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The Cha Cha Files: A Chapina Poética Now Available!

June 9, 2014
cover art by Rio Yañez and Yolanda López

cover art by Rio Yañez and Yolanda López

Available Now!

Bay area Guatemalan-American cultural worker, educator and poet Maya Chinchilla celebrates her cultural and political muses in her long awaited debut book of poetry and stories.

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Book Description:
The Cha Cha Files: A Chapina Poetica is a timely debut by Maya Chinchilla that makes visible the Central American-Guatemalan diaspora and disentangles the myths from the mayhem of civil wars, urban wars, and the wars raging in young hearts. Part memory, part queer imaginary, the Cha Cha Files honors Central American feministas, Long Beach roqueras, families divided by war, lovers separated by borders, and celebrates the pleasure and heartbreak of femmes, machas, y mariconadas. These poems, stories, and snapshots traverse California coastlines and southern borderlines, cut across tense multi-culti high-school hallways, sing Solidarity Movement songs, mosh through tribal slam pits, and find home in the vibrant Bay Area where radical activists and lovers alike come of age. Chinchilla’s hopeful and uniquely Chapina voice emerges as a significant contribution to U.S. Latina literary works.

Advanced praise:
“Here is a shifting memoir, a futurized holographic lexicon of multi-Guatemalas, a “rough” Now-edged literary explosión from the center of a Chinchilla-Centro-América. A refigured California, Borinquen, Caribe floating, flayed and frayed and fractal slivers of faces, bodies, intimacies, word flow encycloGuatepedia in volcanic rupture, out and “under the Huipil,” ripped and dressed up herstory-skirts, skin, skinless, that is, Latina, Queer, borderless Letters – Maya’s undulating “third eye.” It is all a ferocious seeing motion – deep knowledge, open diary, activist journal, a burning vermillion life-scape over Kahlo’s bed, Anzaldúa’s unloosened workshop, María Sabina’s black splattered visions, a Golden Gate bridgless. A first of its kind – Brava, bravissima, GuateBrava power. A game changer.”
– Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of California

“Maya Chinchilla’s collection documents and dialogues with identity, home, remembering, and belonging in a syncopated dream language. You don’t know whether to surrender to its perfect lyricism or pour meticulously over every word contemplating the layered meaning in the metaphors and memories. She writes with vulnerability and intention on the politics and inestimable complexities of Latinidad and indigenismo, queerness, gender, borders, and love. Finally, her work is a call to action to those whose stories remain untold: “Unless we document ourselves we are invisible!”
-Virgie Tovar, author of Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion

“The Cha Cha Files is a powerful testament of the beauty that is to be a Queer Central American. In her collection Maya gifts us a beautiful tapestry of her journey.”
-Yosimar Reyes, author, For Colored Boys Who Speak Softly

“Maya Chinchilla’s The Cha Cha Files is the queer Guatemalteca femme anthem and diary we have been waiting for. I love the way she meticulously documents and hopscotches through these precious, needed moments of queer brown girl memory, history and body.The Cha Cha Files captures the graceful power of Chinchilla’s performance and poetics with deft telling of these autohistorias on the page.”

-Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, co-editor, The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence In Activist

Communities (South End, 2011); author, Love Cake (TSAR 2011).
“The Cha Cha Files: A Chapina Poética vividly documents, from multiple perspectives and positionalities, the experiences of forging and affirming new identities in the United States. Maya Chinchilla’s cutting-edge Chapina poética eloquently and richly tells the varied histories, realities, dreams and desires of U.S. Central Americans. The Cha Cha Files is a must read!”

 –Alicia Ivonne Estrada, Associate Professor of Chicana/o Studies, California State University, Northridge.


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