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Argueta, Jorge

Argueta, Jorge

Personal

Born in El Salvador; immigrated to United States, 1980; partner of Teresa Kennett (a poet); children: Luna.

Addresses

Home—San Francisco, CA. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Poet, lecturer, and activist. Worked variously as a gardener and in a coffeehouse.

Awards, Honors

Américas Award, 2001, and Skipping Stones Honor Award and Independent Publishers Book Award, all for A Movie in My Pillow/Una película en mi almohada; named San Francisco Library laureate, 2002; Américas Award commended designation, 2003, for Xochitl and the Flowers/Xóchitl, la niña de las flores; NAPA Gold Medal, 2006, for Moony Luna/Luna, Lunita Lunera; Americas Award commended designation, 2007, and Lion and the Unicorn honor, both for Talking with Mother Earth: Poems/Hablando con Madre Tierra and The Fiesta of the Tortillas/La fiesta de las tortillas; three-time winner of San Francisco Biannual Poetry Award.

Writings

FOR CHILDREN

A Movie in My Pillow/Una película en mi almohada (bilingual), illustrated by Elizabeth Gómez, Children's Book Press (San Francisco, CA), 2001.

El Zipitio, illustrated by Gloria Calderón, Groundwood Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2003, translated by Elisa Amado as Zipitio, 2003.

Los arboles estan colgando del cielo, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng, Groundwood Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2003, translated by Elisa Amado as Trees Are Hanging from the Sky, 2003.

Xochitl and the Flowers/Xóchitl, la niña de las flores (bilingual), illustrated by Carl Angel, Children's Book Press (San Francisco, CA), 2003.

(Translator) Rigoberto González, Soledad Sigh-Sighs/Soledad suspiros (bilingual), illustrated by Rosa Ibarra, Children's Book Press (San Francisco, CA), 2003.

Moony Luna/Luna, Lunita Lunera (bilingual), illustrated by Elizabeth Gómez, Children's Book Press (San Francisco, CA), 2005.

(Translator) Rigoberto González, Antonio's Card/La tarjeta de Antonio (bilingual), illustrated by Cecilia Concepción Alvarez, Children's Book Press (San Francisco, CA), 2005.

The Best Match, Hampton, 2005.

The Fiesta of the Tortillas/La fiesta de las tortillas (bilingual), illustrated by María Jesus Alvarez, Alfaguara (Miami, FL), 2006.

The Little Hen in the City/La gallinita en la ciudad (bilingual), illustrated by Mima Castro, Alfaguara (Miami, FL), 2006.

Talking with Mother Earth: Poems/Hablando con Madre Tierra: poemas (bilingual), illustrated by Lucia Angela Pérez, Groundwood Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2006.

Alfredito Flies Home/Alfredito regresa volando a su casa, illustrated by Luis Garay, Groundwood Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2007.

POETRY; FOR ADULTS

Love Street (poems), translated by Margot Pepper, Tiki Bob Publishing (San Francisco, CA), 1991.

Corazon del barrio, 1994.

Also author of poetry chapbooks, including Poemas desnudos/Naked Poems, Luna's Press; (with Teresa Kennett) Pintando sombras/Painting Shadows, Luna's Press; Las frutas del centro y otros sabores/Fruit from the Center, and Other Flavors, Canterbury Press; Letania de amor y odio/Litany of Love and Hate, Luna's Press; De aqui alla/From Here to There, Luna's Press; La ciudad proxima al veraño/City Next to Summer, Luna's Press; El poeta enamorado/Poet in Love (audio recording); Del ocaso a la alborada/From Sundown to Dawn, and La puerta del diablo/The Devil's Gate, Poet's Press.

Sidelights

Jorge Argueta is a native of El Salvador and a Pipil Nahua Indian who immigrated to the United States as a teenager. An award-winning poet, he is also the author of several critically acclaimed bilingual picture books, including A Movie in My Pillow/Una película en mi almohada and Xochitl and the Flowers/Xóchitl, la niña de las flores. "There is a piece of El Salvador in everything I write," Argueta told an interviewer in Críticas, adding that his works "are not only my own stories but also the story of thousands of Salvadoran children who left their country during the civil war of the '80s." Although Argueta's poetry for adult readers reflects the hardships of his early life in El Salvador and as an immigrant in America, his work for young readers shares his memories of the feelings and experiences of encountering an unfamiliar culture and belonging to two countries.

A Movie in My Pillow/Una película en mi almohada, Argueta's first book for children, contains twenty-one poems written in both English and Spanish that recall his experiences growing up in both El Salvador and his adopted city of San Francisco, California. "The lines capture the pleasures and difficulties of living in each country," observed School Library Journal contributor Nina Lindsay, and Annie Ayres noted in Booklist that Agueta's volume "will add multicultural depth and historical authenticity to any poetry collection."

Based on a Latin-American folktale, Zipitio concerns an odd, lonely gnome with a pot belly and backward feet who falls in love with the local teenaged girls living near his home. When Rufina, a haunting beauty, first meets Zipitio along the riverbank, she is terrified and runs away. To comfort the young woman, Rufina's mother explains that the strange creature can be dismissed by tricking him. When Rufina meets Zipitio a second time, she asks him to prove his love by catching an ocean wave in a basket. According to Resource Links critic Ann Ketcheson, "Zipitio is more comical than frightening and we actually sympathize with him at the end when he leaves on his impossible assignment." In School Library Journal, Ann Welton described Argueta's tale as "well told and … a solid example of a female right of passage."

A youngster learns the value of community support in Xochitl and the Flowers/Xóchitl, la niña de las flores. After her family relocates from El Salvador to San Francisco, young Xochitl struggles to adjust to an urban environment. Meanwhile, her parents attempt to recreate the family's flower business, but are opposed by a quarrelsome apartment manager. When Xochitl's neighbors learn of the family's difficulties, they rally around the fledgling business. The author "infuses his work with Salvadoran culture, writing of life in poetic language," noted Julie Kline in Booklist, while a critic in Kirkus Reviews remarked that Argueta's "bilingual story embodies the belief that positive action can overcome the negatives of circumstance."

Inspired by the author's own daughter, Luna, Moony Luna/Luna, Lunita Lunera finds a five year old anxiously awaiting her first day of kindergarten. When Luna's mother reads her a story about a monster who

attends school, the girl's imagination runs wild, and she believes that a real monster lurks somewhere in her classroom. "The Spanish text … has a pleasing poetic structure and a comforting rhythm that will reassure young listeners," noted Booklist contributor Stella T. Clark.

Talking with Mother Earth: Poems/Hablando con Madre Tierra: Poemas, a collection of verse about Argueta's connection to nature, "stands out for its beauty and depth of expression," observed School Library Journal reviewer Maria Otero-Boisvert. Narrowing its focus to El Salvador, Argueta's The Fiesta of the Tortillas/La fiesta de las tortillas concerns an eatery visited by a supernatural being. The Little Hen in the City/La gallinita en la ciudad details a young girl's efforts to save a guinea hen, which she believes embodies the spirit of her grandfather. In both titles, noted El Paso Times contributor Rigoberto González, "a young protagonist is beginning to make important connections between self, family and the cultural imagination they [all] inhabit."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 1, 2001, Annie Ayres, review of A Movie in My Pillow/Una película en mi almohada, p. 31; December 1, 2003, Julie Kline, review of Xochitl and the Flowers/Xóchitl, la niña de las flores, p. 683; April 1, 2005, Stella T. Clark, review of Moony Luna/Luna, Lunita Lunera, p. 1364.

Childhood Education, fall, 2004, Bev Gitter, review of Zipitio, p. 46; winter, 2004, Paula Quintana, review of Xochitl and the Flowers/Xóchitl, la niña de las flores, p. 107.

Críticas, July 1, 2004, "Argueta's True Stories."

El Paso Times, May 28, 2006, Rigoberto González, "Not Your Average Children's Books: Argueta's New Stories Will Have Kids Thinking."

Instructor, November-December, 2001, Paul Janeczko, "Poetry Workshop: My Grandma's Stories," p. 36.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2003, review of Zipitio, p. 1220; July 1, 2003, review of Xochitl and the Flowers/Xóchitl, la niña de las flores, p. 906; March 15, 2005, review of Moony Luna/Luna, Lunita Lunera, p. 347.

Publishers Weekly, March 24, 2003, review of Trees Are Hanging from the Sky, p. 75.

Resource Links, October, 2003, Ann Ketcheson, review of Trees Are Hanging from the Sky, p. 2; February, 2004, Ann Ketcheson, review of Zipitio, p. 8.

School Library Journal, May, 2001, Nina Lindsay, review of A Movie in My Pillow/Una película en mi almohada, p. 139; November, 2003, Ann Welton, review of Zipitio, p. 122; December, 2003, Ann Welton, review of Xochitl and the Flowers/Xóchitl, la niña de las flores, p. 142; April, 2003, Gay Lynn Van Vleck, review of Trees Are Hanging from the Sky, p. 114; May, 2005, Ann Welton, review of Moony Luna/Luna, Lunita Lunera, p. 118; July, 2005, Coop Renner, review of Xochitl and the Flowers/Xóchitl, la niña de las flores, p. 43; October, 2006, Maria Otero-Boisvert, Talking with Mother Earth: Poems/Hablando con Madre Tierra: Poemas, p. 144.

ONLINE

Children's Book Press Web site,http://www.childrensbookpress.org/ (May 10, 2007), "Jorge Argueta."

Groundwood Books Web site,http://www.groundwoodbooks.com/ (May 10, 2007), "Jorge Argueta."

Jorge Argueta Home Page,http://www.jorgeargueta.com (May 10, 2007).

PaperTigers Web site,http://www.papertigers.org/ (February, 2004), Kathryn Olney, interview with Argueta.

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