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Monday, October 23, 2006

Three Events at Two Texas Book Festivals

Off to Texas for two book festivals--- the first ever Southwest Writers & Arts Festival at Texas A & M University and Austin's venerable Texas Book Festival. I'll be reading, signing and discussing my new anthology of Mexican writing, Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion. At Texas A & M I'll be reading Oct 26th from 4-5:30, and at Austin's Texas Book Festival, I'll be doing a panel in Spanish Oct 28th from 2-3 pm ("Todo sobre mi Mexico: Impresiones Literarias"), and another in English Oct 29th from 12:30-1:30 ("Mexico in Mind: Literary Impressions of a Distant Neighbor.") Details of the schedule are here. Events are free and open to the public, so if you're in the neighborhood, come on by. Back blogging next week.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

World Hum: The Speed of Rancho Santa Ines

The saying goes: Bad roads, good people. Good roads, bad people. On a sleepy Mexican ranch, C.M. Mayo finds out what the Transpeninsular Highway brought to one stretch of Baja California.

World Hum: Travel Dispatches for a Shrinking Planet has just posted "The Speed of Rancho Santa Ines," an excerpt from Miraculous Air. This excerpt also appears in Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion.

Jim Benning, you rock.

Catherine Mansell Carstens: Las nuevas finanzas en Mexico and Las finanzas populares en Mexico

Las nuevas finanzas en México (Editorial Milenio / ITAM / IMEF) se publicó en 1992;

Las finanzas populares en México (Editorial Milenio / ITAM / CEMLA) en 1995.

Published in 1992 and 1995 respectively. Both are still in print and available from Editorial Milenio in Mexico City.

See the website

Para la nota biográfica de Catherine Mansell Carstens, haga clic aquí.

Cadena's "Lady of the Seas" in Robert Giron's ArLiJo

Arlington, Virginia-based poet, literary translator and Gival Press publisher Robert Giron has started a new on-line literary journal: ArLiJo and the current issue, I'm delighted to note, features my translation of Mexican writer Agustin Cadena's short story "Lady of the Seas." This beautiful story appears in Cadena's new collection, Los pobres de espiritu, which won Mexico's San Luis Potosi Award. (My translation of this story first appeared in the bilingual New York City and Madrid-based journal Terra Incognita. It's also in my anthology of Mexican fiction and literary prose, Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion.)

Madam Mayo's Tower o' Reading

The pile just got a little smaller. Just finished--- and highly recommend--- Douwe Draaisma's Why Life Speeds Up as You Get Older: How Memory Shapes Our Past; Francine Prose's Reading Like a Writer (and click here for other books for writers); Bob Woodward's State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III. Am in the midst of Erika Pani's El Segundo Imperio. Just started Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres. Not to mention the many manuscripts to read for Tameme's Chapbook / Cuaderno #2 (#1, a short story by Mexican writer and poet Agustin Cadena, is in production). Best place to read: the cafeteria by the fountain in the National Gallery. And the tuna sandwich is pretty good.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Momotombo Press's Chapbook Show-Time at the National Writers Union

Just back from Francisco Aragon's fascinating talk on small publishing at the Washington DC National Writer's Union. I've long been an admirer of his Momotombo Press and the gorgeous chapbooks of Latino Literature that he's been bringing out from Momotombo's new home at Notre Dame University. (The Momotombo Press chapbooks were the inspiration for Tameme's new format-- the first Tameme chapbook, a short story by Mexican writer Agustin Cadena, is currently in production.) I hadn't realized that Momotombo itself was inspired by Gary Soto and Lorna Dee Cervantes's Chicano Chapbook Series-- which published, among other poets, Jimmy Santiago Baca and Sandra Cisneros. Aragon brought an astonishing variety of chapbooks to show--- some self-published, some very beautifully produced, some put together with Scotch tape, (beautiful, too, in their humble way). There was also a self-published chapbook by Uraoyan Noel that had a cover made out of those plastic anti-skid thingies that go under car carpets (what is the word for that?!)-- and the epigraph was by Cher. It was an education. Poet and activist Sarah Browning hosted; and DC's own Poetry Goddess Kim Roberts offered delectable morsels of advice, including reminding me to check out Beltway's gargantuan Resource Bank. Gracias all! (Now... I'm going to get out some scissors and glue and make a chapbook out of "The Building of Quality.")

January Writing Workshop in Coyoacan

I'm going to be offering a one-day writing workshop in English in Coyoacan (Mexico City) this January. More anon.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference in Rockville MD

Well, I missed the tour out to see F. Scott Fitzgerald's gravesite, but as it's a short walk from Washington DC's red-line metro stop, I suppose it will be easy to do another time (hmmm... what shall I bring?) At yesterday's F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference I gave the travel writing workshop--- we "traveled" to the class room, and found it quite as exotic as a Persian spice shop. Also had a chance to hang out with Richard Peabody, Robert Giron, Anne Levy, Jessica Seigel, Ellen Braaf, Michael Olmert, Katharine (Kitty) Davis (who tells me her new novel, Capturing Paris has just gone into a third printing!!) antiquarian bookdealer Charles Burroughs (Stepladder Books), and editor of the Potomac Review, Julie Wakeman-Linn, who was working hard to make it all happen. Well worth waiting for was the last event of the conference: Jane Smiley's lecture on the novel. Since last year, I have been slowly savoring and re-reading her magnificent 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel. She called Fitzgerald a kind of "good uncle" to us all. A lovely thought.

By the way, I'm giving another travel writing workshop in November at the Writers Center (Bethesda MD). Some of the reading lists are here. Also, 365 five minute writing exercises--- all very handy for literary travel writers--- are here.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Malvina Shankin Harlan's Some Memories of a Long Life

A lot of people have been asking me how my novel (set in Washington DC, Mexico City and Paris in the 1860s) is going. Good. Very good, actually. Part of the writing process is not writing, however, but reading. Recently I've been going through Malvina Shankin Harlan's Some Memories of a Long Life, 1854-1911, a sweet and surprisingly moving memoir by the wife of Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan. I also love her language. Here are a few of the curious words and phrases she uses:
unspeakable calamity;
my fixed purpose;
to vanish like dew before the sun;
laughing in their sleeves;
a trifle unwise and hasty;
he was my oracle;
uproarious Jehu;
I double-knotted my purse strings;
garments (so-called) of such gauzy texture as to suggest nothing more than a butterfly's wing.

I suppose some of these were cliches of the time. To my ears they sound strange.

Smackdown in Tijuana

Over at World Hum: Travel Dispatches from a Shrinking Planet, Jim Benning has a new piece up about la lucha. (And what does Madam Mayo have to say about that Jack Black movie? Click here.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

On a Roll--- New Review of Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion Over at Chez Robert Giron

A very nice review of Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion over at Chez Robert Giron, Robert Giron's blog. I'm especially honored because Robert is not only a distinguished poet and publisher; he's also a translator himself. In fact, he translated a beautiful book of poems by Jesus Gardea, Songs for a Single String. (Jesus Gardea's short story, "According to Evaristo", a short story set in the state of Chihuahua, translated by Mark Schafer, appears in Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion.)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

First Zyzzyva, Now UGA

The other day I noted that Zyzzyva, the California-based literary magazine, has a blog. Now one of my publishers, the University of Georgia Press, has started one. I'm already thinking of starting one for Tameme... but that one will have to be run by an intern. What with blogging here and blogging for ALTALK (the blog of the American Literary Translators Association), I'm getting "blogged out." Happy blogging to y'all.

Monday, October 09, 2006

With Mexican Writer Araceli Ardon In Queretaro's Casa de la Marquesa

C'est moi and writer Araceli Ardon, at the Casa de la Marquesa, after our book presentation (Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion) at the Museo de Arte de Queretaro. Araceli Ardon read my translation of her short story, "It is Nothing of Mine," which is set in Queretaro. (Click here to read her story on the National Public Radio website.) She's the author of two books: the novel Historias intimas de la casa de Don Eulogio and--- hot off the presses--- a collection of stories set in Queretaro, El arzobispo de gorro azul.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Maximilian in Queretaro

I've updated my Maximilian page with a few photos from a recent visit to Queretaro. A lot of people have been asking about how the novel is going... very well. It's turning into a 600-pager... I'm nearing the last couple of chapters, trying to unravel what General Almonte was up to.. And I'm happy to report that it looks like my essay, "From Mexico to Miramar or, Across the Lake of Oblivion" will finally be coming out in the Masschusetts Review this December. More anon.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Pugs Rule

"Chilling evidence of the Pug Revolution, this was the last picture taken by a French Journalist who did not obey the Pug dog."

Tres triste. Thanks to Alice, we now know where to get our bumperstickers.

C.M. Mayo's Literary Travel Writing Workshop at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference

The F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference in Rockville MD is coming up. October 14th I'm giving the literary travel writing workshop. Click here for the conference brochure. Some of the other writers: Jane Smiley, A. Scott Berg, Michael Dirda, Richard Peabody, Kitty Davis, and Patricia Elam.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Dose o' Backbone

Feeling whiney? Daniel Olivas, writer, blogger, attorney & etc., has the cure. Yowza.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Yvette Neisser Moreno at the Writers Center, Starting October 14th

Poet and literary translator Yvette Neisser Moreno is offering a literary translation workshop at the Writers Center in Bethesda MD (just outside DC). This is a very special opportunity as workshops in literary translation are so rarely offered. Here's the boilerplate:
The Art of Literary Translation: Spanish to English
6 Saturdays, 2 to 4:30 p.m., October 14 through November 18 At The Writer’s Center, 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD 20815 Tuition: $210 ($190 for Writer’s Center members)

This workshop is designed for creative writers who want to explore the exciting, mysterious art of literary translation. No previous translation experience is necessary; however, participants should have experience writing either poetry or creative prose in English (and have strong knowledge of Spanish). By examining different translations of sample texts, doing in-class exercises and experimenting with our own translations, we will discuss the myriad questions that a literary translator faces, such as word choice, sentence structure, tone, rhythm, and sound. Discover how the creative process of translation can enhance your skills as a writer and stimulate your own writing.

Workshop Leader: Yvette Neisser Moreno is a poet, translator, writer and editor. Her poems and translations of poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous magazines and anthologies, including the Innisfree Poetry Journal, The International Poetry Review, and The Potomac Review.

For more information and to register visit

Monday, October 02, 2006

Seen in Georgetown, DC

Tonight while walking by the Bacchus Wine Cellar at 1635 Wisconsin Ave NW, Madam Mayo spotted a little placard in that window:


Hugo "El Diablo" Chavez

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Madam Mayo Says Ciao to the Daily 5

On October 1, 2005, I began posting a daily 5 minute writing exercise. All 365 are now on-line. Most are my own; a few were provided by friends, among them, Leslie Pietrzyk, Lisa Couturier, Dan Olivas, Basil White, Mary Kay Zuravleff, and many others. Help yourself. I hope the exercises are both fun and useful.