmán: Mexican, Salvadorean and Venezuelan, respectively. The three of them dressed identically: a headdress of white feathers that went from their heads down to their waists, jacket and trousers of coffee-colored leather with fringe on the sleeves and the back, moccasins, and ritual battle makeup. They carried assorted musical instruments and they took turns playing Andean music: “El cóndor pasa,” “Pájaro Chogüi,” “Moliendo café,” etc. They knew the music did not go with the costumes nor the costumes with their ethnicities, but this strange combination was what worked for them commercially. Americaphilia was at its height in Kiev, and passersby were happy to give money to these “North American Indians” who played the music “of their people.” Perhaps the happy notes of “La flor de la canela” led the Ukrainians to imagine the beauty of life in teepees, among the buffalo, wild horses, mountain lions, and bald-headed eagles. The fact is, in addition to playing and signing, the “Apaches” also sold their CDs of this same music, displayed on a cloth spread on the ground. [... CONTINUE READING

P.S. My amiga the poet and writer Patricia Dubrava also translates Cadena. Check out some of her excellent translations at Mexico City Lit.

# # #

This past Saturday I had the good fortune to be able to attend Cadena's book presentation in one of my favorite Mexico City bookstores, the FCE Rosario Castellanos in Condesa. (Here is where I interviewed Michael Schuessler about his biography of Pita Amor, among other works.) Cadena was presenting a novel for young readers, La casa de los tres perros (The House of the Three Dogs) and along for the ride came a group of Mexican writers who have stories in his latest anthology, Callejeros, cuentos urbanos de mundos soñados (My rough translation of that might be, Street People: Stories of Urban Dreamworlds). Happily for me, this also meant a chance to visit with my friend the Mexican novelist and historian Silvia Cuesy. Here we are with Agustín Cadena:

C.M. Mayo, Agustín Cadena, Silvia Cuesy
at the Rosario Castellanos FCE Bookstore, Mexico City

Agustín Cadena's anthology of short fiction, Callejeros
and novel for young readers, La Casa de los tres perros

Mexican writers in Agustín Cadena's anthology, Callejeros
Front row:
León Cuevas, Sandra Luna, Agustín Cadena
Back row:
 Eduardo islas, Cristina Manterola, ?, ?,
José Antonio Bautista, Silvia Cuesy

Table of contents, Callejeros

Back cover, Callejeros

Cadena, right in white hat, presenting his novel for young readers.
La casa de los tres perros,
in the FCE Rosario Castellanos bookstore in Mexico City
August 5, 2017

Watch the video for Kickstarter with Mayte Romo of Editorial Elementum, publisher of Callejeros:

Click here to watch the video

Putting on my armchair-sociologist sombrero now: Aside from its high quality (both its literary content and as an object), what is especially interesting about Callejeros is that the editor lives abroad and the publisher is based in a provincial town-- Pachuca, in the state of Hidalgo. Mexican literary culture and publishing has long been overwhelmingly concentrated in Mexico City, but with the digital revolution it seems this is opening up quickly. I talked a bit about this in my talk for a 2015 American Literary Translators Association panel I chaired:

P.S. I mention both this wondrous Mexico City FCE bookstore and Cadena in my longform essay now available on Kindle, "Dispatch from the Sister Republic or, Papelito Habla," an overview of the Mexican literary landscape and the power of the book.

And for those who follow this blog, yes, I remain at work on the book about Far West Texas. Stay tuned for the next podcasts. My latest writing on the subject includes a review of Patrick Dearen's Bitter Waters: The Struggles of the Pecos River.

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.