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, February 26, 2009


How will your present position and the conferment of your MLS give you a unique perspective on the profession?

Currently, I am a college assistant in the Gerald S. Lieblich Resource Learning Center and Bronx Community College Library. I assist students with their research queries and help familiarize them with word processing programs like Microsoft Word; in addition, I illustrate the importance of bibliographic applications like RefWorks, and suggest helpful websites like http://citationmachine.net through synchronous, one-on-one facilitation. The position also involves a nominal amount of hours helming the reference desk inside the library, and learning cataloging techniques and best practices through an informal apprenticeship with BCC's Cataloger. Even though I am contracted to work 20 hours or less a week, the librarians, technical and support staff have made me feel like an integral part of the scholarship that takes place at Bronx Community College, and I am most grateful.

As a library professional, I hope to gear my efforts in librarianship towards increasing Information Literacy for minority students in academic settings. My interest in this objective comes straight from my experiences as a high school teacher in the Bronx, and as a minority graduate student in the C.U.N.Y. system (Lehman and Queens Colleges). More importantly, I see a dire need for information specialists in the aforementioned areas because of the inconsistencies of our secondary public school system. I can tell you from first hand experiences that minority students at inner-city schools are not receiving the core information competencies promised to them by the system; in other words, just because they have Facebook and Myspace accounts or their schools have a smart board does not mean they are Information Literate or on their way to becoming Information Literate. They are not only being short-changed, they are dropping out at alarming rates and falling through the cracks more often than not.

When people say Academic Libraries they usually mean state-of-the-art Serapeums of Technology filled to the brim with volumes of printed materials. But, what about the students that attend institutes of higher learning that don't necessarily have the means to design and construct modern-day Serapeums of Technology? Should students that can't afford to attend certain institutes be left behind or occupy an inferior status in our society? As a country, shouldn't we focus more on students that have been short-changed by the educational system? Aren't minority students in inner-city schools more deserving of a parachute that ensures they are Information Literate? More importantly, how is our country ensuring that students from poorly-run high schools will be able to compete with their counterparts in India, Russia, and China? As a country, we seem to forget our most valuable resource is the manpower and brainpower created by dynamic teachers utilizing engaging curriculum.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009



My project centers around the MFA/Creative Writing programs at four senior C.U.N.Y. schools: Brooklyn, City, Hunter, and Queens College.

In 2007, there were 320 Hispanic graduate students enrolled at Brooklyn College, 675 Hispanic graduate students enrolled at City College, 742 Hispanic graduate students enrolled at Hunter, and 493 Hispanic graduate student enrolled at Queens College.

In 2006, there were 332 Hispanic graduate students enrolled at Brooklyn College, 641 Hispanic graduate students enrolled at City College, 754 Hispanic graduate students enrolled at Hunter, and 506 Hispanic graduate student enrolled at Queens College.

In 2005, there were 372 Hispanic graduate students enrolled at Brooklyn College, 662 Hispanic graduate students enrolled at City College, 771 Hispanic graduate students enrolled at Hunter, and 504 Hispanic graduate student enrolled at Queens College.

I am especially disturbed by the decreasing numbers of Hispanic C.U.N.Y. graduate students. From 2005 to 2007, there were 52 less Hispanic C.U.N.Y. graduate students at Brooklyn College; from 2005 to 2007, there were 29 less Hispanic C.U.N.Y. graduate students at Hunter; from 2005 to 2007 there 11 less Hispanic C.U.N.Y. graduate students at Queens College. However, there was a 13 Hispanic graduate student increase at City College, but this was the exception and not the rule.

The rule is that Hispanics are attending C.U.N.Y. Master's programs to a lesser extent. The biggest drop was at Brooklyn and the lowest drop was at Queens, but the fact that only one institution (City College) had an increase in Hispanic Master's students is especially troubling.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


This flyer was given to me by construction workers and represents some egregious work practices by the Morris Heights Health Center and the Glenman Construction Corporation. If you have a second, would you please call the number on the flyer and tell them how you feel about the Morris Heights Health Center employing construction workers but not wanting to pay them health insurance.


Thursday, February 19, 2009


So I am thinking about applying to a job in the Foreign Service for an Information Resource Officer position in the State Department. I would like to share with my readers my personal essay portion and a set of answers to each of the four questions. The first response is what I would really like to say, the second response represents what I will actually write and send with my application. I am open to suggestions so please comment on any of these responses and let me know which one you think is the most appropriate.

Question #1:

1. Leadership and Teamwork Abilities: Describe examples of your ability to lead a team in the accomplishment of a goal, and to participate as a team member working toward a common goal.

What I would like to write:

Dear Sirs, have you ever had the fortune of teaching gangbangers? Have you ever had to earn your audience, or "play" along with yawpers in the hopes they might lend ear? Unless you have, I don't suggest you ask for the bathroom pass to my soul. I know I can lead a team because for three years I taught five classes a day in the Bronx with little to no logistical support. It was work enough just to get my charges to think that they were part of a team; getting them to act like a team, though, was what gave me the most satisfaction. However, this took huge investments of time and conditioning. I understand the importance of rapport because for three years I was in an environment where I had to earn every scrap of trust. Conversely, I know how to function as a team member because teaching in a public school is a collaborative effort, fraught with exercises in the dissolution of the self. Indeed, when you form part of a department, you are always doing what's best for the school and then the department, and only then are your best interests supposed to enter the equation.

What I will probably send with my application:

The bulk of my praxis as a leader comes from my ability to connect with the students that I have taught over the years in New York City. Those same experiences, though, are what have also forged my character and temperament as a dedicated member of very large and systematic educational "teams". As an adjunct with the English department of Kingsborough Community College/ C.U.N.Y. from 2003 to 2004, I taught several sections of Freshman Comp. More importantly, I was doing my part so that C.U.N.Y. could boast to servicing 480,000 students at 23 campuses. In 2004, I was accepted into the NYC Teaching Fellows and found employment at an impact school in the Bronx. Every day that I reported to work and taught five classes, I was forming part of the concerted effort of 80,000 educators to teach the million plus children in New York City. I have engaged and educated New Yorkers from all walks of life. And, what I have learned is that when you are dealing with people, you should always strive to deal with the person. In other words, you can only reach people by entertaining the individuals that comprise the group, people.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


So if I had to define my interests so far, I would report that I am going to center on academic libraries in community colleges and their efforts to instruct students towards greater rates of computer literacy. In other words, in what ways are community colleges using their instruction on computer literacy to endorse the ubiquitous proliferation of computers and technology in the typical student's life.

I have to gather several resources and eventually synthesize and analyze them, but I can tell you right off the bat that the Primary Source bunch of the lot that I have already created is this article from the 48th volume of the number 4 issue of the Peabody Journal of Education (pages 294-299). This article written by J.R. Hill is titled, "The Computer: A Versatile Tool for the Community College," and was written in, get this, July of 1971. Therefore it is written three years after Kubrick's 2001 (1968) which seems like to me was the public's first experience with the idea that computers could run everything, and the subsequent dystopia that computers could enslave and create catastrophe for the human species.

What does J.R. Hill recommend, you ask? I mean because his recommendations in 1971 sound like predictions to us in 2009. Hill recommends many things but he starts his exposition with the idea that, "the community college has a responsibility to promote computer literacy, i.e. to provide all students with a general understanding of computers and the ways they are used" (1971, par.2). In addition, Hill believes that there are really "two diverse uses in the computer as instructional environment...(1)as a subject of instruction;(2)as a tool for instruction" (1971, par. 4) Moreover, the curriculum of Hill's two educational directives would emphasize "(1)the basic concepts of a computer, its development and use, (2)the uses, and consequent effect on the student, in his discipline or field of interest, (3)the social impact of advances in computer technology" (1971,par. 8).

So, why am I telling you all this you must inevitably ask. Well, for starters, any time you are afforded the gift of hindsight and a primary source from an authoritative place rears it's anachronistic head, then you almost have a duty to inspect the author's predictions and fill in the context of the years with the core theoretical curriculum your institute is offering you (in the form of a grad program, etc.). And what Hill is telling us is that we were going to get over the technological awe associated with computers pretty quickly. In fact, the personal computer would only really become popular and accessible in 1981 IBM's 5150 and then in 1984 with Apple's Macintosh. Before that, computers were gigantic calculator lockers cooled by tons of ice with distorted, crazy acronyms like ENIAC for a name.

Another great article about teaching to increase information literacy, especially as it relates to increasing database usage is Jeff Wahl's article, "Front Range Community College: Increasing Student Database Use Through Library Instruction" which appeared in the 2007 issue of Colorado Libraries (v.33, No. 3). In this article, Wahl talks about how he "increased by 372% in one year at a small community college" (2007) the use of electronic databases. And, Wahl did by creating a strategy of instruction and services that would be offered by Wahl. Wahl was able to offer "75 presentations to a total of 1,519 students" (2007, pg. 14) and offers some very good, useful tips on bibliographic instruction. One of those tips are to "present for a few minutes and then stop to allow students to run their own searches fora few minutes" (2007, pg.15). Another great tip deals with presenting less information and databases at the same time, "the lesson would be more effective if the search examples I demonstrated were related to actual topics that students would be required to research for classes" (2007, pg. 15).

The last article I peeped so far deals with how Edward Erazo brought the teaching of information literacy skills to students in Florida's Community Colleges. The title of the article is "Using Technology to Promote Information Literacy in Florida's Community Colleges" and was written for the Fall 2003 of Florida Libraries. The article appeared in the 46th volume of the 2nd issue; Erazo is an academic librarian at Broward Community College. Erazo is very erudite about new technologies being used and established in Florida Community Colleges. By far, the most effective way to "promote information literacy" would be with "web sites"(2003, par.3). Erazo also found power point presentations useful and talked in great detail about online tutorials;but, the topic that grabbed my attention and seemed most to interest Erazo was virtual reference and streaming video. Erazo makes a strong argument that at least community college libraries should have streaming video and that "A ten minutes video orientation at Seminole Community College covers much of the information that would be addressed in an in-person orientation in a library or learning resource center" (2003, par. 15).

Thursday, February 12, 2009


According to CUNY's Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, in the Fall of 2007 there were 4,021 Hispanic Graduate students enrolled at a CUNY senior college; there were, however, a total of 29, 445 Graduate students matriculated at a CUNY senior college in 2007. ("Graduate Enrollment," 2007)

Hunter had the highest number of Hispanic Grad students, 742, and Brooklyn had the lowest number of Hispanic Grad students, 320. Likewise, in 2007, there were 675 Grad students enrolled at City College and 493 enrolled as Grad students at Queens. At all schools, there were substantially more women enrolled than men, and at Brooklyn there were more than three times more Hispanic women enrolled than Hispanic Grad students; at Hunter, there were almost four times as many Hispanic Grad women (581) than men (161). ("Graduate Enrollment," 2007)

The numbers of Grad students at CUNY, though, has remained pretty constant. For example, in 2005 there were 20,453 total Grad students at CUNY; in 2006 there were 20, 147 total Grad students ("Total Enrollment," 2006). However, in 2007, the total number of Grad students was 29, 445, in part because of a substantial increase in the number of CUNY Grad students enrolled at the Graduate Center, 4, 543. In 2006, there had only been 177 CUNY Grad students enrolled at the Graduate Center. ("Total Enrollment," 2006)

Indeed, when one looks at the data for something like "Summary of Degrees Granted by Race/Ethnicity and Gender" (2006). From 2006-2007, there were 7, 574 Grad degrees granted by CUNY; of those, 10.4% were granted to Hispanics. From 2005 to 2006, there were 7, 202 Graduate degrees granted by CUNY; of those, 10.7% were granted to Hispanics. Overall, Hispanics were granted 19.1% percent of the degrees granted, which include Certificate, Associate, Baccalaureate, Master's, Advanced Certificate, JD, Master of Philosophy, and Doctoral degrees. ("Summary of Degrees," 2007)

It gets very interesting if you look at the Master's of Fine Arts degrees that are given out by the respective programs. In 2004-2005, of 140 total MFA granted by CUNY, 71 were granted by Brooklyn, 28 by City, 28 by Hunter, and 8 granted by Queens. In 2005-2006, there were 184 total MFA's granted by CUNY; 72 were granted by Brooklyn College, 43 were granted by City College, 62 were granted by Hunter, and 4 were granted by Queens.


Eric Estrada brought to you by
the Guild of Chicano Cock Jockeys.

The Association of Mexican Anesthesiologists
proudly presents, Ricardo Montalban.

Ricky Martin brought to you by
the Boriquen Frosting Maneuver.

Alberto Gonzalez, proud sponsor
of the W. School for Integrated
Memory Dislocation; Don Domingo

brought to you by the Bob Barker
Lycee of Cathode Ray Game Shows.

In appreciation of sublime cargo
capacity and stables of torque

Trockas would like to thank
La Virgen Ford; Chevere, brought
to you by the Caracas chapter

of the OPEC Break Dance Crew.
American Betraitor, LLC. proudly sponsors
the makers of salsa, Taco Bell,
and microwave empanadas.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


1.) Do I include poetry books by Latino Poets in the References list? Do I only include them if they are mentioned in the exposition, i.e. the body of the meat of the paper?

2.) Furthermore, only include references in your References page that are mentioned in the body of the meat of the paper? You wouldn’t just list them to say that you had consulted them/looked into them, etc.?

3.) How do I go about analyzing the CUNY+catalog. I mean I would first do a subject search on the phrase, Latino Poetry,etc. Then I would note how many records are available in a particular catalog or CUNY-wide? Next, I manipulate the phrases and see if there are related words, keywords that might be used,etc.

4.) Would my research paper be considered more of a content analysis (the CUNY+ catalog) or a case study (are there materials enough for MFA students)?

5.) How in depth should I describe the essential parts of my argument, i.e. what is a Latino? What is a Latino Poet? What is the history of Brooklyn, Queens, or City MFA program?, etc.

6.) Where might problems with IRB arise? Will I need an exempted designation from them when the time comes because I am going to speak with CUNY administrators and librarians (well, those that will speak to me at least). Are there any pitfalls that you see with this project, and how do I avoid them?,etc.


Monday, February 9, 2009


Ashcroft, B., Griffiths, G., & Tiffin, H. (1989). The empire writes back: Theory and practice in post-colonial literatures. New York: Routledge.

Castillo, D. (2005). Redreaming America: Toward a bilingual American culture. Albany, NY.: State University of New York Press.

Davila, A. (2001). Latinos, Inc.: The marketing and making of a people. Berkley, CA.: University of California Press.

Duran, R., Cofer, J., & Firmat, G. (1987). Triple crown: Chicano, Puerto Rican, and Cuban-American poetry. Tempe, AZ.: Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingue.

Gruesz, K. (2002). Ambassadors of culture: The transamerican origins of latino writing. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Mohammad, K. (2008). Breathalyzer. Washington, D.C.: Edge Books.

Sanchez, S. (1984). Homegirls and handgrenades. Buffalo, NY: White Pine Press.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Adentro del Sugar salon, a cover band:
flogged dogs double-timing it on drums.
Sangwichitos and cans of painful, iced beer.
Eybody in skinny yeens, atrocious haircuts--
los hongos de Audrey Hepburn's toes.
Vietcong, choloplatoons, hog-posses
tucked away in a restaurant like Los Globitos!
Places where mariachis dress in blacklight,
belt songs about posers pissed on Patron didn't
make it over the ten or the pac coast railing.
So sandlots blueprint an animus of poking
through their Wilshire swine and rancid savages.
Pussy pants so tight they fight the dongrake
in Versailles, the garlic portal chicken and maduros
in the aorta of Venice, but not the one on La Cienaga.
The Yoruba wench in headwrap paper: when was there
relax enough to get her daughter-in-law a snowdrift?
The mocca baby, the cavalier uncles in fashion kits.
The Mexican waiters running Cuban restaurant in L.A.?
The lifeguards assigned to photographers in the employ
of the supernatural versus something like searot.
A black cat is a firecrack, like upholstery from Tee-Jay.
Perfectly acceptable to the answer is the question of Weekends.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


embossing god on savages
neber as fun as punishing
a shipwreck of a man
meaning the portal to the horse
scavenging chalices of tobacco
barrelitos of rum to keep dorsal
a sine loco foot print
meaning publisher unknown
dastardly fortification pantry
voyeur of the cannibal buffet
instead of enraged diocese taxman
shooting heathens down like dogs
as if he were arch-arch or super-uber
tubular like Max Headroom and DeLoreans
orphans in the shoals entice riptides
and savages survive to see pop's sprung
from the Providence, Inc pic-a-nic
delicious mutiny and the only pow-pow
left ward of an island wardened by dirigibles.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Two ideas seem to be at the core of Critical Information Literacy. One is the denotation of the word Literacy so that it encompasses the technological, pedagogical, and socio-cultural concerns of modern U.S. society.

Theorists and academics might want to fight over the semiotics of the word Literacy to justify their degrees and credentials, but the definition of the word procures provenance for the practicum of it's province. In other words, we can't tackle the problem of literacy without first knowing exactly what is meant when we use the word Literacy. When we say "text" do we also mean image, sounds/songs, art, mixed media, and video games. Only by pulverizing the connotations of this word might we reach the premeditated realization of exactly what core precepts/tenets/paradigms are being taught when we say we are teaching Literacy.

The first idea is simple because you could take several approaches and quibble over the paths; however, the second idea is much more difficult to elucidate because it might imply an ethnocentrism or partisanship on the part of the educators that is misguided, cruel, and in connotative variance with stated intents or purposes. In other words, to what point are teachers, librarians, and educators educating people in the behaviors of Literacy? More importantly, to what point are our institutions only serving to support and not supplant the status quo? Why is it so imperative for a democratic society to conscript the help of an educated, skeptical demos instead of a sleepwalker populace?

Critical Information Literacy: Implications for Instructional Practice by James Elmborg in the Journal of Academic Librarianship (Feb 2006) is an excellent article that higlights the finer points of this interesting subsection of Adult Information Literacy. Elmborg makes many fine points but his main point is that librarians must "focus less on information transfer and more on developing critical consciousness in students;" more importantly, "The primary challenge to address these changes lies in the vision librarians and Library and Information Science (LIS) educators have of themselves and of the profession" (2006, pg. 192). The funny thing to me is that many of the instructors at Queens College/C.U.N.Y. are aware of this literature and research and the systemic changes that must be affected to bring the image, mission, and modus operandi of librarians out of the 20th century and into the 21st century.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Code switching is a prominent literary element in Latino Poetry. Although code switching is not a prerequisite, Latino poets code switch (between English and Spanish) to conscript bilingual partisans, lectors, and proxies for whom Spanglish (or the admixture of English and Spanish) is the lingua franca.

The decision to code switch might be a political, ideological, or aesthetic one; then again, certain words and phrases are more sonorous or carry more gravity depending upon which language the poet chooses. For example, I like the word for “orange” much better in Spanish: “naranja”. “Naranja” not only sounds more interesting, the word “orange” is notorious for not having a word that rhymes with it, and might prove limited when it comes time to rhyme or off-rhyme.

However, code switching is a literary behavior that automatically alienates readers who are not bilingual; therefore, libraries must take this into account when developing their collections. It might prove more appropriate for a public library in Los Angeles, Miami, or New York to have adequate materials for Latino Poetry, but does it make sense for public libraries in St. Louis, Akron, and Duluth to have comprehensive collections of Latino Poetry? Well, that depends on type of library addressed. The focus of my study will be Academic Libraries, but what is gleaned there might be able to provide guidance for librarians at public libraries.

In other words, are the materials on the subject of Latino Poetry in the CUNY+ catalog proportionate to the numbers of Latino students in Master of Fine Arts programs at Brooklyn, Queens, and City Colleges? Should increased rates of enrollment of Latino students in MFA programs at these respective colleges justify increased development of Latino Poetry materials (in the CUNY+ catalog)? How vital are materials on Latino Poetry to Latino poets currently enrolled in MFA programs? Should there exist a correlation between Latino enrollment rates and the numbers of volumes of Latino literature (specifically, poetry) found in the CUNY+ catalog?

Efforts will be made to reach out to members of LACUNY (Library Association of the City University of New York) and collection development specialists, but primary emphasis will rely on librarians at C.U.N.Y. collegiate libraries that offer M aster of Fine Art in Creative Writing degrees because these students will be most impacted by the results of this study.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


I have recently shifted from working as a student assistant at a senior college in Queens to working as a college assistant at a community college in the Bronx. My current job is a plus in every way including pay, allotment of hours, and environment. My new job is also closer to my home and allows for me to complete my classwork at work, during work. If it is slow, which it almost always is, then it is assumed that I can complete readings, refine my surmises, and edit expositions.

The other huge difference is that now I am dealing with mostly non-traditional students, whereas at Queens I was mostly dealing with traditional learners, and freshman at that. The students at the community college in the Bronx are typically older, which means that their confidence with computers is lacking; this simultaneously implies that the will not know how to interpret the traffic signals associated with being an efficient surfer. For example, you may have to explain to a non-traditional student that there are different suffixes at the end of email addresses that give you clues about a url's purpose (i.e. .edu vs..com vs. .net vs. .org). You might also need to show non-traditional students where the spell check is on the 2007 Microsoft Office, but you know what: I don't know that shit either because I use Microsoft Office 2003.

I guess the emphasis on non-traditional, adult learners is how to catch them up with their traditional counterparts. How do you play catch up with students who have zero time or tolerance to "play school"? How do you make them arrive at milestones and landmarks of academic achievement. They are not the performance-driven little monkeys that freshmen can sometimes be; their motivations are self-induced and don't have the leisurely stride of the traditional, middle-class student. When teaching non-traditional students you have to start at a competent rationale before you even lay down the spiel. They say students can smell b.s. a mile away, well let's just pretend that non-traditional students are aardvarks and traditional students, well they have the nose and work ethic of something like a bumble bee.

I greatly enjoyed Helene E. Gold's article in the October 2005 issue of Portal: Libraries and the Academy. In it, she builds upon the work of several experts in Adult Literacy Instruction, and deciphers their ruminations. For example, she explains the cause and effect relationship between andragogy and percentages of degree-seeking students over 25, "In 1970, 28 percent of degree-seeking students were over 25; in 1980 this increased to 37 percent and in 2003 to 43 percent" (2005, pg. 470). According to Gold, there are several reasons why there has been an increase in the median age of the typical college student. "This dramatic increase in the number of adults returning to higher education over the last 30 years is attributed to a variety of factors,including a need for skill training related to advances in technology, the potential for increased earnings associated with a college degree, and increased marketing and program offerings aimed directly at the adult leaner" (2005, pg. 470)

More importantly, with non-traditional students there can be no pedagogical artifice. For example, the science of teaching children is called pedagogy, but the science of teaching adults is called andragogy. Even using this sentence to illustrate the importance of prefixes would go a long way with non-traditional, adult learners. And the reason is simple, non-traditional learners need to see the need for them to know a concept; they are a captive audience that is earned, not inherited, and the techniques that you use have to be active, like "small group work and problem-solving exercises" (2005, pg. 471). More importantly, adult learners keep you on your toes because they force you to recognize the faults and boring or ineffectual parts of how you teach. For example, Gold writes, "instructors must not be intimidated by the student...must be prepared to show how a concept of theory applies to the everyday world" (2005, pg.471).