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.

Monday, February 28, 2011


As a kid, I distinctly remember working on models of fighter jets and muscle cars as a way to satiate the curiosity I felt for the inner workings of things. This curiosity led me to perform exploratory surgery on various appliances and electronic systems with little to no success. I could take things apart, but putting them back together was the part I couldn't wrap my head around. Unfortunately, I was not endowed with a manual prowess, like a mechanic or jeweler might have; I was born always holding extra screws.

Dioramas as artistic product have a pedigree that may extend to sixth century Japan and the artform known as Bonkei, and nowadays as Tatebanko. According to Wikipedia, Bonkei is Japanese for "tray landscape" and "is a three-dimensional depiction of a landscape in miniature, portrayed using mainly dry materials like rock, papier-mâché or cement mixtures, and sand in a shallow tray." And, of course, in the last 50 years, we have Marcel Duchamp's Étant donnés, a diorama that took Duchamp 20 years to make and was the primary reason for him absconding from his self-imposed chess retirement.

The dioramas sculpted by Armando Arreola and currently on view at Ave 50 Studio in Highland Park draw viewers into them like some mystical well, or forbidden keyhole. Viewers peer into the tableaus with the senses, and are amply awarded by meticulous, wicked props which easily prompts viewers to make their own narratives. Armando is also able to construct a tiny dialect from the seemingly haphazard repetition of theaters, cinemateques, and mesmerists. The matted hair of the dolls make it appear as if the dolls have mange or some other medieval scourge. You could even say that Arreola's scenes are the frozen shards of apocalyptic doll events.

Arreola's sculptures are part dioroma, part tableau, and yet all overwhelmingly cinematic. The exhibition, aptly titled Magic Circle,is a celebration of magicians, and their retinues, cinephiles, and their haunts, and theater patrons. It's aim is to show the meditative and baroque flair of the artist, but it is also nostalgic like the work of Joseph Cornell and bulging with whimsy like the works of Tracey Snelling. I think it would be safe to say that the characters in the sculptures look like recycled dolls, and run the gamut of physiognomies.

Photo credit: Martha Benedict

Some of the sculptures depict dolls with dirty faces dressed as seers and mesmerists holding seances in dark parlors illuminted by ambient light and the sheen of turqoise ceremonial robes. A swami in matching turqoise turban is about to enact the protocols for calling the spirit world. On his neck: a dazzling star pendant; and, on top of his turban: a decadent feather that makes the doll look more like a gendarme than a palm reader/grifter.

Photo credit: Martha Benedict

Another piece depicts three dolls engaged in a bout of vaudevillian sword swallowing. As a means of titillating the crowd, the two dolls that are assisting hold up an X-Ray to prove the sword swallowing is legit. Audience members look on with bulbous, matted hair. A common element in these sculptures is a frame within a frame architecture, so this particular piece contains the symbols of the spiritual arts in several of its frames.

Photo credit: Martha Benedict

While other sculptures find dolls hanging in ticket sales booths awaiting the second coming of Goddard. As I've mentioned before, the wild card in many of these sculptures is the cinematic aura that Arreola is able to concoct. For example, in the doll sitting in the ticket buying kiosk could be right out of a little cinemateque in Montmarte, but the gigantic doll face and accompanying follicle plummage give the scene a mordant, dreamy quality.

At first sight, I was struck how much these sculptures reminded me of a filthy confessional booth teeming with Hail Mary's. Because the viewer has to peer into them, I was drawn to the immediate sense of intimacy and play the artist was able to convey. In 1822 Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre, the guy who would eventually invent the process of photography, opened the Diorama theater in Paris. He entertained crowds of people by animating gigantic landscape and cathedral representations by changing the light source.

Arreola's sculptures change the light source of approach for dioramas. The people depicted in them can be grotesque, apocalyptic dolls, and the tableaus can be esoteric, nuanced tales particular to no one and thus everyone. "Circulo Magico" by Armando Arreola opened on February 12 and will run until March 6, 2011 at Ave 50 Studio, Inc. in Highland Park. You should see these immaculate, delicate sculptures before Ave 50 progresses to its next exhibition.


Westbrook, Lindsey. The 'Art of Diorama' at Bedford Gallery. Artweek. 39 no7 S 2008.


I almost had enough for penny cooking ware, but I did not cash them in on time. Now, all I have is this beautiful, commercial pattern. And an unrequited sense of sticking stickers.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Recently during an interview, a professor of Spanish asked me what references and resources I would suggest for a student doing research on "La Malinche," a figure in the numerous Chicano novels and paintings. Latino Literature: Poetry, Drama & Fiction by Alexander Street Press might be a great place to start, or the Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in the United States. La Malinche was the translator and guide to Cortes and later bore him a son. I always thought of her as the Mexican Sacagawea, maybe Sacagawea is the North American Malinche? Regardless, the answer I gave highlights Malinche's suture with the myth of la Llorona, but maybe a more historically appropriate database would have been a better place to start, VISTAS: Visual Cultura in Spanish America, 1520-1820 & LANIC: Latin American Network Information Center. I might get lucky using JSTOR; lucky in the sense that I might find an article dealing with a contemporary issue of La Malinche that discusses the history.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Timesheet cretin parakeet
a sniveling titillate
Totalitarian astronaut
c.r.e.a.m. overdrive briquettes
eunichs in the Q-Tips
Ether zooming gizmos
gizmos nothing more Knights
of the Dungaree Order
Me: with Citizen Gravity
Cigarettes, timpano
full of soggy balas
but clavabalas nonetheless
los illest rhetoricians
on channels of irridescent
teeth, the Poconos of chompers
dilapidated winter loggia
bunga bunga apparatus
on the isthmus of my cirrhosis
delicate canal of sound
in Portugese, Italian, Spanish
any way you cut it, tambor
from the percussive rubbish
of the selector, to the jarabe
portmanteau of the vocaldome

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sunday, February 6, 2011


I have a phone interview tomorrow morning with a university in the valley. I thought I would answer some of the more popular questions that people get in interviews. I am creating a flow chart that I might actually post if I can figure on how to make fit into the dimensions specified by my scanner.

Tell me about you (early years, education, work experience, recent times): I was born in Brooklyn, raised in Miami. B.A. in English from FIU in Miami. Studied Abroad in 96' (London). In 99' got a minority fellowship to study at UMASS-Amherst, where I first taught Composition and Creative Writing. M.F.A. in 02' from UMASS-Amherst. Same year (2002) moved to NYC and worked for several community colleges (Kingsborough, Hudson County) and colleges (Yeshiva) before joining the NYC Teaching Fellows in 04' to teach high school English to Bronx inner-city youth for three years. Along the way, received Adv. Cert. in Secondary English Instruction from Lehman College and my Public School teacher license(which I am in the process of transferring). In 2007, received ALA Spectrum award to subsidize M.L.S. at Queens College. Interned at Museum of Moving Image in 2008. Graduated Queens College in 2009. 2008 started working at Bronx Comm College, let go at the end of 2009 because of budget cuts. 2009 started working at The Bronx Institute and in June of 2010 moved to Los Angeles area.

What do you know about our company?
According to U.S. News, The University of blah blah is a private institution, founded in 1891 with a total undergraduate enrollment of a little over 1,500 students. Tuition for the 2010-2011 year was estimated to be $29,800. In addition, "the university provides student-centered, values-based and diverse learning environment."

Why do want to work for us? According to U.S. News, the 2009 endowment was almost $28 million dollars, which means that there is a healthy dialogue on how to best services the needs of students. It also means there is manpower to do many of the amazing things we expect our libraries (especially academic ones) to do. I am also a huge fan and proponent of keeping class size small and personal. According to the Library Factbook, "In 2007-08 41% of the overall instruction sessions were conducted at other campuses while 58% of total sessions were conducted at main campus. One of the library's strategic goals is to provide equitable services for main and off campus programs." Therefore, there is a real push from the data collected to equalize or stabilize the amount of instruction at Wilson Library with other campuses run by University of Blah. From 2007-2009 there was a great reduction in instruction, but from 2009 to date the figures have equalized, which shows great effort and care went into stopping the hemorrhaging.

Why do you want to work for us? I have reviewed the literature on the Blah Library webpage and am impressed by the insistence on Information Literacy exerted. It goes beyond aligning learning standards to those determined by ACRL; the standards expressed in the literature show that the library is making earnest gains in ensuring that the concepts of Information Literacy are firmly embedded in each student. I also feel that ULV is a place where my efforts will be appreciated and incorporated into the administrative infrastructure. Moreover, I feel that my perspective will lend a greater scope of expertise and objectivity to the one already established and in use at the University and its library.

What do you look for in a job? I look for a job that will allow me the opportunity to deliver exemplary service, and utilize my people skills to champion institute endeavors. I work best with supervisors that openly communicate expectations, and provide examples/samples of the work they expect. I look for positions that will allow me to think creatively, visually, and with the full force of my verbal faculties. I enjoy cultivating connections with colleagues in other disciplines and departments; I enjoy solidifying peer networks that use the library as a hub, and talking to people outside of the immediate province of libraries. I especially like telling them what the library where I work can do for them, and how we can both prosper from collaborative efforts.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


was hoping the totaled crimson Volvo
was going to toe down and shape up.

it had already shown regenerative properties
and i got to thinking the calaveras
could be remanded, that the somnambulant
water pump, the spark plug wires
shredded Carbonara, the spark plugs
themselves, carbonized as they were
past mechanical retribution
might still power she

was gwowing at the gaping in millimeters
exhibited by the spark plugs, the base jump
of chispa executed with dismal effort

was praying the narcoleptic oil drip
the caked-on and sooted hoses, the inside
lamp light fixture hanging apparatus
was never going to fit snugly back in the roof

Alas! despite proving partisan, she was slayed
in a manner reminiscent of Joan of Arc

her radiator, overheated from the blood
of the battle with pubis plus dank
cascabeles and castanets from the sopping
kerotene flame in the coolant pipe

Alas! she loyal herald shepherd
moon beam public radio selector fuses

she ran all day, every day
the check engine and replace light bulb
warning light ghosted into the console