Friday, July 18, 2014

Calling all Guardians! We need your help....

The unaccompanied children detained by the immigration authorities between October 1, 2013 and May 31 of this year, according to the Pew Research Center, total close to 50,000 minors. Of these, 25% are Mexican, 25% Guatemalan, 29% Honduran and 21% from El Salvador.

***I never thought twice about my politics. If you know me, you know I love kids: Period. 

Preface: Been poor all my life, I don't think at this point expressing my position on the BorderTown Refugee Children, is going to ruin my career. 
Not speaking out will ruin my heart and blind me to their faces.
The Border Kids of My Life POR VIDA

Consider what I found after a few clicks.
"Along the way, over 70 percent of migrant children will die or be enslaved. They never reach their destination because they are prey to vultures lying in wait in Guatemala or Mexico to sexually abuse them, force them to join criminal gangs that operate with impunity, or kill them to intimidate others. They are children unwanted by anyone - the children of no one. ... Let us offer our children a future. That is our responsibility, because the children of Honduras are the children of us all."

HOW CAN I help?Link to ways to help

Donating your money

Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. Some Catholic churches in South Texas have been operating as temporary shelters for migrant children and families, and the regional Catholic Charities office is providing on-the-ground support. You can donate online here.
Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief. Southern Baptist groups have also been providing emergency support to children and families, including coordinating supply drives for children in detention. You can donate online to their general disaster relief fund here. To donate specifically to their efforts in South Texas, write a check with the designation "Border Crisis" and mail it to the address listed here.
Kids In Need of Defense. KIND is a service and advocacy organization dedicated to protecting unaccompanied immigrant children. They're working to get children representation and support in legal proceedings. You can donate here.
RAICES. RAICES is a Texas-based organization providing legal support to immigrants. They have been providing legal services to unaccompanied immigrant children for a long time, and are handling much of the front-line work now. You can donate here.
International Education Services of Texas. IES is a long-established organization that operates emergency shelters and long-term care facilities for immigrant children, and helps place children with foster families. Learn more about IES here.
As soon as I can I will be looking into becoming a foster family for a child. I can't save them all but I can help out by giving money and becoming a foster parent.

This is something my husband and I have thought of for many years. Wisco is a loving community for children. To give 1 child the joy of sledding; the joy of summer JunJun bug catching. It would be my honor.

So I'm putting this out there: God if it's your will I would love to foster one child big or small. 

Here is a poem I wrote for Children book authors.
A mentor writer once told me, "It is a sin to lie to children" How can I ask my daughter to Pledge Allegiance to a flag or to honor her representatives who are not caring for her Latino brothers and sisters?

It's not about a border, or 'attractive stories'. We are human. If these kids were from England or from Canada--would our welcoming be the same? Sorry but I think if it was a Harry Potter invasion and not a Speedy Gonzalez infestation, the Sound bites, the script, the telling of how we rescued these children would be entirely different.  

We are the Guardians of
Warm milk and cookies
Of cubby hole reading
We illuminate fairies and glow in the night tales
We write for those who might not remember us
But will never forget that first feeling
Our audience doesn’t write thank you letters,
They might not even know how to read or write
But they listen….
They feel and they fear with terror at the hands of evil
We are the Guardians of magical places, friendships and the good life
The children who hear our stories need our words more than we need them.
They crave for that escape from the cruel reality that faith has dealt them.
We aren’t the police,
we aren’t the teachers,
or the social workers,
we come into their lives unknowingly.
We slip in their tiny hearts something powerful:   hope.

Hope against the rapists,
hope against the molester,
hope against the abuser,
hope against the beater,
hope against the alcoholic
hope against the drugs,
hope against the next slap, the next cuss word
hope for the next time they see the sun light hope
for the next time they live through this moment of pain.
We write for children we write for hope.
Guardians that’s us.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A snap look at a GN piece I've been working on since becoming part of MFACer's!AKA MadFACers!

MFAC quick Journal entry: Day 3:
Feeling likes it's been three weeks already.
Lovin all the love.
Knowing I am surrounded my writing peps is warming down to the bones. Thanks to the always encouraging voice of Swati Avasthi... I started this graphic novel first semester before discovering picture books...

Listening to all of us melting with with Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park! Yep that was my homework!!!
So if that gives you the first step than,
you will know why I'm so excited for tomorrow's Gene Yang's three day intensive lecture on Graphic Novels.
This is the author that my six year-old loves already: Animal Crackers!

So here is a re work of: Graffiti Wars

Scene: Prologue
Where messages are posted on sides of mail boxes
When girls become spies
Jail Bait biting on last nights throw ups.
Toys fighting to go ONE ring up to see who will be on display next at the gallery.
for who can draw the next piece.

Scene: When we could smoke in coffee shops...

ETC: Drawing is fucking hard--
You make look so eazy

TENSE: Its the pen

ETC: What is that- a rollie?

TENSE: They're 4 bucks but well worth it, tho..

ETC: So where we going 2nite?


 ETC: you know to: shhht shhht shht
(has her hand in spray can holding position)

TENSE: Fucking--I don't know, I'm fucking done with all these Toys... 
Fuck! Don't ask me--

ETC: Fine. (back to drawing)

TENSE: Just not right now AIGHT? 

ETC: AIGHT?? now who's trying to sound all eastcoast!

TENSE: Fuck still we gotta get new colors, faders, some skinneys and....

ETC: (How am i gonna get out of the house? through the window?) (inner voice)

@copywrite Araceli Esparza 2014
FOLKS that's all I got for now! Swati mi professora de first semester knew this story could be told... I just had to wait for slow to grow. Inch by inch!
He is a young white tagger building up a scene where you gotta run fast to get to the next wall. TENSE
She is a shorty Maria (WHICH ISN'T HER REAL NAME but you get the idea)  from the block but only goes by ETC.
Both start as friends with one common goal to get even with their past, making every wall pay.
She finds out love ain't easy when you balance punk and skin in a small college town.
Them O'Kellys and All Nighters,
No space on the scene for hot young thing

He realizes far way places are better than basements.
He holds on to moments like mama's beatings.
One chance that's all he's get the FUCK out of DODGE...

How will it end?-Shit even I don't know! Which is why I haven't let go!

PS PLEASE nothing but love (for comments) and who cares if this never sells. this is my page...

So no biting!
Interesting in learning more?
My Profs (Professores/as):
Kelly Easton
Ron Koetge
Marsha Chall

PS.S. Hamline does offer scholarships for everyone and for WOC (writers of color)...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Midnight misses....

Coming up for air, 
looking at a bar wired crows nest 
called my life, 
thinking it needs some fresh paint then I see the wall paper and realize that my thorns aren't so bad 

They help me create space 
in places that no one wants to venture
fold over pages 

my adobe house 
with cool cement floors
and chickens
with mi Tia Rosa y Tio Juan
waiting with wide arms to carry me up 
to the windowsill for a picture

Damm I miss her
Her brown skin white hair 
her bird like disposition
How she danced
how she knew
her patience 
her smoky friends
her singing birds
Ve por una coka mija andale vaya aqui tienes tu puedes...
I knew what she meant not that I could or couldn't buy it but that I could ask for it...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hoppity Hop it's a BLOG HOP!

I belong to this wonderful community of writers from my MFA to Da C program at Hamline University.

One of them is the wonderful Society of Young Inklings creator: Naomi Kinsman !!!
Youth, teens who want to write please check out this program YoungInklings.

As an educator and presenter, sometimes I have the privilege of presenting to teens and youth and many of them want to get into writing but don't know where to start.
Young Inklings is a great option!

Okay now to the hoppity hop of this blog hop or linking chain 

So Naomi did the hop and left me the same questions she answered,  for me to answer--Confused YET?

I was!!!!!!!!!!!urrrr and I consider myself tech savvy!

So it goes Ladies and Gents:

The questions:

1) What am I working on?

Now, I craft poems, I used to write poems to relieve my emo but lately I want to perfect my poems, to deliver clear images versus messages.

I write picture books because I am amazed at the hard work 700 words and 32 pages can be!!! What a simple challenge! 
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My work differs from other Chicano/Latino Picture Books because I tend not to have adults play a huge part in my stories. I use trends (like what kids are doing: hiking, video blogging, gaming, snowboarding, etc.) and mix in cultural characters. My voice is Mid-West so I differ from NYC/California Latinas/Chicanas in the type of sayings or dialog or accent their characters have. Basically, I'm a bit small town!  I mix in Spanish, but it's not intended to teach Spanish but to add sauce to the story.
3) Why do I write what I do?
Ultimately, I write for kids because its so much fun- I love the journey of what off-the wall idea I'm going to put my main character through!!
 I write stories for Latino kids who might not have had that "Latino" experience but want to know about it. For example:
Mi Mama was a disco 70's kid so she never put my hair in braids. I always had a short hair with bangs or permed hair (another story), but I would see mis primas (cousins) and amigas with these lovely thick and so complicated braids... So now I'm working on a Latino Family story called My Braided life!  

4) How does my writing process work?

My writing process is to hole myself up for a couple of days and write and write! 


I keep quotes and ideas on slices of paper. I use poster boards to dummy up a picture book. 

I read a lot of picture books in particular poetry picture books- I try to read at least 5 per week. Not just read them but study them.

***This is only half way true because I answered these questions in the Spring. 

Now that its Summertime, my reading is like zelch and my writing is revision. 

Yes it's writing but it's lots harder than first draft writing! 


By answering these questions I have come up with at least three new ideas (and of course I can't remember them now) for a picture book! Ciao! 


Anna Palmquist  

Anna is an aspiring young adult writer who also does poetry and art on the side. Her art website is and she blogs about writing and life at

*** BTW any writer who is this funny and quick to the test--we seriously gotta pay attention to!***


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

It was confirmed...

Cuando algo esta confirmado, it because you heard it, before it was to be.
You heard it or some variation of what came to be.

I heard him call me, "Maestra," and I remember wow that's so professional.
The only person I could not convience was myself que you si soy una maestra.

Not for being a mother can I consider myself a Maestra pero siendo una hija (nieta) de una maestra.
Si she was mi maestra, mi abuelita.
I was at the Dr.'s office en Mexico, cuando el Doctor called me Maestra.

I had just finished telling him what my profession was and my life for the last year-

Yep Mexican Doctors got time listen:).

Pero I had said, maestra de inglis 

para mi I have always been that, 
but when he said it,

Maestra con su Masters
and the seed of getting my master's degree was planted in
Iraputo, Gto at a doctor's office.

Mi otro barrio gave me that last gift!
The gift that dreams are possible and limitless and far as your sky eye.

Mi voy a graduar el 21 de Julio del 2014 con mi Maestría en Escritura Creativa con un enfoque en la literatura infantil!!!!
MFA to Da C                               BABYYYYYYYYYY!!!

Gracias a Mi Abuelita and Mi Pueblo Mi Familia y Mi WheyyyyyYYYY 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

1st Annual Madison Womyn's Music and Arts Festival: Blog interview with Thistle and Thorns!

I have been honored to part of this powerful event. In the last year, life has brought me a wave of women centered activities this has infused my walk as a woman and as an activist. Following with that theme I would

Thistle and Thorns up north in front of Lake Minocqua after playing at the 47th Annual Ashland Folk Festival
Celeste Abril Ixchel -- Musical Saw, Dean Verleger -- Electric Bass and Thistle Pettersen -- Guitar and Vocals
  --like to mass the mic to Thistle and t. The band is first up in today's line up at the High Noon Salon @2PM   

Some Q & A with little bit of fun
When did you start playing? 
I started playing in High School. A couple friends and I were exploring different means of making music - part jamming and part composing. One avenue included stringed instruments, drums, and 4-tracks. I played bass. We ended up delving extensively into software for music programming, but the bass has always stuck with me. (DEAN)
I began playing guitar at age 15 and have played it as my main instrument ever since. I wanted to play like Simon & Garfunkel and then the Beatles. (THISTLE)

How has living in Madison or WI influenced your music?
It's influenced me tremendously. I had listened to Thistle and Thorns a lot before moving here (I had backed Thistle's Kickstarter for "Through A Window"). But, living in Madison is how I got the opportunity to play with Thistle and learn her songs. Also, being in a place with tons of local folk and international music channels like events, festivals or the campus and community radio has impressed a lot me. Being around that vibrance and all the people that come out and support the music is inspirational. I'd say the energy and exposure from that is the biggest influence. (DEAN)
  The last song I wrote is about the Harvest Camp up north, located in the woods close to the proposed GTac world's largest open-pit iron mine site. If this open-pit mine were to go in, it would pollute the water in the river nearby that flows into Lake Superior, the largest fresh
water lake on earth. The camp is run by The Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, a Wisconsin indigenous tribe. I feel passionately about anti-mining, environmental, treaty rights movement in Wisconsin and regularly attend Madison Action for Mining Alternatives (MAMA) meetings to help with grassroots organizing to stop destructive mining practices in our state. My music has a strong environmentalist and social justice message. There is more information here about the HELP Harvest Camp:

Where do you go for inspiration? (Location, location, location)
I love to go camping or hiking. Devil's lake bluff is magical. Closer into town I love Pheasant Branch and the Arboretum. (DEAN)

To me, water rushing in a river or a stream makes its own natural music.Water lapping gently to shore on a lake is also inspiring. I like to sit by lake Mendota, near my home in Madison for inspiration, or by the beautiful waters up north when I get the chance to travel. (THISTLE)
Who has influenced you the most musically?
If I had to pick one (hard since it changes so often) I'd say Björk. When I was first really delving into music Björk was influential because the production was so complete and the music so beautiful, but there was also certain nature respecting and recognition for our more 'animal' quantities that I identified with but hadn't really heard represented in music before. (DEAN)

Ani DiFranco for sure! Joni Mitchell, Jill Sobule, Patty Griffin -- mostly women singer/songwriters. (THISTLE)

What is your favorite home made dish that you can make? (recipes and everything please)
I love to cook. I usually just wing it with whatever veggies I have - something is usually roasted, something may be steamed or sautéed. If I have some sort of fermented vegetables on the side then I'm good. If i'm feeling a bit more ambitious I might pull out a recipe from Nourishing Traditions like the following:
Eggplant Curry
  2 large eggplants
  2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
  1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  1 Tbs ground coriander
  1 Tbs ground cumin
  1 tsp turmeric
  ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  ¼ cup cilantro chopped
  and ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Peel and cube eggplant and prepare according to the master recipe. Sauté eggplant cubes in batches in olive oil and transfer to a rectangular Pyrex baking dish. Sauté the onions and spices in olive oil until onions are tender. Add remaining ingredients to onions except chopped cilantro. Simmer a few minutes, stirring, until well mixed. Add to casserole and mix well. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees about 1 hour. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
Eggplant Preparation
Eggplant contains a bitter juice that must be removed by salting. Peel the eggplant and cut into ½-inch cubes. Place in a bowl and toss with a generous spoonful of fine sea salt. Let stand, covered, about 1 hour. Rinse in a colander and pat cubes dry with paper towels or a tea towel. (DEAN)

I like to make an Italian stew with fresh produce from my Dad's garden. Potatoes, tomatoes, basil, kalamata olives, eggplant and Italian seasoning. It is good over rice. (THISTLE)

Define "power jam" for you...(maybe I won't include-I'm trying to get to your artistic process)
I love to just be comfortable, and try different permutations and melodies. Maybe they don't go anywhere or maybe they inform an existing song or something yet to be created. (DEAN)

I love just making up lyrics and melodies on the spot with folks who lay down drum beats, bass lines, guitar riffs, etc. Writing songs is something I do almost daily, but to become a song that I will present out in the world, I chisel away at the originally inspired idea and shape it to create a cohesive whole.(THISTLE)

Why is this concert important or what makes it unique? and what gave you the idea to do it?
I completely believe in the focus of the festival. It's sort of two-pronged. On one hand it's a benefit for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women, on the other hand it's a bit of a consciousness raising event where we're normalizing and celebrating women-fronted acts. When the norm in media and stories is to highlight men and include women only 'in-relation-to' the males the normalization of women as the focus (and that not being an oddity) is extremely important. I think events like this are helpful to get to the point where people are not seeing 'women in music' since there is no reason to qualify a musician as a woman (to reference the recent Neko Case exchange). (DEAN)

I think the First Annual Madison Womyn's Music & Arts Festival is unique because it is bringing together the radical community in Madison to focus on women's contributions to our culture and to show solidarity with women who are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated. The Madison left has been concerned about incarceration and the prison system in Wisconsin for a long time, but it is not often that women are highlighted in our discussions and activism surrounding this issue. I wanted to see if we could unite as a community to focus on women without allowing our individual differences get in the way of this focus. So far, so good. The Madison Infoshop is a radical activist resource center in Madison that has been around for 20 years. I am really excited that our infoshop collective is the organizing force for this event and hope it inspires other infoshops across the country to organize similar events. I got the idea to produce a festival like this after going to the Girls Rock Camp event at the High Noon Saloon over the winter. It made me realize that there are so many more opportunities for boys and men to play music in our society than there are for women and that we need to provide girls with positive role models so they know they can rock out just as much, and with their own style, as the boys do.

I am also inspired by the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. I attended for the first time in the year 1998. I had never seen anything like it. Everyone was female, including the sound engineers, the stage hands and all of the performers and audience members. Not only that, there were empowering and inspiring workshops being held in the woods. There were all kinds of women there. Special spaces were set up for different groups and these spaces were respected. I will never forget seeing Tribe 8, an American punk band who straps on a dildo during one of their songs, and then cuts it off and throws it into a crowd of thousands of women. Since some folks have issues with MichFest, we solved the problem that MichFest faces every year of hate speech aimed at them for focusing on women-born-women, by not defining the words "womyn/women" and opening up the fest to everyone. There is of course, the annual organized criticism and boycotts of MichFest. We didn't want that to happen to our festival so we made a clear distinction between them and us. But many of the women attending our festival also attend MichFest and there is just a lot of natural overlap that you can't avoid when doing a women's event in the Midwest. MichFest is not a bad thing or evil like some folks would have you believe -- but it is so controversial now, we felt it was important to let folks know that our festival is not exclusive. (THISTLE)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Fotos y Recuerdos...

I want success
I need success
I have learned so hard no to hold lightly the albums of my life
I remember boxing it holding my album for the last time
Thinking this is the last time I will see you album
I pushed the album in the box along with my bad premonition…
I remember telling my little sister, years ago to paint the words “Mi Familia” with a silver nail polish on the cover of the album.
Mi Familia
About 13 years ago, I had found the album in my mom’s basement, on the cusp of digital everything, finding this album was retro-cool. As a new mother, I wanted my son to have the same tradition I did as a kid looking through albums.
Then, three years ago on some well-meaning but ill-thought out trip to Mexico we were robbed of so many things our: pride, honor, respect, love and this album.
Little faces
Perm hair days
Snow days
Yesterday days
New baby days
Younger years
Looking good moments
In one night
In the cerros (hills)
On a Back road
On a hitched trailer
Of a white truck
By men with guns who in daylight I would have given said compremiso (excuse me) when I would walk by
Men with guns
All my husband asked for was her toy