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Emma Pérez and her novel, Forgetting the Alamo, Or Blood Memory.

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Kristen Naca and her book of poetry, Bird Eating Bird.

Felicidades to two amazing U.S. Latina writers! Their works have just been nominated for the Lambda Literary Awards, also known as the "Lammys"-- awarded annually by the Lambda Literary Foundation to honor works that celebrate or explore LGBTQ themes. '"This has been a record year for queer books," said the 2009 Lambda Awards Administrator, Richard Labonté, who has been associated with the Lammys since their inception in 1989 as a judge and consultant.  "The number of titles nominated and the number of publishers represented is in both cases about 10 percent higher than last year"' (from the Lambda Literary Foundation page). 

All the more reason to celebrate Chicana historian, theorist and fiction writer, Emma Pérez' novel, Forgetting the Alamo Or Blood Memory.  Pérez takes readers to nineteenth-century Texas where Micaela Campos is witness to the 1836 battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto.  This is a multi-layered work that reflects our own struggles today with immigration, revisionist history, race, class, and issues of sexuality. This is Pérez's second novel.  In 1996, she published her first novel, Gulf Dreams (a new 2009 edition is available). Gulf Dreams is a fascinating psychoanalytic coming of age story--also set in Texas.  Orale Emma!

Kristen Naca's debut work of poetry Bird Eating Bird was the winner of the National Poetry Series mtvU Prize (selected by Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Yusef Komunyakaa). Her poetry is a tight knitting of sound and rich poignant moments of memory, global in its reach: The Philippines, Mexico, Pittsburgh, Nebraska, and the southwest are reflected. Naca follows other National Poetry Series winners:  Dionisio Martinez, Cole Swensen, Mark Levine, Billy Collins.  Naca deserves to be among them and there will be more from Naca!  Orale Naca!

Not only are these women amazing writers and poets.  They are also scholars.  Both hold doctorates.  Dr. Pérez received her PhD in History from UCLA.  Dr. Naca received her PhD in English from The University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  Currently, Naca is a visiting instructor and a CFD Fellow at Macalester college in Minnesota.  Dr. Pérez is Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder.  

Before you leave this site, check out Naca's poem, "House" online from Octopus Magazine!  Enjoy!  

A Rose in Winter---

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My world is now one of snow and cold but in this world--as I was shoveling snow in our front yard a few days ago, I found a soft pastel blush catching my attention.  No not a fresh and lovely rose bloom--but color nonetheless.  It had stamina.  Yes, the one you see here!  I'm giving it credit for facing the major snowstorm, for holding on during the blizzard, for keeping to its pink hued petals at least as much as possible.  The artist Henri Matisse wrote, "There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted."  Agreed.  Perhaps in considering photography, the truly creative photographer is one who has forgotten other digital photo rose prints. And maybe there have been many photos of roses in snow, but since I'm a Los Angeleno, a Californiana--not endemic to this geographic location--a rose bloom in winter (even a faint one) is all new to me.  


I grew up in sun and warmth all year--with a mother who loved roses, who planted all kinds in our front and backyard.  She chose her roses not only by the color but by the name.  She loved roses whose names were in Spanish ('Granada') or were named after American musicals ('Singing in the Rain'), names that described emotion ('Passion') or were named after famous opera singers like 'Maria Callas.' She was also political in her choices, giving the rose 'John F. Kennedy' a special place in the rose bed.  I would assist her when she would take her blooms every May to the Rose Pageant at Rose Hills Cemetery in Whittier, which at the time I did not know was and still is the largest cemetery in the United States.  Because it is so large, there are many events held there which included this festival of roses. She would win prizes for her roses and would share her ideas regarding pruning and planting.  


This rose is called 'Nearly Wild' and is known for surviving harsh winters and it's also known to be immune to various rose diseases. Back in August, when this rose bush was filled with a myriad of blooms, I took the time one very hot afternoon to sit and prune those blossoms that had faded or were looking just like this one in the picture.  Now in this cold and snowy moment, there is no way I am going to mess with these petals. I think of all the "perfect" blossoms I saw at Rose Hills every year, but this one--this exact one of which I keep photographing--well, I consider it like no other: perfect in strength and durability, beautiful, magical, and powerful. I think of the poet H.D. (1886-1961) and her poem Sea Rose:

Rose, harsh rose
marred and with stint of petals,
meagre flower, thin,
sparse of leaf,

more precious
than a wet rose
single on a stem--
you are caught in the drift . . .