(This is upsetting. Mostly because this is a form and no real specific editorial comment was given. And I used their submission form online and they want to know if they should return it or shred my email?–showing me there was not much thought to this email.)

Dear John Paul Jaramillo,

 Thank you for submitting your manuscript entitled Huerfanos to Arte Público Press. Unfortunately, your submission was not selected for publication.

 If you wish your materials returned to you, please send us a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) with the appropriate amount of postage.  If we do not receive your SASE within a month, we will shred and recycle all materials.

 We appreciate your interest in Arte Público Press.  Please feel free to submit other selections of your work for our consideration in the future.

 Nicolás Kanellos, Ph.D.

Research–the dash

I’ve been doing some research on the dash. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit and I really do hate thinking about grammar. Yes, I am that kind of writer. Playing more by ear is my thought, but I do teach and so I understand correctness is just as important as rhetoric. But I feel the dash is needed in fiction but when mostly academic non-fictive people read fiction I believe they perhaps criticize the twisting of some rules. Like Dr. Ede hating my use of dashes.

Anyway, this would be not quite breaking a rule or not tweaking a rule to serve the rhetorical situation. And I do tell my composition students never to use a fragment or a run-on for rhetorical effect knowing that it is fine and most of the creative non-fiction we study in COmp 112 utilizes run-ons and fragments. And the only answer I can give them is that these are not normally used in academic writing or literary analysis but fine in creative work. But of course I also argue that creative work is academic.

Anyway, here is a post from my favorite grammar site–the Guide to Grammar and Writing–and a site I link from my course sites.

The dash is a handy device, informal and esentially playful, telling you that you’re about to take off on a different tack but still in some way connected with the present course — only you have to remember that the dash is there, and either put a second dash at the end of the notion to let the reader know that he’s back on course, or else end the sentence, as here, with a period.

__ Lewis Thomas

Use a dash [ ] (or two hyphens [ ] on old-fashioned typewriters) or dashes as a super-comma or set of super-commas to set off parenthetical elements, especially when those elements contain internal forms of punctuation:

All four of them—Bob, Jeffrey, Jason, and Brett—did well in college.

In most word-processors, the dash is created by holding down the option key and hitting the key that has the underline mark above the hyphen. This can vary, though, from program to program. Usually, you get an en dash (see below) with the option + hyphen key, and you get the larger em dash (used more frequently) with option + shift + hyphen keys.

Do not use dashes to set apart material when commas would do the work for you. Usually, there are no spaces between the dash and the letters on either side of a dash, although the dash is frequently shown that way in documents prepared for the World Wide Web and e-mail for typographical and aesthetic reasons (because the WWW authoring and e-mail clients have little control over line-breaks).

In writing dialogue, the dash is used to show breaks in thought and shifts in tone:

“How many times have I asked you not to —” Jasion suddenly stopped talking and looked out the window.

“Not to do what?” I prompted.

“Not to — Oh heck, I forget!”

A dash is sometimes used to set off concluding lists and explanations in a more informal and abrupt manner than the colon.

We seldom see the dash used this way in formal, academic prose.

Update on Fail

Dear John,


I walked into my kitchen and thought about the situation again.  We didn’t evaluate it as a story, so let’s use it in the English version.  Don’t worry about it.  That’s what we’ll do.  We’ll be sending you checkmark evaluations later today, most likely. 




Idore Anschell


P.S.  We like to know how people have heard of us.  Please let us know this.  IA


Explanation of Fail

 (When I am rejected, I always wonder, is it the content? Could this be the answer?)

Dear John Jaramillo,

I’m afraid we cannot accept your story after all..  Our third guidline says, “English only.” 


I know some of Hemingway’s wonderful work contatins Spanish.  But this is a tiny venue with strict guidelines.  We cannot expect our readers or our evaluators to understand, “Oy, lo.  Muy chingon,” and “mujer!”


I offer you the opportunity to send another story, paid for by your payment of $15.00, or the return of your $15.00.  I’m sorry.



Idore Anschell


 (Here it is if you were curious.)


Front Seat and Pinocchio

(word ct: 100)

That morning in the Chevy, I said, “You know that thing that makes people learn?”

            “Oy, lo. Muy chingon.”

“Know what I mean?”

“Brain?” she said.

“No! Conscience—”

“Jiminy Cricket. I saw it on tape.”

            “Jesus. I let you talk all night”


            “I’m just saying. I don’t have that.”

            “People don’t sleep in cars or what?”


            “Well, we’re here.”

“I’m older. I say they don’t.”

            She leaned up and revealed a blemish where her Jefe had taken a cigarette to her cheek. “If you ashamed, take me home—”

“Ah, mujer! Go back to sleep!”



The Grandfather and My Prose

I speak anecdotally in the classroom so often some of my students begin to speak of my Grandfather as if they know him–as if they know his influence upon me. And because as a fiction writer I don’t begin to think that the Jefe in the writing or the Grandfather from those anecdotal lessons from the classroom–those moments where I lead my students through my own literacy development as a model for them–is the  real man. As in most non-fiction I am well aware that the character on the page has to be honestly addressed a literary equivalent and not the true persona or the true image of a person.

Jenny Cornell was very clear about this idea in my own non-fictive writing for her. She would always write that she was not comfortable at addressing the I or the speaker in the essays I wrote for as the real John Paul in her office–but rather she always addressed the persona or the created John Paul in the essay. The non-fictive face or the equivalent of a pose–very controlled and always used to rhetorical affect.

And so the dilemma of the Grandfather. The man I speak of in most of my classes. So much to the point a student told me today–your Grandfather did a great job in raising me. And I can assure you this is the furthest from the truth. Influenced or sponsored but not in a mentored sensibility. And I have to admit some of the examples or anecdotes in the classroom are controlled for rhetorical affect. Like my fiction–molded and crafted to determine theme or simply to give me a world to address.

The real Grandfather–my father’s father–never gave me much. I have an old hunting rifle and I have his canteen from WW II or at least that is what he always sold. As for my mother’s father–I met him on two occasions before his death. I was very young–let’s say 12. His legs had been taken from a bout with diabetes and his drinking. He gave me a sense of mystery and really all I have of him is a photograph folks say looks like me.

The Grandfather I most often speak of and write on was not my Grandfather at all. He was the man my Grandmother–or the woman who raised my mother–lived with for most of my life. This relationship was the most influential of them all. He mentored me and sponsored me–taught me what it was to be honest and trustworthy–he also drank and smoked and chased women and treated the Grandmother so poorly as to influence my creative sensibility in such complicated ways.

And so when I write about the Jefe or the Chief as my father’s father was called. And when I write about the Grandfather and write about the Jefe I am also referring to the man who was living wth my Grandmother and not the man who raised or even biologically father my mother. This complicated fusing of reality and merged relationships I utilize in my fiction and the way I utilize anecdote in the classroom I must be honest about as it is all for rhetorical affect.  In fact these stories though are so honest in capturing the feel of living on Spruce as I did for a time or on Routte as I also did for a time  and truly capture this world of Bessemer and the south-side of Pueblo as any home movie I could show or play via the Internet and this weblog.

So am I dealing with these lost family connections in my family? Am I trying to account for these lost relationships in my classroom and in my fiction writing?