A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.

Thursday, January 29, 2009




I am enrolled in Ping Li's Adult Literacy class at Queens College this semester and we have hit the ground running in terms of talking about Adult Literacy Instruction. Through reading Hinchliffe's article, "Examining the Context: New Voices Reflect on Information Literacy" in Reference User Service's, I came across an even more important report: Presidential Committee on Information Literacy. This report was released on January 10, 1989, so to say it is outdated is putting it mildly. However, the report makes some amazing points and led me to a fuller understanding of what is mean by Adult Literacy Instruction.
To start, a person would need to define what it means to be information literate. The report says that to be information literate, "a person must be able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information" (1989, par. 3) However succinct this definition proves, it might be even more instructive if we look at the connotations of what it means to be information literate. The underscoring idea concerning information literacy has to be that the person that is information literate is a lifelong learner, or a person who is eminently interested in learning how it is they learn and replicating the results every time there is something they don't know.
It is obvious that learning how you learn is going to be an effective mental talisman against people who are trying to take advantage of you, however, as the report states the people who most need to be information literate are not and therein lies the crux of the problem. "Minority and at-risk students, illiterate adults, people with English as a second language, and economically disadvantaged people are among those most likely to lack access to the information that can improve their situation" (1989, par. 10)
Most troubling, though, I would have to say is the complete obfuscation of the importance that libraries play in the lives of people. Time after time, the importance of libraries is left out of reports and the impact that libraries have in people's lives is ignored. This is a shame because libraries in conjunction with schools are the first places that literacy skills are first internalized and digested. To assume that it is merely schools that are instructing our children is not only myopic but petty; the reality is that young people are learning just as much from their experiences in libraries as their experiences in normative schools.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Callahan, L. (Sep., 2001). Metalinguistic references in a Spanish/English corpus. Hispania, 84.3, Retrieved January, 22, 2009, from http://www.jstor/stable/3657776

Colon, D. (Winter, 2001). Other latino poetic method. Cultural Critique, 47, Retrieved January, 22, 2009, from http://www.jstor/stable/1354586.

Damon, M. (Autumn 1998). Avant-Garde or borderguard: (Latino) identity in poetry. American Literary History, 10.3, Retrieved 1/8/09, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/490107.

de la Campa, R. (Autumn, 2001). Latin, latino, american: Split states and global imaginaries. Comparative Literature, 53.4, Retrieved January, 22, 2009, from http://www.jstor/stable/3593525

Flores, J., & Yudice, G. (1990). Living borders/buscando america: Languages of latino self-formation. Social Text, 24, Retrieved January 22, 2009, from http://www.jstor/stable/827827.

Mendieta-Lombardo, E., & Cintron, Z. (September, 1995). Marked and unmarked choices of code switching in bilingual poetry. Hispania, 78.3, Retrieved January 22, 2009, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/345306.

Rodriguez y Gibson, E. (Spring 2008). Tat your black holes into paradise: Lorna Dee Cervantes and a poetics of loss. MELUS, 33.1, Retrieved 1/8/09, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/435976.

Torres, L. (Spring 2007). In the contact zone: Code-switching strategies by Latino/a writers. MELUS, 32.1, Retrieved 1/8/09, from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/printdoc.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort.


It is incumbent upon libraries, both academic and public, to build, possess, and cultivate their collections of Latino Poetry for a variety of reasons.

For starters, Latinos are poised to become the largest minority in the U.S.; in fact, "the U.S. Census Bureau claims that by the year 2050, a full quarter of the U.S. population will be of Latino origin; that is, nearly 100 million people will be able to trace their ancestry to the Spanish-speaking, Latin American, and Caribbean worlds" (Suarez-Orozco & Paez, 2002, pg. 2). It might become increasingly difficult for Libraries to say there is little interest in Latino Poetry when one in four Americans is Latino themselves.

Latino Poetry extensively uses code switching between Spanish and English to convey meaning, significance, and political affinities. There are myriad reasons why Latino Poets would choose to include Spanish in their English poems, and vice versa; however, this convention is mostly utilized by Latino Poets to emphasize the duality of their Latino identity. Latinos are neither here nor there; they are an ethnic label that is in the process of defining itself and bridging binary racial boundaries imposed by the U.S. culture. Because the parameters of what a Latino actually is are constantly changing, Latino Poetry is constantly evolving to accommodate its taxonomists.

Additionally, Latinos retain their use of Spanish more than any other ethnic group. This means that as a whole, Latinos deploy Spanish more than other ethnic groups. And because Latino Poetry has high incidences of Spanish intermingled with the English text, the language serves not just as "literature" but as a conduit and enhancer of Latino culture. For example, "Latino families are distinct in their extensive use of Spanish at home. Recent data show that in their homes, about 83 percent of immigrant Latino youth use their native language primarily or exclusively" (Suarez-Orozco & Paez, 2002, pg. 8). More importantly, "Even third generation bilingualism is relatively higher among Latinos than among other ethnic groups" (Suarez-Orozco & Paez, 2002, pg. 8).

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Latinos are poised to become the largest minority group in the United States, if they are not already. Additionally, by 2050 they might comprise the majority of people in the U.S.

Latino birth rates and our mobility (i.e. traveling to where there is work regardless of national and regional borders) have given us an edge as the birth rates of Anglos and Blacks have decreased. Latinos constitute an ethnic group whose parameters are difficult to define. The actual definition from the 2000 Census is even more abstract,

"Mexican, Mexican Am., Chicano," "Puerto Rican", or "Cuban"-as well as those who indicate that they are "other Spanish/Hispanic/Latino." Persons who indicated that they are "other Spanish/Hispanic/Latino" include those whose origins are from Spain, the Spanish-speaking countries of Central or South America, the Dominican Republic or people identifying themselves generally as Spanish, Spanish-American, Hispanic, Hispano, Latino, and so on.

An important caveat is that people who define their "origin" as Latino can actually be of any race, which is pretty singular if you think about it. I mean, how many Italians do you know that would classify themselves as Black? Or, how many Irish do you know that would classify themselves as Asian? And yet Black and Asian are two races that share a rung of the Latino chromosome. For example, you can be Black and Honduran and yet have a very different experience than a Dominican mulatto.

Believe it or not, these two subsections of the larger ethnic group, Latino, would have very different ways of talking Spanish, and their phrases, vocabularies, and symbols for things would be very different(i.e. the word for kite in the Mexican dialect of Spanish versus in the Argentine dialect of Spanish, etc.). In addition, users educational attainment, sophistication, and manipulation with Spanish and English might be galaxies apart.

To bumblefuck (academic term) the matter a little more, an Anglo-American or token white guy would look at both and conclude that they are both African-American. It is with that same confidence that a token white mammal would look at me and say, Mexican or Yemeni or Pakistani, when I am a first generation American whose parents are from Argentina. Latinos are different because, the variances found within the Latino group are held together by the Spanish language.

Language is aorta of poetry; Poetry is a vital conduit of culture; it is the lightning rod for Poesis, or the study of culture and language. Poesis is also concerned with the interplay of artistic mores.

While readership of Poetry has certainly dwindled, it has followed similar attrition rates than Literacy in general (as Dana Goia has been descrying since 2004). Less and less people are reading poetry is definitely true, but less and less people are picking up books is true as well.

In addition, poetry's biggest readers (read: followers) are poets or student of poetry themselves. A collection for any library make sense in light of these arguments, but what practical value is there for a library to carry the Poesis of the dominant minority group?

Friday, January 16, 2009



Arteaga, A. (Ed.). (1994). An other tongue: Nation and ethnicity in the linguistic borderlands. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Carlson, L. M. (Ed.). (1994). Cool salsa: Bilingual poems on growing up latino in the united states. New York: Fawcett Books.

Cervantes, L. D. (1991). From the cables of genocide : poems on love and hunger. Houston, TX: Arte Publico Press.

Ch'ien, E. N. M. (2004). Weird English. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Corpi, L. (Ed.). (1997). Máscaras. Berkeley, CA: Third Woman Press.

Cruz, V. H. (2006). The mountain in the sea : Poems. Minneapolis, MN: Coffee House Press.

Cutter, M. J. (2005). Lost and found in translation : Contemporary ethnic American writing and the politics of language diversity. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.

Davis, M. (2000). Magical Urbanism: Latinos reinvent the U.S. city. New York: Verso.

Espada, M. (1993). City of coughing and dead radiators. New York: W.W. Norton and Co.

Espada, M. (1996). Imagine the angels of bread. New York: W.W. Norton and Co.

Espada, M. (2000). A Mayan astronomer in hell's kitchen. New York: W.W. Norton and Co.

Espada, M. (1990). Rebellion is the circle of a lover's hand: Rebelion es el giro de manos del amante. Willamantic, CT:
Curbstone Press.

Fabre, G. (Ed.). European perspectives on Hispanic literature of the United States. Houston, TX: Arte Public Press.

Garcia, D. (2000). When living was a labor camp. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press.

Gonzalez, J. (2000). Harvest of empire: A history of Latinos in America. New York: Penguin.

Gonzalez, R. (Ed.). (1992). After Aztlan: Latino poets of the nineties. Boston, MA: David R. Godine.

Gracia, J. J. E., & De Greiff, P. (Eds.). (2000). Hispanics/Latinos in the United States: Ethnicity, race, and rights. New York: Routledge.

Guevara, M. K. (1994). Postmortem. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press.

Huerta, J. O. (2007). Some clarifications y otros poemas. Houston, TX: Arte Publico Press.

Javier, P. (2005) 60 lv bo(e)mbs. New York: O Books.

Lima, F. (1997). Inventory: New and selected poems. West Stockbridge, MA: Hard Press, Inc.

Lima, F. (1971). Underground with the oriole. New York: Dutton.

Pau-Llosa, R. (1993). Cuba. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Mellon University Press.

Mackey, N. (1993). Discrepant engagement : Dissonance, cross-culturality, and experimental writing. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Mackey, N. (2005). Paracritical Hinge : Essays, talks, notes, interviews. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.

Mora, P. (1995). Agua Santa = Holy Water. Boston: Beacon Press.

Myers, K. (2005). Racetalk : Racism hiding in plain sight. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Oboler, S. (1995). Ethnic labels, Latino lives : Identity and the politics of (re)presentation in the United States. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Ong, W. J.(1982). Orality and literacy : The technologizing of the word. New York: Routledge.

Romero, F. (2008). Hyperborder : the contemporary U.S.-Mexico border and its future. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

Saldívar, J. (1997). Border matters : Remapping American cultural studies. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Soto, G. (1995). Gary soto: New and selected poems. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books.

Suarez-Orosco, M. M., & Paez, M. M. (Eds.). (2002). Latinos: Remaking america. Berkeley, CA.: University of California Press.

Torres, E. (2001). The all-union day of the shock worker. New York: Roof Books.

Zamora, B. (1994). Releasing serpents. Tempe, AZ: Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingue.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Devoid of purpose, the porpoise will trace the shoals.
Snipers are always thinking about supple temples.
Plumbers understand: natural gas mains quicken suicide allure.
And steaks: steaks don't understand nothing but blanket sauce.
It says the photons create energy as they de-adhere, enough energy.
That you can X-Ray your finger in the nimbus of the unspooling.
That Byzantine charges don't alarm applicants with fetid credit.
They just slap them on like some caste patina, like lotto splooge.
You still haven't inquired as to the why and the what of this seedling.
This prerogative of unearned providence, this trophy-coated plaque.
It reads, silent lies sustain the surely seasoned despite surmise.
Maybe something I might make in my mind, a something short of nuance.
Micron photography composes shrunk porters to ravage the rationale.
And display the flags of the nameless countries under the sea.

Friday, January 9, 2009


We were introduced by Horacio and Estela. But we were called Horacio and Estela as well, so it was kind of destined from the start. We were introduced to each other by each other. Your father, Horacio, worked at a shoe store across the street from Parque Rivadavia and had grown up with Horacio; that is, they both went to Mariano Moreno Normal School. Then Horacio got a job at Disqueria Broadway and brought over his girlfriend, Estela.

La Disqueria Broadway had a couple of stores in the city. I started working in one by la calle Florida and increased sales until they made me manager. This was great for two reasons: I lived in a small depto on Florida and the success gave me the ovarios that I would need to scrape out a living on my own. And once that happened, they wanted to see what I could do; So, they moved me to their flagship on Congreso to try me out. To see if my sales aura was a fluke or a confluence of skills and sexuality that they could use and exploit. Imagine me, nearly arrived from Tucuman, recently seperated from my first husband and my daughter, your older sister. Let's just say, I had recently turned on survival mode in my heart because there were bigger things on my mind.

So then one night, Horacio (not your father Horacio) and Estela (not me, the narrator) invite me to go bowling in Flores after work and I go, completely unaware that they have invited your father to go bowling in Flores as well. You really only have them to thank for being born. Without, Horacio and Estela there is no Horacio and Estela, and you, you are really an asterisk in dank, white heather. I can not remember the night I met your father because it was like any other night where I hung out with people from work so that I wouldn't have to go home and stare at my Hydrangea and my toca disco and listen to Mercedes Sosa until I fell asleep. It's not that my place was dumpy, either; I was making nice money helping Broadway sell national favorites like Ortega's "La Felicidad" alongside los Rollings or Creedence. It was the calm before los milicos took over en serio.

I do remember however coming home with all of them after bowling and letting them in on my secret. You see my depto was above Harrod's, the old department store on Florida. By the time I occupied that depto, Harrod's had already lost it's former glory. The building was built around 1913 so by the time I lived there there had been many additions made and the deptos above the store had been cut up and split up to make more money for the landlords. One day, shortly after moving in, I lost an earring that had rolled out of my hand and come to rest behind the refrigerator. So, I decided to move it. It too me a good half an hour, but I finally scooted the refrigerator to the point that I could get behind the machine. To my amazement, behind the refrigerator, I found an air duct. Well, at first, I didn't know it was an air duct. But after I unscrewed the grill of metal slats on the face of this brazen metal square behind my refrigerator, I was looking down one tube of the system that pipped air through the Harrod's.

I need to know if I had actually found a portal, an oversight, into the Harrod's below, so I crawled into the tube and slithered to the first grill of slats I found and opened up the slats. A smell of bazaars and sinister coffee came through and I could see the counters, the shelves, and beyond, the staircase and registers. The store was dark but you could make out contours and your imagination did the rest. The night that I met your father I invited Horacio and Estela and your father to my depto and after I felt I could keep them in my confidences I showed them the air duct and we fished for some cheeese. That is, I figured out that if you used a long enough piece of rope you could actually fish items out of the Harrods, up into the duct, and back into my depto and on the table. To that end, that night, we fashioned all types of lures and managed to troll back a bottle of wine, two little bricks of cheese and a jar of pickled eggplant.

We have been married now for a little more than thirty years. What you remember most are those hard moments when you both were scared, and the minutes of great happiness and lust that would ascend like strange fruit from an empty department store.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


For a stint, I was a letter writer in Buenos Aires. I worked out of the Retiro station which was close to Villa 31, a slum known for its Naipes sharks. So then, I got work writing letters for villeros and for the newly arrived from the provinces. I thought that it would be the best way to lay low, now that the generals had descended from their promontories, drunk and with lust, and were disappearing students, commies, and sindicalistas.

All in all, it was pleasant and entertaining, especially because I could have written down anything I wanted; but, taking advantage of the destitute and illiterate is not high on my list of wishes. So, I did my job with a diligence and care that made it seem as if I was writing contracts or wills. No, maybe that's too much. I did my job with the dedication that one person in trouble would extend to another person in trouble. I helped out the helpless, and for a nominal fee that gave me enough money to eat.

Now, writing letters is not simply transcription. You see with people that aren't accustomed to reading, you have to not only capture the vital information, but you have to compose it in a way that is intelligible, that is that sounds like the way people speak in books. People that read are familiar with the phrases and stems that people use in their everyday speech. But with people that don't read, or can't, it is incumbent on the letter writer to supply those phrases. So it was with me that when I transcribed a letter, I was actually composing it, populating it, with the phrases, nuances, and adages that were in common use. I sometimes thought whether there was a letter reader at the terminus of the letter I was writing that would also ad lib what I had actually written.

Because then, really, it would be like the letter reader and the letter writer having a conversation over the noise of the content of the letter. The process enthralled me, and I got to deal with all types of people, and listen to their stories and try to re-write them in my vein. On a good day, I would write about twelve letters and on a bad day I barely scribbled three. But for the most part it was good work and more importantly, I was helping people out and connecting with them in weird and fantastic ways. And in many ways, I became a fixture in that square just like the commuters and the ambulatory salesmen. I got to know Retiro like my own nose; it was something I studied unconsciously. Before long, people were asking me scheduling questions and I became like one more of Retiro's grimy apostles.

Now, I usually didn't get too many requests to read an actual letter. People living in the city usually had family or neighbors that could read letters to them. But one day, a tall, dark man approached me and asked if I could read the letter he was carrying. He seemed apprehensive, at first, about me getting to jump into his family affairs, but his desire to know seemed more in control. What did he want to know, you ask? He wanted to know whether the reader in his city had read the letter faithfully; he wanted a second opinion on the reader he had payed to read the letter aloud to him. So, I told him what my price was and got straight to work. I usually sat on a sturdy, knee-high stool and carried one with me for my customers to sit on while I did my scribe-ing. Pedro, or Don Pedro I soon found out, was his name and it seemed like he had ridden the train straight for two days; there were rungs under his eyes and his coat smelled of tobacco smoke and kerosene.


Te escrivimos de Buenos Aires para decirte que estamos bien. Hemos encontrado un depto en Once. Yo trabajo en la disqueria Broadway pero por Congreso. Elba trabaja en un kiosko por la Florida y esta de novio con un chico de Flores. Te extranamos muchisimo papa, pero queremos hacer la vida en Buenos Aires y no queremos volver a San Miguel de Tucuman. Esperemos que no entiendas, pero nos parece que es para el bien de todos. Vamos a tratar de mandar dinero lo mas antes posible.


We are writing to you from Buenos Aires to tell you that we are well. We have found an apartment in Once. I work at the record shop called Broadway that is on Congreso. Elba works at a bodega on Florida and she is dating a boy from Flores. We miss you dearly Dad, but Elba and I want to build a life in Buenos Aires and we don't want to return to San Miguel de Tucuman. We understand you won't understand, but it seems like to us that this will be for the good of everyone. We are going to try to send money as soon as we have some money to spare.

Pedro looked me in the eye and asked me what a disqueria was; I told him it was simply a record shop, where one buys records. I said records, you know, and made a circle with my hands as if I were fashioning a record. He looked at me blankly before nodding his head intently once or twice and following it up with five or six tiny little nods. But we both knew something at that minute. If Elba and her sister were both in Buenos Aires and they were sisters and Elba had a boyfriend, then that meant that the author of the letter also must have had a boyfriend.

But she very carefully obfuscated that detail and both of us read between the lines. The other thing we realized was that the Father's visit was a last ditch effort to retain control over his little two girls. You could tell that he had been through a lot, even before he decided to board a train two thousand miles away and not get off until it deposited him in front of their door. Pedro's high cheekbones sunk independently of his pursed lips, and he slumped into a posture of anonymous shame. Even though it had been hours since he had gotten off the train from Tucuman, under these circumstances, Pedro looked just like one of the millions of chewed up and hardened denizens of Buenos Aires.

I pointed the way to Congreso and even though he could have taken the subway, Pedro left on foot as a sort of penance, as if he were about to trample his sins.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Take the lowest castes of backbreakees.
You know, the mega-indigent on Haitian crutches
those reposed in a Nicaraguan wheelchair
or planchados in an Isthmus Guerney.
Even the lowest castes have staff.
Like the illegals on twelve speeds
kamikazi-ing soggy take-out or those
vulture-ing the Home Depot for a day's.
Through remittals, they pay their staff.
Those who make a robust glut of sewage.
A tin mansion, neighborhood wash closet
municipal running water only once a day.
Are serviced by the staff of the staff.
And the staff, they've power of singular splinters.
The thrust of their poverty, our pinche unhaving
is but episodic and transient, una edad de hielo.
But what of the bosses and the lunch whistles?
Are they not run just to be run, like guinea pigs.
Using this algorithm, then, who gets out alive?
Does all staff have staff, or is there a caste
of rabid supervisors with maroon vests but no
visible nametag, no identifiable ID lanyard.
Who does Yahweh call when she is poisoned with sushi?
Does she mask her voice so she sounds sick?
Or does she have the sick days to spare?