Contact Tim Hernandez: or 303-437-9435


If you watched part 1, part 2, or part 3 of Univision’s Special Report “Tragedia Sin Nombre,” and then you found yourself sharing the story with others, then you are making history. If you are reading the Tulsa World article or listening to the California Report, or NPR’s Tell Me More, and then you turn around and mention this story to a friend, you are making history. If you are a teacher using this story to illustrate a subject or point in the classroom, you too are making history. The more we share this story the more it becomes an irremovable thread in our collective experience. Please share far and wide. My hope is that my book spills far out, off the pages and into the streets, kitchens, classrooms, road trips and intimate spaces, wherever there is a discussion about what it means to be human.

Lance Canales and myself, the memorial benefit concert, April 18, 2013

Lance Canales and myself, the memorial benefit concert, Fresno, California, April 18, 2013


One of my earliest mentors once told me that in order to find a poem we must live in the “non-poem.” In other words, those little spaces, rhythms, failures, joys and triumphs, the stuff our lives are made up of is where we find poetry and stories. But we have to be in it, really in it. Makes sense, right? But I can’t tell you how easy it’s been for me to forget this simple truth lately. As I dive headlong into the writing of my Deportees book, people too easily become characters, lived stories sway to and away from fact, letters to loved ones read more like narrative peaks and valleys, such to the point that I frequently catch myself digging out a photograph from my research files, just to prove to myself that I didn’t make up the image in my mind’s eye. That it does, in fact, exist. This is a whole new realm for me. For the past 15 years that I’ve been writing seriously, I’ve grown accustomed to generating material from my own creative impulses, my own slippery ideas and fancy distortions. This time, for this piece, I’ve resigned myself to the role of witness. Just as this is a book of witnesses. What the children on the ground who lived in that Canyon witnessed. What the prisoners who got their hands dirty that morning witnessed. What the media witnessed. What the landscape itself witnessed. The mountain range, and the airplane, what they witnessed. What Woody and Martin, and those closest to them witnessed. What we are now witnessing. For the last two and a half years I’ve carried around a small, very small, digital recorder. So a lot of this process has been transcription. Also, some of what the Nicaraguan poet, Ernesto Cardenal dubbed Documentary-poems, or Docu-poems, have been employed here. I guess Kerouac referred to a similar process he called “sketch-writing, or sketching.” Something like chronicling the found language and images as objectively as possible, quick and without too much thought. Free of all “fancy distortions.” Or in the words of Steinbeck, free of “my own authorial warp.” I’ve even dipped back into Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s “True Perception: The Path of Dharma Art,” because I see this approach to writing somewhat in line with his concept of “non-aggression,” or rather, a “non-aggressive art,” as in “all things a symbol of themselves.” I remember taking a workshop with Ruben Martinez, author of “El Otro Lado” way back in 1996, and he said something along the lines of “If you write about things as they are the metaphors are already there.” He might’ve been more poetic than that, I’m sure. But here I am now, doing my best to allow these voices, 65 years later, to speak on their own accord. And I cannot express to you how fantastic, challenging, and yet frightening this whole process is. As of right now, the book is shaping up to look like a textual documentary; language, interviews, photos and letters. I’ll try and post a few excerpts down the road.


The last few weeks of this fundraising campaign and the book research have been especially trying. Just when I think I’m close to discovering one of the surviving descendants of the deportee passengers I hit a roadblock. But then, from nowhere I get a phone call or an email from someone, telling me how they are connected to that flight. Or, to that day. Or, to the song. Or, to the land itself. Or, how they are an aviation expert or historian or geologist, and want to help. Connectivity is the word here. This incident, 65 years later, still carries weight. Even the donations, though a little slower than we had expected, have been coming in from all parts of the country. And they are typically accompanied with letters of encouragement. It’s inspiring to know that people in the world could feel so passionate about a group of “others” they never knew or met. Perhaps it’s because these are the same people who also believe in connectivity. The possibility that there really is no “other.” We are it.

photo (2)

Just last week I was back up in Los Gatos Canyon. Along the way we saw a snake crossing the road. We got off to move it back on the shoulder so that it didn’t get hit by a car. Just then I remembered this photo (above). The one of my parents, my uncle and aunt, and my grandparents, all working the sugar beet fields in Wyoming. When I was a child, my father (on the far left) used to wear me on his back while he hoed. Sometimes though, my mother (far back on the right) would set me on the warm soft earth and work around me, watchful of rattlesnakes. It’s taken me a long time to undo my fear of things I know so little about. So much goes untold in the conditioning.


Growing List of Contributors to the Deportee Memorial Headstone

Ilan Stavans – Amherst, MA
Christine Murray dela Hofer – Fresno, CA
Luis Bravo – Fresno, CA
Shelly Catterson – Evergreen, CO
Cesar Chavez Foundation
Diane Vigeant – Colorado Springs, CO
(In Loving Memory of Jerry Davich and Martin Hoffman)
Bill Spence & Sue Edelstein – Carbondale, CO
(in memory of Martin Hoffman)
John McCutcheon – Smoke Rise, GA
Ronald Scudder – Livermore, CA
Joseph Offer – Applegate, CA
Barbara Davis – Witchita, KS
Armstrong-Hagen – Tehachapi, CA
Judith Major – Mars Hill, NC
Jacqueline Dwyer – Henrico, VA
Carol Giles-Straight – St. Louis, MO
Sylvia & Robert Ross – Lemon Cove, CA
Chris David Rosales – Denver, CO
Robert V. Hansman – New York, NY
Roberts Family – Fremont, CA
Berenice Guzman (and students of Dinuba High School)- Dinuba, CA
Riley Family – Newington, Ct
Aris & In-Sun Janigian – Los Angeles, CA
Rascon Family – Bakersfield, CA
Consuelo Romo – Visalia, CA
Holly Hisamoto – El Monte, CA
Richard Stone & Billey Adams – Fresno, CA
Tom & Linda Farrell – Indianapolis, IN
Dini Karasik – Kensington, MD
Darren De Leon — Oakland, CA
Shubin Family- Fresno, CA
Maceo Montoya – Woodland, CA
Carlos Francisco Jackson — Sacramento, CA
Camille T. Taiara — Oakland, CA
Malaquias Montoya – Elmira, CA
Javier O. Huerta — Berkeley, CA
Matt Espinoza Watson — Fresno, CA
Chuck McNally — Fresno, CA
K.A. Elias & S. Shena – Three Rivers, CA
Corrine Hales – Fresno, CA
Ester Hernandez – San Francisco, CA
Hallowell Family – Friant, CA
Daniel Sullivan- Walnut Creek, CA
Joseph Rios — Berkeley, CA
Mia Barraza Martinez — Fresno, CA
Jaime Montiel — Sacramento, CA
Nolan Family – Palm Desert, CA
Tim Hernandez & Dayanna Sevilla – Boulder, CO
St. Francis of Assisi Parish – Bakersfield, CA
Roth Crane – Fresno, CA
Berry Construction – Madera, CA
The Woody Guthrie Foundation – Bethel, NY
Conjunto Califas – Visalia, CA
Jemmy Bluestein Band – Fresno, CA
Lance Canales & The Flood – Fresno, CA
Melanie Cervantes – Oakland, CA
Jesus Barraza – Oakland, CA
Bezayiff Family – Sabillasville, MD
Rosenberg Family – Los Angeles, CA
Jonathan Segal – Menlo Park, CA
Abelino Bautista – Fresno, CA
Shannon Johnson – Fresno, CA
Diego Monterrubio – Lindsay, CA
Sylvia Savala – Fresno, CA
Ole Frijole – Fresno, CA
Donna Odierna – Oakland, CA
Jennifer Douglas-Larsson – Boulder, CO
John Sierra – Fresno, CA
Robert Marshall – Visalia, CA
Janet Flores – Fresno, CA
Catherine Campbell – Fresno, CA
Thomas Quinn – Fresno, CA
Alex Espinoza – Fresno, CA
Pedraza Family – Fresno, CA
Griggs Family — Fresno, CA
Herrick Family – Fresno, CA
Robin Wheeler – Belleville, IL
Arlene Biala – Sunnyvale, CA
Jane Oriel – Albany, CA
Allison Kosch – Palmdale, CA
Nora & Kenneth Albert – Northampton, MA
Fulton 55 – Fresno, CA
Bell Memorials – Clovis, CA

*If I have accidentally left out your name please inform me right away! We wouldn’t want to repeat history.