Alma Luz Villanueva



I love this cover, symbolizes the impossible painting Rosa is trying to paint...the shawl that's placed on the shoulders of the Earth. Doubleday republished SKY, with a lovely cover.

My second novel- cover painted by Carmen Leon.

The book cover painting is by Carmen Leon- she also paints wonderful murals in Watsonville, Califas.

Works

SONG OF THE GOLDEN SCORPION, novel- and GRACIAS, poetry.
SONG OF THE GOLDEN SCORPION, my fourth novel, can be found on www.wingspress.com- as well as my new book of poetry, GRACIAS. The novel is now posted on my publisher's site, and the book of poetry will post in November. Go to Wings Press for a full description of the novel, and to see the beautiful art work/cover by the Chilean painter, Liliana Wilson. Scroll down to the LINK, direct route, to the novel.


SOFT CHAOS
I read the term 'soft chaos' after 9/11/01...that 'hard chaos' would be the state of the world during a terrorist attack, and 'soft chaos' would be the state of the world during a lull, a time of 'peace.' Yet while the 'liberation of Iraq' continues, their civillian death toll continues to climb- as well as our own young soldiers- soft chaos/hard chaos blur. These are the themes of this collection of poetry, as well as the appearance of love in its many guises which ultimately keep us all alive. As the wonderful poet, Rumi, says/writes (in THE ESSENTIAL RUMI)...
'When one of us gets lost, is not here, he must be inside us.
There's no place like that anywhere in the world.'
From, 'There's Nothing Ahead,' pg 205
Lately I've been writing a series of poems inspired by Rumi...for the next collection, gracias Rumi.

VIDA
This is my sixth book of poetry, with a total of 200 pages- and the 'Dear World' poems continue, as well as new poetry from the journey. As these poems were written, my youngest son was leaving home to attend university...I have four children and had been a daily mom for 40 years, believe it or not. So, many of the poems are to my grown children, what they taught me, what I taught them, what we taught each other. This is a collection that includes family, old friends, old lovers, ex-husbands, and a poem to Matthew Shepard in the Dear World, October 21, 1996 poem. In one of the final poems in the collection, HUMAN KINDNESS (and thanks to an L.A. license plate, O LOTUS)...
I let the next 1,000
years devour me, whole-
O LOTUS of our
human kindess, human kindness.

DESIRE
This is my fifth book of poetry with a total of 171 pages- and my 'Dear World' poems began in this collection. The first one is dated January 10, 1994, so the Dear World series is over ten years old, and it speaks directly to the world, Dear World...it speaks from the personal to the political (is there a difference?), from my experience as a woman to the experience of a woman in Bosnia during the genocide in the 1990s, to the children of Rwanda, Latin America, the genocide in Tibet carried out by the invading Chinese government, to a message from a comet named Hyakutake which comes close to our planet every 18,400 years (as it did in 1996). Hyakutake's message in the poem: "Leap of faith, one planet, leap/of faith, one people." This planet/floating through the stars, comets/coming home to sing to the Turtles:/
"Cross the terrible, icy glaciers,
the human heart, leap."
(This poem republished in PRAYERS FOR A THOUSAND YEARS, Inspiration From Leaders & Visionaries Around The World...a wonderful anthology.)

PLANET with MOTHER, MAY I?
This is my fourth book of poetry, and it won the Latin American Writer's Institute Award, New York City, in 1994. The first 84 pages contain new poetry, and pages 87-123 contain my long, narrative poem, Mother, May I? which was published about four years prior to PLANET. Mother, May I? was translated into Dutch, French and Spanish, and with my permission it was treated as a theatre piece, traveling throughout Europe. From SASSY, a poem in the collection:
I love myself when I want/everything- when I know/everything in my self,in/my own heart. The world does/not condone this, this kind/of knowing...She, the Goddess, isn't pleased/or displeased-she's been expecting/you forever. She knows what
you had
to do
to love
your
self.

WEEPING WOMAN, LA LLORONA AND OTHER STORIES
After writing my second novel, NAKED LADIES, I felt I was mourning the end of a long journey with the characters...there was no one else to 'talk to' via the fictive dream. In my wanderings, I stopped by the local second hand shop in Santa Cruz, California, where I lived at the time, right by la mar where I walked daily. I picked up a battered box and it rattled, opened it up to see a mix of broken yet beautiful sea shells. I paid 50cents and brought it home...the following morning as I began a poem, I literally SAW a woman coming toward me, weeping. The stories began, and each story is connected by a sea shell, the gift of La Llorona.

THE ULTRAVIOLET SKY
In the novel, Rosa is a painter who tries to paint a particular purple/lilac in one of her key paintings (central to the novel), only to find it's not on the human spectrum... the ultraviolet sky. She and the other characters that appear, as the stories unfold, are trying to paint their own skies/visions of the world they live in- ultimately, the journey of becoming fully human. Rosa moves to the Sierras from the San Francisco Bay Area, not knowing she's pregnant with her second child (just separated from her husband); but she refuses to return to 'safety,'
she has a painting to complete, a vision to finally see in her late thirties.
When I started this novel, my first novel, I tried to give Rosa three children and other requirements that I 'the author' felt she had to have. On page 50 or so, she and the other characters walked out on me, so when I sat down to write there was absolutely nothing, nada. After a week or so, I assumed I'd failed, that writing a novel wasn't for me. During that time I was living in Santa Cruz, Califas, and walked by the ocean daily (crying, in mourning, nada).
One morning as I was washing my hair, not thinking of the novel at all...I had surrendered to my 'failure'... Rosa literally appeared right in front of me, telling me, "Take it or leave it" (she was wearing a great outfit, purple boots). So, I took it, and she walked right into me. She only had one child, a teenage son, and I began to write the novel, but first I had to surrender my big fat ego in order to see/hear who the characters truly were.
After I completed the novel and it was accepted for publication, I came across an article by John Gardner, in which he wrote about the 'fictive dream.' Since I was raised by my Yaqui grandmother and was trained in 'dreaming,' I thought I'd had a unique dreaming/writing experience; but apparently, I'd had a writer's experience. And every novel I've written thus far has had a similar gateway I must pass through, when the characters stand up to me...then I know it's coming to life. Read Gardner's BECOMING A NOVELIST- also, WRITERS DREAMING, an anthology of authors writing about this 'weird experience,' each in their own way.

NAKED LADIES
This novel is a weaving of women's stories which includes straight women, bisexual women, gay women- as well as men from the spectrum of human diversity. Naked Ladies are a flower that blooms in the fall in northern California where I once owned and ran a beautiful, fertile farm- and where I began to write in the late 1970s (with my first three children and two step-children). The opening scene of NAKED LADIES actually did happen... the scene that drew me into the fictive dream... I ran over a mugger who was dragging a woman, holding a baby in her arms, down the street (in San Francisco). She and I would become best friends, and years later from this real life event would spring the full blown fictive dream of this novel.

LUNA'S CALIFORNIA POPPIES
I tried writing this novel in third person omniscient voice numerous times up to about page eighty or so, and each time the main character, Luna, would refuse to go further. She wanted it to be written in the first person voice, in her own twelve-year-old's voice. I kept resisting, as my first two novels were in the third person, but eventually (and obviously), Luna won. She tells the story of her life, in the first part, in the voice of a twelve-year-old; and she made me laugh more than she made me cry. She came to life. In the second part, her voice is still first person but in her late twenties, and her three children join her on a farm in northern California, where they're greeted by a cross burning (during the 1970s).

Selected Works

Novel/poetry, The Twins
Please scroll down this column for the direct route to my publisher, gracias.
Poetry
"Written with the urgency of dreams and the courage to face whatever life brings, the poems in SOFT CHAOS cast a spell that chants mystery back into our world, revealing the fierce and tender love that has always been here. To open this book is to enter a vision where even the dust is sacred, where life's endless spiral of beauty and wonder dances in your bones, dances against the forces that would tear them to pieces, dances la vida, and survives." Peter Levitt, author of WITHIN WITHIN.
"The poetry of Alma Luz Villanueva, like her prose, is drawn from the gut, her womb, and a vital point in an intelligent woman's mind. She always speaks from the heart. She delivers to the reader the offerings of a whole human being. She sings, she rages, she lets us know that above all, the poet is a mirror to our own inner triumphs and failures." Ana Castillo, author of SO FAR FROM GOD
"This riveting volume full of lingering images and provocative, personal and political moments opens my heart and aligns me with the powerful feminine forces that continue to surge through Ms. Villanueva's writing. Her transformational journey becomes my journey. She speaks from the heart and reaches the heart." Burleigh Muten, author of RETURN OF THE GREAT GODDESS
POETRY
"What I still most enjoy about Villanueva's poetry, aside from the strength of her images and the way they convey her inner life, is her voice. That voice is confident, direct, unflinching, intimate." Marie-Elise Wheatwind, from The Women's Review of Books, May 1994.
Fiction, short story collection
"LA LLORONA, the weeping woman, walks through the pages of this book as a spirit guide, someone unto whom other's sorrows flow...Villanueva shows the power of the human spirit in this disturbing and beautiful book." Library Journal, March 1, 1994.
Novels
"Villanueva's ultraviolet sky is overhead for all of us."
--Kathryn Trueblood, The Before Columbus Foundation Fiction Anthology.
"One of the most inspiring elements of this novel is the wonderful portrayal of strong women."
--Veronica Chambers, Los Angeles Times, 1994.
"Holden Caulfied meets Anne Frank in this compelling coming-of-age novel."
--Library Journal, May 2002