In May it will be two years that I have been an Adult Librarian for the Los Angeles Public Library; I am very happy with my position, and the branch I work at is a branch with over 100 years of service, and a small Black History Collection (4,208 titles). My side hustles are as a poet and writer, blogger, teacher, interpreter, rabbi (non denominational), sanitation functionary, and publisher, etc. I pay the bills for an online journal called Hinchas de Poesia (www.hinchasdepoesia.com) while one talented designer puts it together and one talented editor edits the shit out of every issue. We don't make any money and we don't ask for any money, so a lot of people do not know how to process our existence, and that's fine as it is equally hard for us to sometimes process our existence as well.
HINCHAS Press came into existence in 2016 to publish an anthology of ghazals (an Arabic poetry form) for James Foley, Ghazals for Foley. If you don't know James Foley, look him up. He and I were close friends in the Poets and Writers Program at UMASS-Amherst. A few years later he actually ends up lending me the money to buy server space to display the first issue of Hinchas de Poesia. So, this anthology of essays, Librarians with Spines, is a big deal because it is the next step in the evolution of HINCHAS Press and Jim's Legacy. What started out as an online journal has evolved into a venue that would like to tackle the lack of color in the publishing industry one ISBN at a time. It is my firm belief that at no other time in the history of the world has it been so easy to edit, publish and distribute a book solely under your influence and care.
When I was a a kid and had recently moved to Miami from Brooklyn, what is now the Kendall Branch Library used to be called the Snapper Creek Library. My parents were customers at the Executive National Bank on the corner of 97th and Kendall Drive, and every Saturday after my mom made her deposits she took my sister and I to the Snapper Creek Library to hang out and read, peer into the lives of things we had not yet conceived of. As an eleven year old transitioning into a mature twelve year old, I found refuge in those stacks, especially the Choose Your Own Adventure series and their extensive juvenile non-fiction. I can not underestimate the importance of libraries in my life, and what a joy they are to visit, and what joys have I experienced simply from a book.
Those Saturdays add up and I see myself older and becoming a more confident patron in 1986, but those first years were a little scary. As a kid, I remember approaching the reference desk as if the librarian behind it were a descendant of G'mork. Eventually, I figured out the order on the shelves and stopped asking for help; getting lost was just another way of figuring out how to find the subjects that most interested me, but I knew there was an order; it was there if you cared to pay attention. So, you can understand how weird it might be to be behind the desk you feared as a kid, to be the first person, perhaps, a kid sees when he or she come to the library.
There's something that happens when you come into a building and realize it's full of books, a weird kind of wattage that accompanies the agglutinated wisdom in ink of forty thousand spines. I do not feel the same way walking into a server closet, or taking a stroll through the air conditioned nightmare of a server farm. While I know I can highlight text on my e-device, I prefer the ball-point chicken scratch of my personal annotations, many of which are anachronistic inside jokes and offer zero insight. There's a sensory threshold I can't seem to get past using e-devices, and my books in no small part represent the parameters of my knowledge, the bricks that fill the foundation, the inconsistencies in the parapets, and the bleed through on the over-re-enforced portions.
I have never met Max Macias in real life, that is, in person. I know he is a person and I know he lives in Oregon and I know he works for Portland Community College and I know he can Smith Grind minipipe coping and loves to teach people about technology. Max and I are anomalies in the Library World because the professional library world is largely white and female. I make the distinction between professional and clerical because in most systems in our country that division is solely predicated on race, meaning in our large library systems, people of color do most of the clerical work at a library, and most of the professional work gets done by Caucasians. There is nothing wrong per se with this except when you change your shirt and start playing for the other team.
Max and I do professional librarian work as men of color (and politically vociferous men at that). But, this is a personal work of scholarship and we are publishing without our respective affiliations; Max and I are publishing this book as private citizens. We started out as Face Book friends and then we realized we both grew up skateboarding, we both were at the inception of Hip Hop and Punk Rock, and we both loved the dreamers, that category of people that constantly look at the world with an enormous sense of what if.
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.