My new book – entitled It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing – has been sent back to the publisher with the final edits. As of today we’re still working on the book cover and legal issues (after all this is in the memoir/nonfiction genre and legal concerns are paramount). The plan is to have this book released by October of 2011. Let’s hope everything falls into place and we’ll see my new book out this fall. It’s been more than a three-year ride in writing, editing, rewriting, more editing, to finally get to this place. A heavy burden during a time when I had so much work at Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural, with other writing, with travel, other community work, and to spend time with my family. I also had some health issues this past year that I’ve written about—hypertension, diabetes, gallstones, throat infection, emergency laser eye surgery. But today I feel much better—my last visit to the doctor had all my numbers down (blood pressure, blood sugar levels, cholesterol, etc.). I plan to keep it this way. Recently, I took part at the Associated Writing Programs national conference in Washington, DC. I was on a panel called “Memoir and Latinidad.” Blizzards across the Midwest kept all of the panelists away from our panel except Rigoberto Gonzalez and myself. We also had help from Francisco Aragon and the panel turned out to be well attended and lively. Writers and editors from Tia Chucha Press who came to AWP this year had a nice dinner at Busboys & Poets restaurant, bookstore, and performance space. What a great place, which I recommend to anyone who goes to DC. I thank all the TCP family who took part. On Saturday, February 5, I took part in a Floricanto poetry reading in front of the US Capitol building to protest Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, SB 1070. About forty of us read and spoke in a drizzling rain, including Francisco Alarcon, Abel Salas, and Susana Sandoval, among others. I also want to thank my tocayo and longtime friend Luis Cardona for setting up talks at two schools and a community center in the mostly Central American community of Maryland and DC. I’ve always had great support there and these talks keep me connected to a very vibrant and important area. My other visits included community events in the Bay Area community of Richmond, including at the City Council chambers, introduced by the Richmond Mayor, Gayle McLaughlin. This trip was organized by community organizer and teacher Pedro Lespier, who did an amazing job with the schools, community organizations, and city government. Richmond has been known as a violent city, but in recent times has seen violence and crime levels go down. This is good news. Yet, as we know, it doesn’t stop. The people I met and the dialogues I had were significant and instructive. I hope to get back there again soon. I also talked at Martin Elementary School in South San Francisco, where third to fifth graders listened intently and asked great questions. I thank the principal, Rona Jawetz, and teachers and staff who made this happen. I need to mention that this past week I was also a panelist for “Off the Page, Into Reality: A Call To Action” summit, held at Our Lady of Angels Cathedral in downtown LA. Activists in juvenile justice and reentry programs from all over LA County were in attendance, including LA city council members, LA County supervisors, and probation department personnel. The LA County Blueprint for Youth and Young Adult Reentry was introduced and addressed by speakers, panelists, and participants during this important gathering. This blueprint is a major step in addressing some vital issues about what we’re going to do about real juvenile justice, rehabilitation, and keeping our youth out of juvenile lockups and prisons. The first thing is to stop seeing these young people as “problems,” but symptomatic of deeper environmental, family, economic, and political breakdowns. Using our imaginations and great capacities to renew and regenerate, we can make a turn-around on saving our children. c/s
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