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.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


On May 27, 2011, U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hilda L. Solis hosted a town-hall style meeting in the Recital Hall of East Los Angeles College. The "conversation" lasted 90 minutes and included the expertise of seven civic leaders, like Dolores Huerta, noted labor activist, Father Richard Estrada, from Our Lady Queen of Angels Church, and Laphonza Butler, president Service Employees International Union. Solis spoke with preternatural ease to an auditorium pulsing with E.L.A.C. students, card-carrying S.E.I.U. members (clad in purple T's), a column of cameras pointing at overdressed telejournalists, and a cadre of local reporters snapping indiscriminate shots of the proceedings. Plus, the amount of pressing flesh, handshakes, and brown man pounds was enough to make any person blush.

According to the U.S. Dept of Labor, "The event...[was]...a continuation of the national conversation that President Obama started in a speech in El Paso, Texas on May 10, 2011." Solis spoke in a conversational manner about immigration reform, and allowed the "stories" that lose volume behind jingoistic doggerel (don't inhale the Foxygen!) to speak leagues. She spoke with great conviction, adagio, so that every phrase carried the strength of time. And even though the purple acoustic panels in the Recital Hall surely helped Solis' timbre, her tone became resounding, and her credentials obvious: First Latina in the California State Senate, First Latina Secretary of Labor, etc.

In short, her speech advocated for the nation to realize the "economic benefit immigrants bring" and that "comprehensive misrepresentation is not in our best interest." In terms of whether states or the federal government should decide the future of immigration, Solis was transparent. She said it was "not about 50 states entering legislature, but about a federal program," hinting that it was up to the federal government to decide what should be done with illegal immigrants (asylum versus extraction). Solis used the power of stories about immigrants to drive the point home; she even cited her story of sacrifice and struggle being raised by immigrant parents, who experienced great bouts of anxiety over their work situation in the U.S.

Solis cited compelling statistics to reinforce her contentions that immigrants are a positive, vital, and law-abiding sector of our society. "For example," Solis said "In the U.S., immigrants file three times as many patents as Non-Immigrants." Therefore, what needs to change is the perception of immigrants; what needs to stop is the rampant scapegoating they are constantly subject to, and the vitriol our more conservative citizens like to concoct every time dismal unemployment figures go public. Solis' introduction was given by Dolores Huerta, the co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America. Huerta's introduction emphasized Solis' commitment to all the people of California, reminding us that Solis went after exploiters in her district, but did not let that stop her from going after agricultural employers in say Pescadero, California.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Celebrating Cuentos: Promoting Latino Children’s Literature and Literacy in Classrooms and Libraries. Jamie Campbell Naidoo, editor. Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited, 2011. 381 pp. $55.00 ISBN 13: 978-1-59158-904-4

by Yago S. Cura

I like to think the results of the 2010 Census caught everyone by surprise except Latinos. Latinos have been following the writing on the wall since the 2000 Census, and its fortuitous projections. Latinos still lag in terms of educational attainment, broadly, and high school graduation rates, specifically. Moreover, even though “22 percent of all children under the age of eighteen identified as Latino,” (2010 Census) Latinos were severely absent from the children’s literature available to students. Naidoo’s book cites a study conducted by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center which shows that of the roughly “5,000 books published in the United States in 2008…roughly 48 were created specifically by Latino authors/illustrators.” Therefore, Naidoo’s book is a phenomenal resource for Latino grammar school teachers, as well as professors of Education, priming the new crop of educators that are going to tackle these disparities in achievement. The first section provides stellar reference on the history of Latino education via landmark cases; the second section of the book presents a doubletake on the development of Latino children’s literature in the United States. And, the third section delineate resources for augmenting collections and planning for seminal Literacy events like Día.

Monday, May 9, 2011



On April 5, 2011, James Foley, a war correspondent for Global Post was captured by Qaddafi army officials. This happened outside of Brega, a petroleum-rich town to the south of Benghazi, nestled in an armpit of the Mediterranean.

Jim was doing something that he had studied to do, and he was doing it with little to no technical, logistical, or communications support. He was documenting first-hand, and in first person, a lode of raw History: it's been more than 40 years that Qaddafi's ruled Libya unperturbed, after having power-grabbed in a paint-by-numbers coup d'etat in 1969.


I imagine Jim's car being taken over on some blanched highway, and that the driver slowed out of necessity. I imagine there was confusion in the air, and plumes of explosive soot--people running verso to a popping noise. Many of the posts that Jim had already uploaded from Libya were pretty Helter Skelter.

In one, a soldier operating a mortar runs away from the mechanism as it hiccups and belches its ordnance into the immediate air of a paramilitary crowd. In another, several infantrymen, dressed like Hip Hop track stars going to breakfast at IHOP, jump out of the flatbed of Toyota pick-up as it spits several surface to air missiles into the stratosphere.


Jim's videos show a nascent rebel army, part Gomer Pyle, part Ali G, ironing out what it thinks are wrinkles, when in reality they are major body dings. They show rebels in desperate need of the Sparknotes versions of Bootcamp, as the majority of volunteers have zero prior military training. But, they also show an army possessed of great verve and common, blue-collar courage. They show lambs dressed as lions dressed in track suits and keffiyehs, strafing the sky with Kalashhnikov spatter for the hell of it. They show unfettered idealism, brazen optimism, and a hunger for normalcy and

The Libyan rebels had taken advantage of a tactical victory in their pursuit to rent the country in two, and it seemed that they had Qaddafi's army on the run. Around this time, it was becoming very clear that Qaddafi was not going to unhinge his mandibles, and that a very clear civil war had commenced in Libya.


The phrase, bear witness, carries an immense connotation. For one thing, you have to carry, withstand, or bear, witness; you can't transcribe it, or pass witness; you can't even give witness. Bear witness is an devious, onerous phrase; the infinitive should come with medical labels that proffer advice on dosage.

This must be the reason that teachers make efficient social drinkers, maybe being a teacher should come with a warning label. Jim taught me everything I know about teaching, which is actually a measly inheritance; but, he taught me to be confident in my assertions and humble in my presumptions. He also taught me that if a quarter of the class you teach are with you, then that's a great minority for you to have as a teacher. In other words, convince a quarter of the class that what you bring is of value to their ears, and the other aspects fall into line.

Inner-city teaching is the only teaching worth squat in my book, which is convenient for me because I allowed myself to be consumed by a fledgling inner-city high school for three years. That's right, for three years, all the toasts I gave in my head were inextricably linked to my role as an inner-city facilitator in the Bronx.


The implications of the denotation of witness are fraught with living up to the definition; and yet, the anecdote of what has been seen, the story that comprises the witness you "bear" must be sieved through a narrator. Without the narrator to do the bearing, who will do the hauling when it comes time to carry the story?

This one time Jim was in New York City for the wedding of a mutual friend, and I was still teaching in the Bronx so I invited Jim to sit in on sixth period English. I was doing Othello with a mixed class of English Language Learners (ELLs) and SpEds (Special Ed kids), even though I didn't have a license as an English as a Second Language or Special Ed teacher. Jim came in with his lunch, and shortly thereafter, he put his head down and went to sleep. After class, several of my students asked me about the "teacher" I put to sleep with my boring-ass lesson. Maybe to Jim, the story was what my students would make of the person they thought was observing their teacher?


For all the intricacies associated with witness, you'd think that the phrase might try to hide the implicit duty of its existence. It is no easy task to carry this responsibility, and many journalists shy away from bearing witness as soon as it is convenient. In many ways, the work Jim has been doing as a teacher, journalist, fictionist all serve to bear witness to a pervasive social ill. Was Foley stockading Boyscout badges by Bruce Wayning his way into the minds of the invisibly destitute?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I know Jimmy is running through cyphers, writing rhymes in his head, and staying strong through stamina epistles.
I know smokescreen dope, cilantro boudoirs, stringing the Higgs-Boson along like
a pearl instead of a pussy stone.
The writer factory done made us soft as pretzel gazelles, and all those politics
turned my seersucker into a poncho.
I know rapid-fire sobriety, pajama manamana, the sound large calibers make as they
darn kevlar at eight hundred miles an hour.
I know a bassmobile with resonate frequency turret for to wisk you from the pen
of inequity, the illegal corral.
I know you as handsome punching bag, an individual of interest with severe heat-up
doldrums, and zero violent priors.
Just a little malfeasance between friends, two rentals retired to the infirmary,
and a topless chick in the Pioneer hot tub.
I know Jimmy is looking for a word that rhymes with kaiser, or mumbling rapid core syllables, or lobbing foul balls.
I know the conditions are inexorable for you, while for us the banter makes us remember the rapport off your dome.
Hold on familial horse! Keep your regiment, adagio. Juggle the supple invocations
to return home safe, an adjunct of fortune.