The Chicano Presence in Guadalajara

Thousands upon thousands of people have already traversed through the International Book Fair in Guadalajara, Mexico. Students and the public are allowed free entrance in the evening, while most of the day has been for professionals, librarians, book buyers, teachers, etc. Many of the presentations are in the evening, so uniformed (and ununiformed) young people are crowding into the salons and halls. The talk and reading with Mexican poet Jose Emilio Pacheco last night included hundreds of young people in the Juan Rulfo Auditorium. Young people also overflowed the relatively small salon for the "Homenage to Charles Bukowsky," surprising many who were not aware how big the work of Bukowsky was in Mexico. In the morning, Trini and I made the rounds among US librarians who came for a couple of days to order books. They stayed at one hotel not far from ours, and we passed flyers on Tia Chucha Press (with info on Tia Chuchas Centro Cultural on the back), and another flyer with information on most of my books in poetry, fiction, childrens literature, and nonfiction. Our friend Oralia Garza Cortes of Texas was gracious to introduce us to many members of the American Library Assocation as well as the Latino librarians of the "Reforma" group. I took part in my first presentation two nights ago when the University of Guadalajara presented their literary magazine, Luvina, that published many Los Angeles writers in translation. That evening we had a great dinner at Kamilos 333, a restaurant in the outskirts of the city that had a great dish, carne en su jugo, a specialty in Guadalajara. We also had a great lunch with Bobby and Johnny Byrd of Cinco Puntos Press, a mariscos placed called "Los Carnales." Yesterday, I also took part in a panel with Ruben Martinez, Tom Rayner, and J. Michael Walker on nonfiction writing about Los Angeles that had a large audience and good discussion. I was glad that the class nature of LA society was brought up, a subject usually glossed over whenever the citys social and economic make up is brought up. In the evening, I ended up at the first Encuentro Chicano (Chicano Encounter) panel that focused on the visual arts. My co-organizer of the lowrider show here in Guadalajara, Denise Sandoval, showed a slide show of the history of lowriding and the impact of Chicanos as creators of this culture. There was also a slide show of past and present public art and graffiti by Sandra De La Loza, and a slide show on East LAs punk scene in the 1970s by Pilar Thompkins. Tonight I will be on the panel for Encuentro Chicano II, which will emphasize the written word and theater. I have also been doing a number of newspaper and radio interviews, with two more appointments slated for today. There is deep interest, I feel, among some media here in Mexico on the Chicano presence of writers at the book fair--including Marisela Norte, Ruben Martinez, Maria Amparo Escandon, Salvador Plascencia, Michael Jaime Becerra, among others (of course, other Latinos are also represented as well as white writers). Chicanos now have a growing population in Guadalajara due largely to deportations from the US. The lowrider show also evoked a lowrider club from Guadalajara, mostly made up of former LA people, to bring a few of their cars and bikes to the book fair to meet with the owners of the lowriders we brought to the book fair. I also saw my old friend Paul Beatty, one of the few African Americans writers present (this is a glaring problem, I feel). Sixteen years ago, Paul and I were part of a delegation of US writers in the first "Slam Poetry" tour of Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands (we actually did not slam, but that was how it was promoted). It was great to catch up with Paul and share information about our current works. I also had a nice talk with Marisela Norte (we go back more than thirty years when we were part of the LA Latino Writers Association) and with Juan Pacheco, an important Chicano photographer who has done photography workshops with community members at Tia Chuchas Centro Cultural. Juan is also a cousin to Raul Velasco of Ozomotli. I also got to briefly talk to LA writers such as Aimee Bender and Suzanne Lummis. One interesting aspect of the LA Pavilion is a large digital wall with the names of LA-based writers. My name appears next to people like John Fante, Charles Bukowsky, T.C. Boyle, James Ellroy, Raymond Chandler, Ray Bradbury, and others whose works I read growing up into this writers life. c/s


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