Putting It On The Page At A Sports Bar

Do you ever have days when nothing could possibly go wrong and then it does? I was peacefully sipping on a vanilla latte at the Julius Meniel Café when suddenly I overhear the waitress say they are closing the café at 7pm to wax the floors. Gulp!  As an event organizer (and control freak) this is the last thing I want to hear because  we were supposed to be having the writing meet up at this location. Glad accidental Proyecto Latina attendee Claudia Martinez was there to help me laugh my way through this venue snafu!

What to do?

Well, when in doubt, pray to St. D’Augstino patron saint of pizza and beer. Before I knew it, we were across the street surrounded by a basket of fries, laptops and giant TV screens showing the White Sox game. After we settled in, I looked up from my notebook and saw everyone writing in their laptops and notebooks. Maybe it was the blaring music but everyone was diving deep into the cenote of their writing. I watched the waiters give us curious looks as they walked past with people’s orders. There is something very powerful about coming into a space like D’Augustinos and showing up to the page regardless of what’s going on around you.

So who showed up to write?

Christina Rodriguez ended up writing two blog posts; one on the importance of your teeth and diabetes  and the other on Latino identity. Stephanie Diaz Reppen found herself  working on a piece that she had been opening, reading, putting away and hadn’t revisited since her Hedgebrook residency. She is also working on a piece about a Guatemalan Saint named San Pascualito Rey.

Maribel Mares came all the way from the Bridgeportzlan neighborhood to move some of her writing forward. Funny lady Ruth Guerra is writing 45 pages of creative writing for a fiction class she is taking at Morton College.

Cristina Correa almost went home upon seeing the venue change. Glad she stayed because she divulged a wonderful writing secret that will be made public soon. She began to work on her Axolotl salamander story.  Jessica Mondres was working on a story/collage on the theme of women, tapestry and faith. I was excited to see Jazmin Corona (writer, dancer, photographer) come out and work on some of her own writing.

What do these women have in common besides being writers? At one point the majority of them have all been Proyecto Latina features and have powerful stories to tell.  Afterwards, Ruth shared her pitcher of sangria with us and we dreamed up a Proyecto Latina field trip next year to New Mexico for the Latino Writers Conference and possibly a holiday clothes/jewelry swap.

Lastly, mil gracias to everyone that came out and for being flexible and most of all setting aside time to write. For those that didn’t come out remember whether you are writing with us or on your own carve out the time to write and tell your story.

The next writing meet up will be in Pilsen at Effebinas. Time TBA and in November we will be back on the north side somewhere. If you have any suggestions of places on the north side please let me know.


7.25.10 Domingo Newsbytes

7.25.10 Domingo Newsbytes

Cast of Thirst: Left-To-Right: Claudia Martinez, Josie Dykas front Diane Herrar and Diana Pando in the back

I woke up this morning  reflecting on this week  and I can’t help but be blown away by the amazing amount of Latina talent and creativity that is emerging. Here are some quick highlights:

This week our reading series was packed over at Café Catedral. Folks got to see our feature writer Cristina Correa read her work and hear some new emerging Latina talent during the open mic portion like Awilda Gonzalez and Laura Nuñez.

Later during the week, I had the opportunity to see Aguijón Theater perform Soldaderas at the Goodman Theatre. The play is based on texts by Elena Poniatowska and performed in Spanish. Yesterday, my ten-minute play THIRST was performed by Josie Dykas, Claudie Martinez and Diane Herrera and directed by Nilsa Reyna at Teatro Luna’s first 10×10 play festival.  These ladies spent hours in the sweltering heat with no a/c rehearsing and one of them even came as far away as Elgin. Mil gracias! With all of these things in mind I encourage all of you to continue to keep creating and making sure you find an outlet to tell your story.

In August we will be hosting Sandra Treviño, guest curator for Proyecto Latina, she is lining up some musical features that will be performing at Café Catedral. Also, coming up the pipeline in September is Adelita Pata de Perro by Jenny Priego at the lovely Carlos & Dominguez Fine Arts Gallery in the Pilsen neighborhood. Check back for more details this week!

Finally, we are starting to draft up the schedule for our 2011 reading series, if you know someone that deserves to be nominated let us know and tell us why? Send your recommendations to info@proyectolatina.org


Felicidades to Carmen Giménez Smith her memoir Bring Down The Little Birds is coming out on August 5. The book asks, “How does a contemporary woman with a career as a poet, professor, and editor experience motherhood with one small child, another soon to be born, and her own mother suddenly diagnosed with a brain tumor and Alzheimer’s? Sounds like a good end of summer read!  Preview an excerpt.

While the Latina population continues to rise our visibility in mainstream media is pretty slim. A perfect example of this is the new CBS daily talk show that’s being lined up. The six hosts include: Julie Chen (CBS Morning Anchor), Holly Robinson-Peate (actress), Sara Gilbert (actress), Marissa Jaret Winokur (actress), Leah Remini (Actress) and Sharon Osbourne (Reality Star, Wife of Rocker). Why are there no Latinas on this daily talk show? I’m sure there is a Latina that is more than qualified to do this job. Drop the folks at CBS a line and ask them why there are no Latinas on the show?

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This week I was wandering around the Macy’s store on State Street when I passed by the MAC counter and cringed at their distasteful makeup line based on Júarez. While both MAC/RodArte have issued apologies and will change the name of the new makeup line it’s a great story of a bad marketing idea gone wrong and viral.  Latinas used their voice to give it a big thumbs down! We hope MAC keeps it’s promise and donates $100,000 to a cause in Juarez. Our friends over at Wise Latinas Linked also had an opinion on the MAC/RodArte makeup line fiasco. Here’s what they had to say…

07.18.10 Domingo Newsbytes

07.18.10 Domingo Newsbytes

Last week Diana lamented that summer is passing her by much too quickly.  I’m glad to report that she’s managing to get some fun into her schedule. I got to catch up with her yesterday when she invited me to join her for the Goodman’s Latino Theater Festival’s reading of El Nogalar by Tanya Saracho. Afterward we strolled down to Millenium Park and enjoyed a beautiful summer afternoon sipping cocktails and people watching.   We caught up with our perspective projects and I realized that our crew of women is a busy bunch this summer.

  • Thelma Uranga and me are  instructing Tejer y Poder, a knit and crochet class that is an After School Matters program at Pros Arts Studio.  Thelma recently received a plug in a round-up article about Radical Art and Yarn in Chicago Art Magazine.
  • Coya Paz is gearing up to host a preview of her next show-in-progress: The Americans.
  • Diana Pando is putting the finishing touches on her first 10 minute play, Thirst, which is part of Teatro Luna’s, 10×10 play festival.

We are also super excited about Proyecto Latina tomorrow.  Our feature is writer Cristina Correa, who will share flash fiction and maybe something more with us.  We’re returning to the lovely Cafe Catedral in Little Village.  I’ve got a little something new to share, so bring something with you and join me for the open mic, and we’re hoping that the Chisme Box will break last month’s record.

As for the world beyond my immediate vacuum:

  • Humor me, I know that there are much more serious things going on in the world but the news about Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem did incite an awww, how sweet reaction when I first read about it this week.
  • Alla is part of the lineup at the Pitchfork Music Festival this weekend and I’m also super excited that one of my favorite bands is getting covered by Cafe and the Chicago Tribune.
  • A huge misunderstanding for educator and director Lisa Portes–juggling groceries, her children and a phone call to her husband, she inadvertently walked out of a Whole Foods without paying for an item.  Whole Foods is responding with a strict policy that will not allow her to return. I can’t help but wonder what creative response an incident like this may inspire in an artist.
  • Another story to raise eyebrows is the decision to credit the murders of hundreds of women and girls in Ciudad Juarez as the inspiration for a new fashion line.  Jezebel breaks it down here.
  • Finally, in an interview about the production of her play Real Women Have Curves, Josefina Lopez says, “If nobody hears your voice, you better shout louder.”  She got more words of wisdom and she talks about a new play in progress inspired by Arizona happenings that she drafted in two days.

That’s all for now, have a wonderful week!

07.11.10 Domingo Newsbytes

07.11.10 Domingo Newsbytes

In the last week I’ve had a few folks tell me that “summer is over”. How can I have missed summer? This can’t possibly be true, summer isn’t over. It reminded me that we need to be in the “now” to truly enjoy summer. It also dawned on me that between presentations, emails, texts,  phone calls and Facebook I haven’t been doing anything fun. Like most hyper-busy Latinas we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our work and family life.

So, I decided to be spontaneous and I went to the “Memory of Fire” concert over at the Pritzker Pavillion. There is nothing like the sound of an outdoor orchestra accompanied by a staged reading by some of Chicago’s best Latino actors. It was great to take advantage of this free concert and relax.

I also indulged in a complimentary iced coffee and pan con mantequilla over at Cafecito and lunched with a Latina leader at Catedral Café in Little Village. It reminded me that none of these things matter if we don’t take advantage of all these summer moments.

With this in mind, remember to squeeze in some relaxation time and enjoy the moment before summer really is over.  That said I invite you to join us for the next 3rd Monday Proyecto Latina reading series where Cristina Correa takes the spotlight, get the full scoop here.

Are you a Latina blogger? Well if you are the folks over at LATISM would love to pick your brain. There are over 71 million active blogs online and Latinas are one of the fastest growing demographics and are traditionally undercounted (surprise, surprise). According to LATISM’s Chair and Founder, Ana Roca-Castro, the aim in conducting the survey is to provide visibility to the Latinas in this arena while providing valuable comprehensive information to the corporations who are interested in reaching this highly coveted market. “One of the highest priorities at LATISM. Take the survey today!

This week Comedy Central’s Steven Colbert volunteers to be the fourth American to become a farm worker through the United Farm Workers of America’s “Take Our Jobs” campaign. We can’t wait to see Colbert’s report back of his experience in the fields picking vegetables and fruits.

An organization doing wonderful work is The Immigrant Archive Project. I came across their site and was fascinated at all of the stories they have by immigrants. The organization is dedicated to preserving the life stories of Latino immigrants to shed light on their hopes, dreams and struggles.

With no immigration reform on the horizon many families are bearing the brunt of broken system primarily immigrant women. Last month, the Immigration Policy Center published a report, Reforming America’s Immigration Laws: A Woman’s Struggle”

The focus of the report is on the abuse, assault and exploitation these women can face from traffickers, employers, law enforcement since they are less likely to call police because of their immigration status and these crimes go unreported. The report also gives recommendations of what policy makers in D.C. can be doing to solve this problem.

Andrea Echeverri, lead singer of the Colombian band Aterciopelados gave Alt.Latino her list of women that ROCK in Spanish!  Her list includes everyone from Mercedes Sosa to Juana Molina. Check out the complete list…

Also, there will be a Public Hearing on Comcast-NBC Universal merger. You might be asking what this has to do with you. This merger is going to hit Chicago hard both Comcast and NBC have a history of sidelining independent producers and media makers. Jean Prewitt, of the Independent Film and Television Alliance, testified that the Comcast merger is about “the very future of creative life, cultural expression, and the free exchange of ideas.” She wrote, “This merger places at risk the opportunities for diverse, original and independent programming to reach the public through traditional media and new platforms.” The National Association of Hispanic Journalists has come out strongly against this merger–their statement is here.

Held Tuesday, July 13, 2010, from 1:00-8:00 p.m., public comments from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at  Northwestern University Law School  – Thorne Auditorium, 375 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL.

07.19.10 Cristina's flash fiction and more

07.19.10 Cristina's flash fiction and more

Our third Monday Proyecto Latina feature for July is Cristina Correa, writer, poet and fierce wordsmith. Held at the lovely Cafe Catedral in Little Village. Bring your chismes and come ready for the open mic. Get the full scoop below and plan to join us.

Date: Monday, July 19, 2010
Time: 7 p.m.
Place: Cafe Catedral, 2500 S. Christiana, Chicago, Il

Cristina Correa is a working artist in the city of Chicago.  Most recently, she has been published in Latina Voices, Say What Magazine, Ghost Factory Magazine and participated in a poetic and visual exhibition entitled Convergence.  She graduated from the Columbia College Fiction Writing Department as an Alexandroff Community Scholar.  She has taught creative writing and advocated for the empowerment of young people in the Chicago Public Schools and various community organizations since 2004.  Her chapbook  This is the year was published by Watch the Steps Press.

Proyecto Latina venue sponsor for July 2010.