Cesar Chavez Fast

I am fasting April 16th and April 17th as part of a community celebration of Cesar Chavez sponsored by Latino Boys Leadership and Inclusive Lafayette.

In 1982 I saw the movie Gandhi. His life and words captivated me; I went to see the movie several more times and began reading his book of aphorisms and sayings. Even as a 4th grader, I recognized wisdom.

Gandhi’s fasts were a means of self-purification and political protest. As founder of the UFW, Chavez had similar reasons for fasting. Daniel Escalante sent me information about the fast, including this youtube video of first hand accounts of Chavez’s fasting.

Fasting is a spiritual practice and a nonviolent response to a manifest injustice, and so, I follow the legacy of Chavez and Gandhi in dedicating my two day fast to heartfelt spiritual purification and to

reducing incarceration rates, ending the new jim crow, and turning the US prison industry complex into a system of justice.

The millions of men (and their families) whose liberty is curtailed by the prison […]

Walk Like A Man – Retort Magazine

I am very pleased to announce that a short story I wrote was published in Retort Magazine. The magazine was founded nine years ago by Brentley Frazer and continues to publish “new innovative, experimental cutting edge art + text in all disciplines”. Yes, indeed!

I have been trying to get published for a while. Using Writers Database to track submissions takes some of the sting out of all the rejections, depersonalizes them by turning each one into a number. Out of 59 submissions, this is my first acceptance. When I read the email, I did a little dance. Then I happily emailed the other dozen journals where the story was still pending.

If you are interested in more of my stories, and I hope you are, my bio page now has Prison Cell, an MP3 recording of a reading I did with Luis Valadez at Boulder Naropa SWP 2006.

In the next week or so, I will be adding more of my writing so check back or click the Get as Email link to […]

Fancy Broccoli

Since I’ve been working as a house painter I’ve been able to listen to hours of interesting podcasts daily, everything from lectures on the Brothers Karamazov to fanboys talking about comic books.

Last week while listening to wzen.org I came across a new podcast that is worth sharing. The Fancy Broccoli Show combines music and discussion of prison reform. So far I listened to the Ron Hayes interview from 2007. I was very moved by his story, dedication, and wisdom.

One of the important things Mr. Hayes is working on concerns PTSD among people in US prisons. He talks about the link between PTSD and drug use (aka self-medication). And near the end he reads some of his own poetry.


Prison Town

In Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud the comic book guru talks about the vast potential of the sequential art ? in story telling. He’s not only talking about superhero comics versus graphic novels. McCloud is talking about comics being used in all varieties of narrative forms.

Prison Town: Paying the Price, a comic published by the real cost of prisons project, makes very effective use of the sequential art ?. The information it contains is so important for a nation who imprisons more people than any other. But that information can be dry and incomprehensible. Prison Town uses the comic form to make the data easily understood and memorable.

The Stereotypical Cliche

Last week I listened to an interview on KCRW’s Bookworm of Helena Maria Viramontes for her new book Their Dogs Came with Them. The host, Michael Silverblatt, gave such high praise for the book that I immediately added it to my reading list.

But he also asked Viramontes a very pointed question about stereotypes:

“There’s something that I read happened during the course of the writing of the book that I find fascinating and I’d like to discuss. Apparently, one of your students at Cornell was the wonderful writer, Junot Diaz, who came along and read some of this book and said,

“We know some of these characters. These are the cliches of latino and latina fiction.”

September 2nd, 2007 | Tags: | Category: Poiesis | Comments are closed

Teaching Creative Writing in Prison

is just what I might be doing this summer. It’s been a goal of mine to get involved in volunteering in prison for the past few years. Now it looks like it is actually going to happen. Last weekend I attended a training workshop with the Shambhala Prison Community and out of that started a conversation with Bill Karelis. Bill told me that the SPC is very interested in starting writing programs in prison and has begun working on two such projects already (one in Spain and one in Australia). I told Bill that I’ve been talking with my friend, Tim Z. Hernandez about doing this kind of work for a while. I explained that both Tim and I are drawn to working with people in prison for similar reasonspeople we love have been in or still are in prison. Last week the three of us had breakfast and decided now was the time to make this happen. I’ll share more details as we get them figured out.