Thursday, December 09, 2010

Innovative Engaging Online Experiences

Once again, the Latino Virtual Museum stuns us with its online feed of machinima videos. If you missed this year's Dia de los Muertos Festival, or if you would like to revisit the virtual spaces,
take a trip to see the machinima collection:

The Latino Virtual Museum interactive is designed to be, well, interactive. There's plenty of information here for educators, students, writers and museum enthusiasts. The site is updated regularly with art, music and literary videos.

Speaking of literary, LVM is partnering with writers, poets and community literary groups to bring and promote the best of our cultura and palabras in the virtual world. LVM is planning future in-world writing workshops, poetry readings, performances and interviews with Latino writers from across the globe. We invite you to visit with us again. In the meantime, enjoy lvminteractive. org.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dia de los Muertos Festival Starts Tomorrow

Join us for the 2010 Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum’s 2nd Annual
Día de los Muertos Festival in Second Life

Join us…in celebrating and exploring Latino cultural heritage through this holiday for honoring the dead and the cycle of life and death. Learn different aspects of Día de los Muertos and how it is celebrated and practiced.

Check out our machinima video:

Visit us at:
















Monday, October 25, 2010

Dia de los Muertos Literary Series: Poem by Selfa Chew


No esperaré a que tu cuerpo se deshoje
Para beber el café de tus cabellos
Los cinco años y el asombro que llevabas
Como un vestido de fiesta hasta mi casa.
Te sobreviven la ciudad azteca,
Los indios, las selvas tejidas por tus sueños
En que la raza de tus padres te llamaba
Hija del sol
Gajito de obsidiana
Quetzal precioso y corazón de jade.
Como un pedazo de azulejo entre los dedos
Jugaste con la estrella de tu muerte
En calles de letras y colores
Que anunciaban la vida del destino.
Te sobrevive la ciudad del frío
Mirar obsceno de Los Angeles sin prisa,
Entre edificios guardando los tatuajes
De brazos tensos amantes de amapolas.
Te sobreviven también las prostitutas,
Las agujas en las venas,
Un cuarto de hotel
Y la escalera en que dormías.

Copyright Selfa Chew, 2010

Selfa Chew
has published two books: "Mudas Las Garzas" and 'Azogue En La Raiz". Her articles, poems, plays, and translations have been published in Holland, Argentina, Spain, Peru, Mexico, and the United States. Selfa coordinates the Contemporary Mexican Literature Conference and the Contemporary Mexican Literature Journal and is a member of the editorial board of the literary review BorderSenses.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dia de los Muertos Literary Series: Three Poems by Richard Vargas


i saw my grandmother hold out
her hand cupping a small offering
of seed to one of the wild sparrows
that frequented the bird bath she
filled with fresh water everyday

she stood still
maybe stopped breathing
while the sparrow looked
at her, then the seed
then back as if he was
judging her character

he jumped into her hand
began to eat
she smiled

a woman holding
a small god


it was unlike any birthday
gift you ever gave me
"The Golden Press Illustrated
Gulliver's Travels"

the story of an odd man
destined to be the stranger
an observer always on
the outside looking in

it was as if you were
presenting me with a guide
as if you knew how my
life was going to turn out
twenty-three days later
you left for good trading me in
for one last sting of the needle
a sweet dream that never ends

every father's day i sit down
with the book on my lap
open it and hear your voice
rub my fingers lightly over
and over your inscription
like a blind man
wishing for more

WEDDING POEM (for lily and chris)

so this is what it's come down to
after the invites are mailed and
the colors are picked and the brides-
maids cringe at the dresses they
have to wear but with the understanding
the only one that counts is the bride
as she walks down the aisle classy
like a Princess Diana with just a touch
of sultry Marilyn Monroe

the groom basically shows up
in his rented tux and shiny black shoes
tries to stay loose and not keel
over which sometimes is the
most important job of the day
love is pledged and "I do" is said
then a kiss to seal the deal
to loud and approving applause

it's on to the reception as spoons
tap on glasses and the couple's
first dance ever as mr and mrs
the cake is cut and bets are made
will they be civil about it or shove it
down each other's throat
the bride shows some leg as
the garter is slid down her shapely
calf and the single men jostle for
position like basketball players
during an inbound pass
then the ladies take the floor
leaping into the air like NFL
receivers making an end zone catch
coming down with the bouquet
doing the "I'm next" victory dance
later the DJ plays "respect"
and "what I like about you"
as everyone on the dance floor
is laughing and sweating because
today is for being happy

being happy with the hope that
man and woman can still share
their dreams and stand together
against the odds while making it in
a world that gets crazier
every time we turn on the
evening news

so tonight when we lie down in
our beds the joy we witnessed today
will take root and tomorrow
blossom with the realization

that there is still enough love
to go around for the rest of us

Copyright Richard Vargas, 2010

Richard Vargas was born and raised in California. He graduated from Cal State Univ., Long Beach. He is the publisher of the "Tequila Review" (1978-80), and the author of "McLife" (Main Street Rag Press, 2005), and "American Jesus"(Tia Chucha Press,2007). He is editor/publisher of "The Mas Tequila Review", and will be receiving his MFA in December 2010 from the University of New Mexico. To contact the author, email to:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dia de los Muertos Literary Series: Two Poems by Carolina Monsiváis


“Si tú mueres primero, yo te prometo,

te escribire la historia de nuestro amor...

-Benito de Jesus "Nuestro Juramento"

I believed the act of cremation
softened bones to dust.
I never imagined the person
whose job it is to pound
what heat doesn't dissolve.

I needed to believe
that what the body endures
in life ends with death.

But I know there are laws
to protect the dead, rituals
by candlelight to guide
the dead.

I prepare to fight for my lover's body
keep it from being drained, hollowed,
filled with sick-smelling liquid.
I flinch at the thought of his bones
smashed and scattered to ash.

But at least I can write our story.

Unlike my tio, his place unmarked,
no stone cradles his name.
Not even a document. "Asi
lo queria," my tias remind me.
"He just wanted to be with his mama."

My tias who carried Tio Ramon's ashes
cupped in their hands
to spill inside a hole
dug up at the foot of our nana's grave
by the boy who cared for him last.

Ramon didn't want anyone
to walk by and point,
know his real age.
Each year, over copas de coñac,

he'd declare his age reduced,
so that by the time he died
he was younger
than his younger sister.

His story
is of the first man he loved.
One nobody in my family
wants to remember.

What of his story written within
marrow? Who will read what love
dejo caer onto their skin?

The pact between them
sin tinta sangre unspoken
became a joke. His story strung
to laughter is retold and retold
not as a song
but a chisme.

para Liz

Your mother unhooked our framed collage
from a wall in your bedroom where rented

movies--titles peering--are scattered next
to books stacked. Hand painted strips of cloth

mark pages you read last. Your laptop mute
battery drained, sits sealed shut. Your latest

project, jewelry tangled and discarded, crushed
onto crosses, waits for your return. Less than

six years ago, the three of us-- you, me and Letty,
worked on the collage your mother passes on.

We sat around your table gathering pictures
from the previous ten years. Among them, included

the man who occupied four years trailed by two,
gutted by guilt. Ready to end my self-inflicted

punishment, I released his pictures
and his letters including the one he

left on the refrigerator before he left,
where he wrote "no one will love you

the way you are the way I did". Something
I prayed to be true. Letty sliced him from

the pictures only I remained, year after year
a single image you and Letty surrounded.

You burned his letters within cinderblock
stacked in your backyard. Smoke tangled

itself into the factory's dim light that slipped
over your fence. You held your camera up

to capture smoke and light weaving into each
other. Before it engulfed you completely.

Copyright 2010, Carolina Monsiváis

Carolina Monsiváis is a recipient of the Premio PoesiaTejana for her book, "Somewhere Between Houston and El Paso," and a winner of the Nuestra Voz for her collection "Elisa's Hunger"(Mouthfeel Press, 2010). Her work has been anthologized in "Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry", "Literary El Paso", and "U.S. Latino Literature Today". The author lives and teaches in El Paso, Texas.

Monday, October 11, 2010

First in our Dia de los Muertos Literary Series: Poems by Amalio Madueño


I thank my dead abuelitas while driving
Thank them both when alone on the highway
When I sense their care in snowshreds
Streaking an iced arroyo, their cold observance
From a feathered ridgeline of dormant encino
Their admonition in distant windshield flash
When the grasp at emptiness becomes a feast
When the solution of dream’s puzzle makes me smile
In small roadside confessions I thank them
Watching over me and my skimpy prayers


No maps to celebrity graves here
Heaven is a wisp of cloud in high blue
What stays: frayed Norteño Catholic trinkets
Metate stone too heavy to carry anymore
Ojas, red plastic flowers left
By Sunday’s devout – remnants of early winter
Luminarias, matachine fringe, icons, solstice

Day moon above Truchas cools the llano
Honing seeds, sliding easily behind
Headstone wind shaking weed whips
Hardened species settle scores: ocate,
Osha, white sage, ocotillo
While in the earthen chapel Guadalupe,
Sedate in her nicho
Scares up spirits from the aisles


on your way across Pima County’s basin & range
you tread through the home of the devil fish
you’ve heard of its uniqueness & believe its
2 inch tenacious silver chubby spined body
& “superior” mouth with tricuspid teeth can stand
Quitobaquito warmspring’s triple ocean salt
you can’t see him until you step on him
buried in the mud the little devil feels your toe
& reads your beating heart you must go
way across Sonoita Flats & the organ pipes
to see his orange-red tail-flash
he can’t trip you or swallow you up he is
that extra thing dormant in the muddy ooze
of the Gila & Santa Cruz as Spring approaches
the little carajo becomes an iridescent blue
& yellow Diablo waiting for you down below

Copyright 2010

Amalio Madueño is a poet from New Mexico and author of "Lost in the Chamiso" (Wild Embers, 2009) and co-authored of "Taos Poetry Circus: The 90s" (Pennwhistle Press, 1999).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Latino Virtual Museum Launches Second Annual Dia de lo Muertos Festival in Second Life

Experience Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, festivities in Second Life as the Latino Virtual Museum celebrates its second annual Dia de los Muertos Festival. The festival begins Friday, October 29 through Tuesday, November 2. To partake of this celebration, you will need an avatar. Click on the sidebar link GET YOUR AVATAR HERE.

Dia de los Muertos is a cultural celebration stemming from the blending of pre-Hispanic and Spanish customs, and it is celebrated throughout Latin America. This celebration is a day to honor and remember those who have passed on. It is both a time of mourning and happiness, and a time to celebrate life and death. If you want to learn more about this celebration, click the Dia de los Muertos sidebar banner and it will take you directly to the event page, or visit and follow the links.

One of the highlights of the festival will include a "The Day of the Dead Ballgame Tournament", sponsored by the Walt Disney Company. The ballgame is based on the first organized Mesoamerican sport played almost 3,000 years ago! The game is played almost like soccer but instead of using the feet to kick the ball, players use their hips. Now, imagine playing this game in Second Life. Well, you can. Drop us a line at, and we will be happy to sign you up and your team!

Here is a list of the Dia de los Muertos event line-up:

Featured performance of poetry and music by Rincon Bohemio, from El Paso, Texas

Children's storytelling time and workshops for schools, with artist and musician Nancy Lorenza Green

Dia de los Muertos community ofrenda in LVM's virtual cemetery

Featured artist interview with Cesar Ivan

University of Notre Dame takes on the Smithsonian Latino Center in a meso-ball game tournament of life and death at the Ballcourt of the Sun

Opening procession featuring live Aztec ritual-blessing

Virtual Poetry Reading with poets from across the U.S.

Interview and featured concert with Lila Downs

Community ofrenda in Virtual Native Lands in Second Life

Skull Dance Party with live DJ

And more...