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, December 13, 2015


Later on today I will be one of many panelist at an event for workhorse online magazine, Culture Weekly. Weeklyis run by a cadre of Angeleno artists, among them Chiwan Choi, the writer that asked me to collaborate alongside Skira Martinez, Zoë Ruiz, and Janice Lee. The title of our panel: "Gatekeeping vs Holding Space: Editing, Publishing & Curating as Social Justice Work."

I feel super fortunate to be able to opine at this gathering, especially among so many talented writers. A cursory search on Google for "minorities in publishing" brings up the Roxane Gay article in The Rumpus, "Where Things Stand." In this article, Ms. Gay and her trusty assistant crunch some numbers concerning the amount of reviews the New York Times has reviewed in its Books section; what they found is not startling, but it is very indicative of the Publishing (capital P) world.

"Nearly 90% of the books reviewed by The New York Times are written by white writers. That is not even remotely reflective of the racial makeup of this country, where 72% of the population, according to the 2010 census, is white. We know that far more than 81 books were published by writers of color in 2011."--Roxane Gay in "Where Things Stand" in The Rumpus

Obviously, Ms. Gay's work points to a problem of access as more books by whites get reviewed than there are actual whites in our country as a whole; this points to a bias which is clear and present, and which writers of color have to compete with, nay, overcome. I believe one aspect of access is visibility, but another one resides completely in who gets to greenlight, or have final editorial say in the production of a book.

As early as 1996, the New York Times was seeing the lack of diversity in Publishing as a problem, if not only as a tidbit that might sells some more newspapers; in their article, "An Emerging Prominence For Blacks in Publishing;Authors Press for Change in Minority Hiring" by Doreen Carvajal, the newspaper reports that " surveys show that black readers are buying almost 160 million books a year, Federal figures show that blacks number 3.4 percent of the managers, editors and professionals."

In the article, Walter Mosley, posits that "The publishing business is in a cultural way, the most powerful institution in America, and because that's dominated by people who aren't necessarily sensitive to the needs and the language of many of their readers, some Americans get left out. Certain needs aren't met." So, basically, the Publishing industry is ruled by whites even though what they produce is not exclusively for sale to whites. So, why don't more minorities go into Publishing seems like the logical next query, until you realize that "Starting annual salaries of 18,000" are not the kind of salary you need to sustain yourself in New York City.

This pitfall is so prevalent that even the new CEO of Holt in 1996 said, "You can only get a job if your parents subsidize you or pay for your rent." What this means is that the only people that are able to get these jobs are the ones whose parents can subsidize their meager salaries. So, in other words: working poor need not apply. Also, this doesn't account for the inherit nepotism rampant in most Publishing. Let's just say Publishing is an insular, non-minority world in which nepotism is favored, culture is a line that is "towed," and dissension is neither encouraged nor genuinely sought out: imagine a soundproofed sound booth at a saw mill at the end of an inaudible forest and you start to get the idea.

So, how do we fix it? How do we persevere as minorities in a landscape that has consistently sought to "screen" us as if we were aggressive forwards bringing the mail? There are many ways to skin a cat, but how many ways are there to increase minority agency in the Publishing world. Well, first off, I believe writers must become publishers; we must start to own the cultural capital that we so freely contract and dole to publishing companies so that they profit. Buy a stack of International Standard Book Numbers for $250 and start publishing your own titles, editions, and imprints. This might be one of the least known secrets in Publishing: one ISBN is like $125 but if you buy a stack (10) it's $250, so the incentive is to buy bulk.

We need to control the narrative being spun as well; we need to help guide the few minority publishers that are making a large splash and learn from their swag. For example, last summer Writ Large Press put on 90 events in 90 days and everyone in Los Angeles was paying attention. This presses programming feat directly authenticate and legitimize their swag as publishers of the word and printers of the page. In other words, build your publishing endeavor up from the bottom up, and include as many friends, agents, actors, musicians, philosophers, academics, artists, writers, critics, pedagogues, bounty hunters, marketing scions, librarians, immigration lawyers, yoga facilitators, and encyclopedia salesmen as possible. The more you put yourself out there and do programs despite costs, overhead, or fawning community interest. Do it because it needs to get done or be done and you will see that people will start to notice.

To that end, there are so many good things happening in the Publishing World, especially in light of Publisher Weekly's poster session that was reported to be attended by zero CEOs or administrative overlords at the Publishing powerhouses. We Need Diverse Books and Minorities in Publishing are two endeavors where the message is the medium: they exist to game-change the trend in publishing and pluralize, diversify, and expand the role of minorities in Publishing. The Mission of We Need Diverse Books is to "advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people," and the Minorities in Publishing podcast is "a brain child of publishing professional Jenn Baker, MiP is a podcast discussing diversity (or lack thereof) in the book publishing industry with other professionals working in-house as well as authors and those in the literary scene."

Monday, November 9, 2015


This is the sylvan cover of the missive that I sent my editor; I sent it to him as penance for being such a twat. Yes, you heard that right. I am a twat!

My editor hates it when I call him while I commute because I have to put him on speakerphone and truth be told it is lame of me to do this to him; it is not sweet to have to have a conversation with a person who has put you on speakerphone and has a protective case that inhibits productive conversation soundfields.


Thursday, October 15, 2015



Gran Nopal
--inspired by a painting by Raoul De la Sota with the same title

Mi nopalito stands before the Milky Way
barrel-chested, insolente en frente de los astros,
bien, bien en bloom, casi emplumado, adumbrated
past simple premonition.

Mi nopalito shadows astros disguised
as maniobras as we are mostly free-style animales
made stars with spines from our pads to our flanks,
stubby extremities and flippers.

Mi nopalito mucilaginous in texture, poised to inherit
purview procession of jaguars, monkeys, condors
effulgent ingénues clustered with the soot of la Via Láctea
garnered through eons of chest hectoring.

Mi nopalito, a pecho frio en las trincheras del tiempo y el espacio.
Mi nopalito,
a blip in the gullet of a radar telescope, a signature
from a prickly species, super-resistant to algorithms in vogue.
Mi nopalito, campeon pedestre, rey super feo, spinosissima.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Martín Espada

Ghazal for a Tall Boy From New Hampshire
For Jim Foley, journalist beheaded on video by ISIS, August 19, 2014

The reporters called and asked me: Did you know him?
I was his teacher, I said many times that day. Yes, I knew him.

Once he was a teacher too, teaching in another mill town
where the mills have disappeared. There, they knew him.

He taught the refugees from an island where the landlords
left them nothing but their hands. In Spanish, they knew him.

They sounded out the English, made the crippled letters
walk across the page for him, all because they knew him.

He ate their rice and beans, held their infants, posed with them
for snapshots at the graduation. Ask them how they knew him.

Beliza, Mónica, Limary: with him they wrote a poem of waterfalls
and frogs that sing at night, so he could know them as they knew him.

We know his words turn to rain in the rain forest of the poem.
We cannot say what words are his, even though we knew him.

His face on the front page sold the newspapers in the checkout line.
His executioners and his president spoke of him as if they knew him.

The reporter with the camera asked me if I saw the video his killers
wanted us to see. I muttered through a cage of teeth: No. I knew him.

Once he was a tall boy from New Hampshire, standing in my doorway.
He spoke Spanish. He wanted to teach. I knew him. I never knew him.

Monday, August 24, 2015


Welcome to the third installment of a collaboration between Gus Harper and the literary journal, Hinchas de PoesiaHinchas is an electronic journal that specializes in poetry  from las Américas; I am able to publish Hinchas by reserving a tiny portion of the generous salary I make as a public librarian in South Central Los Angeles.
Gus Harper continues to be a generous partner and a busy painter. His paintings grace the background of the Death Row office in the new N.W.A. biopic, Straight Outta Compton; and, one of Gus’ paintings hangs in the background of Al Bundy and Sofia Vergara’s house in the popular television show, Modern Family. These are potent visual victories, and we salute his verve and hustle. The next time you are in Santa Monica, please check out his new mural 

Before we start, I think that I should let you know that this night almost didn’t happen. About a month ago, I almost called Gus and asked him if we should even have an event on the 22nd. What I originally wanted was to mark one year since the death of my friend James Foley, and have a reading more tribute than anything, but what ended up transpiring was a reading in which Rebecca Gonzalez, Thelma T. Reyna, Trista Hurley-Waxali, and Peter J. Harris brought very different things to the reading.
The next time, we need to work on sound and light. Some of the lights were out at Gus' so while it created a "romantic" ambiance it might not be what we should have been pursuing. Also, it was a humid night, so maybe I can roll my little portable A/C unit over during the next reading because it got a little hot. But, there was ample space and the small group shared an intimate, unforgettable performance.

(Thelma T. Reyna)

(Thelma T. Reyna)

(Peter J. Harris)

(Peter J. Harris)

(Peter J. Harris)

(Peter J, Harris)

(Yago S. Cura)

(Rebecca Gonzalez, Peter J. Harris, Trista Waxali, Thelma T. Reyna, Frank Escamilla, and Yago S. Cura)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015



I just wanted to send you a reminder of two special events HINCHAS (www.hinchasdepoesia.com) + Gus Harper Arts (www.gusharperart.com) are hosting this weekend.

Both events are FREE to the public, and will be hosted at Gus Harper Art

Gus Harper Art / 11306 Venice BoulevardL.A., Ca. 90066 (corner of Venice Blvd and Sawtelle/Sepulveda)

Friday, May 15 @ 7 PM: Screening of feature documentary, “Crying Earth, Rise Up” (Prairie Dust Films, 2015), directed by Suree Towfighnia. Urlhttp://www.cryingearthriseup.com/

Saturday, May 16 @ 7 PM: Francisco X. Alarcon, omus Simpson, Ruben Cruz, Claudia D. Hernandez, and Angel Garcia.

Please join us this weekend!

Thank You

Saturday, April 18, 2015


Guest-edited by Chip Livingstone, the fifteenth issue of Hinchas de Poesia contains at least 40 contributors!!!!

Saturday, March 21, 2015


I am trying to raise some moolah on Kickstarter to publish a book of ghazals commemorating the life and work of James Foley, American Journalist. We are going to call it, Ghazals for Foley.  met Jim in grad school and we quickly became compinches. We suffered through helming Freshman Comp classes, and Jim taught me a lot about teaching; we even taught together at the Care Center in Holyoke, MA.

To this day, I don't know if it was Jim's moral sense that drove his work in Syria and Lybia, or his naivete, our specific brand of American innocence. These are the facts though: Jim was a freelance combat journalist; he had to sell his reportage to continue to report on Syria; he worked in extremely dangerous situations, with extremely sanguine and unsavory characters; the area he was reporting on was highly contended, with both side willing to commit atrocities (documented) against civilians.

(screenshot of the Ghazals for Foley Kickstarter Page)

I would like to use the ghazal because it is such an old form. According to Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature, the ghazal is "a lyric poem, generally short and graceful in form and typically dealing with themes of love." In terms of structure, the ghazal "begin[s] with a rhymed couplet whose rhyme is repeated in all subsequent even lines. The odd lines are unrhymed." It is a very Arabic, middle-eastern poetic form and it's used a lot in music and lyrics.

What I find most interesting about the ghazal is that it was introduced to the west by the German Romantics, guys like Goethe and Schlegel. According to LitFinder Classic Collection "ghazals are essentially lyrics distinguished by having a limited number of stanzas and by the recurrence of the same rhyme." Those of you who know Jimmy like I knew him knew him to be extremely discursive and recursive, always spitting rhymes and talking about "bars". One of his characters in a novel he had just finished, "Hungry Son," likes to write rhymes while doing his "time" in a youth camp for incarcerated youth in Cook County.

According to The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (3ed.), the ghazal is a "short lyric poem written in couplets using a single rhyme (aa, ba, ca, da, etc.), sometimes mentioning the poet's name in the last couplet." Authors have to be inventive in how they repeat and replicate the line, and it is very personal because the poet signs it at the end with his or her name. When people think ghazals, they think of Rumi, and I think they are right to. I have yet to discern in which ways Rumi and ghazals diverge.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

On Saturday, March 7th at 11306 Venice Blvd. Luivette Resto, Ryan Nance, Rey Macias, Jose Hernandez Diaz, Ashaki Jackson, and Yago S. Cura are going to read their work for the 6 for 2015 poetry event at Gus Harper Art.

I made the above flyer to help publicize the reading, and my printer is acting all weird so it printed the top and bottom all jacked up but it kind of makes sense if you ask me.

The above flyer is the one that didn't make it but I wanted you to at least see that this is definitely not the one that I should use but to get to the first flyer I had to mess it up with this one.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


Don’t talk about commissary on commissary day,
or the Lord of Hot Water will snatch that privilege
due to dues you have not yet paid with the makeshift
bridge of comfort afforded by municipal strangers
scrubbing trays

in Waterworld, or emptying pod bins in the trash
barracks, buffing sparkle paste into the loam of county
corridors trill with linoleum hinges of time-served,
suspended sentences or recognizance released into
the wilds of the streets like a dirty, old bastard, tryant.

When you write your man, don’t write another dime’s
name. Watch out if your bunky tends to hide, she could
be cooking Pruno or assaulting another female in there
when you at class, on your dayroom-game.

Read your book with one eye on the rec room, read the space
like a text, like a cipher armed with ominous nuance, like
scratch-ticket loot spent on roses, graduation bears,
gas-station sunglasses, and Lady-tazers.


Indict me for lurking and creeping, I find seven
copies of A Raisin in the Sun in the trustee book
vault. Eight copies more: we got a class set!,
an exalted salt that allows me to hear my students
boom Beneatha’s sorties

vis-a-vis Walter, tender Lena’s orders while nursing
a soggy, imaginary plant. Indict me for making my
students laugh heartily despite being in county blues,
2 days in without shower, scaly as croc. mocassins,
despite missing kids, husbands, baby-daddies.

Indict me for my nasty tongue while addressing
my undisciplined students; their failures in lexicon
inhibited by the model of exchange I had exhibited.
Indict me for doing project-based learning on the
Watts Riots and dissension over lies our Tio Sam
continues to dispense like lunches in crates in the pod.
Indict me for their squares are shrink-wrapped bologna,
two slices of sad bread and either oriental mix,
muffinroll, or rancid O.J. in little, schoolhouse-carton.


The school closes Outpost Twin Towers, after jump from
Men’s Central, citing hemorrhage via operational costs;
they’ve been in the red for two years because the school
thought pure stomach and hired too many credentialed
teachers. The school realizes client agency has no desire
to honor memos, or directives.

Speaking of directives, isn’t there a false positive?
Isn’t this simply a case of elective missions being fiercely
at odds. Jailers count inmates; but, we’re trying to build
leaders unafraid of beheading pipeline to jail, roadblocking
road to sleek, crystal streetcleaners, of ceasing County’s pithy
blueprint for min. ed. reqs. dredged from lectureinstrumentals.

The women, inmate-students, at C.R.D.F. eager their learning—
they don’t self-segregate, or sabotage more than they can afford to.
But, when there is drama, it is inevitable there are going to be tears,
a spigot of tears, a county spigot of tears with a gang of gnats
and chunks of sick on the side, and petitions on bunk from family
court, divorce papers.

And when they say they are doing something for their kids,
I tend to believe that augury more than men talking about Jesus
for when they get out they leave him in their cell
with that stare.


Let me hear you read aloud, but please speak
above the traffic on the 105 East, the sandblasters
and leaf blowers. Speak above the buzzard,
vectoring in glove of restricted airspace
a transfer or high-power movement under
 riptides of wind by rotors.

Read loud enough so that the nurses must re-check
their meds. list. We are in the rec. room reading very
aloud a dollar-store edition of Frederick Douglass,
but the graphic depictions still stir heavy connection
tip in their remorse tills. It is hard not to fall in love
with the Douglass saying cavernous, gravity things.

Read Demby’s murder by Covey aloud in the rec. room
until silence indicts. Let me hear you read Douglass
deposition himself from our past-future, far-fetched ears.
Let me hear you read Douglass eyewitness himself
from a young age in this light.

The rage indignity breeds, the lack of laws to address
overseer standard-operating-leers. The whole machine
noise of it; how the jail hums with agents, how the gears
tooth upkeep, how even as you earn your keep, some
were just made to be noise-throttled.

Saturday, February 7, 2015


(Los Angeles Public Library Photo Database)

Watts Shadormas #1

Green, Imperial
Section Eight,
Plaza Mex,
busy-bee Long Beach Bull-vard.
fueling, fixing, please.

One oh five,
east eighty miles per
stitch in time
east of pass. or west of pass.,
big invisible.

Pike’s candid report
card, effort-
lessly tells
Yorty, Parker they’re hiding
delicate praytells.

Frye Brothers,
little ‘bro
two blocks from Ma’s casa
come out in rollers.

Public homes,
courtyard laundrylines,
fuzzy all-
eys and lots,
Crips, Bloods, mafia spinsters,
grizzly mattresses.

Compton Ave.,
east one oh third street
da, Mona,
sticking in, out of city
line like jaggedshards (green).

(Los Angeles Public Library Photo Database)

Watts Shadormas #2

Electric Comp-
any, gets
land from Watts
of Pasadena for rail-
loot combinations.

es and junctions, con-
verge pillars
flashing sign-
age and four way stops under
lonely extensions.

oilrainbow vortex,
east one third.
M-L-K Polytech Mall,
guarded by half-cops.

black plumes of gasfire
Utopia Cleaners and
Pastrami Burgers.

Cue ball helm-
ets and hipped shotguns
or roof fires
and peace tanks
never an in between, never
the ranch town it plays.

for your Spanish ghosts
sleep cycles,
blinds slicing white-hot coins, shade
from distant arcades.

(Los Angeles Public Library Photo Database)

Watts Shadormas #3

ria y café
de olla
Kaiser Perm-
anente, suavemente
free sonogram truck.

Chicken coops,
Old Slauson Tower,
May Day Dance,
perp. line-up,
Vermont Ave. stores, Jordan Downs
bungalow picket.

An immense
wave of years plummets:
Headstart Tent,
McCone Rep-
ort bullhorned Alameda
Ave., Central., Cent-ry (rhymes with Gentry).

Railroad roads
ringing barriers
silos and
cisterns and
Regional Operation
Centers and bum lairs.

stone, cottage prison
bars, over
the windows,
slippers and pajamas, corn-
er store door mid block.

Depth charges
lurk places din’s scared
to emit,
emote, re-
sound gruff decibels?

(Los Angeles Public Library Photo Database)