Back to All Events

Brittany Ackerman, The Perpetual Motion Machine & Joseph C. Robledo, Blood on Canvas

  • Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse 1010 Foothill Boulevard La Cañada Flintridge (map)

An Evening with Memoirists

perpetual motion machine.jpg

Brittany Ackerman is a writer from Riverdale, New York. She earned her BA in English from Indiana University and graduated from Florida Atlantic University’s MFA program in Creative Writing. She is a Critical Studies instructor at AMDA College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts where she teaches Archetypal Psychology as well as Applied Logic and Critical Thinking. She was the 2017 Nonfiction Award Winner for Red Hen Press, as well as the AWP Intro Journals Project Award Nominee in 2015. She currently lives in Los Angeles, California.

blood on the canvas.jpg

Joseph C. Robledo was born and raised in Pasadena, CA, the adopted home of his iconic father Canto and the birthplace of Canto’s famous Crown City Boxing Stables. Joseph’s life was interwoven with boxing, as he was close to his father and an integral member of Canto’s team in and out of the ring. Joseph was an amateur boxer as an adolescent and won the Junior Golden 65-Pound Novice Division Championship in 1956, when he was also named Most Outstanding Fighter in the tournament. His overall ring record was 27-3-1 by the time he stopped boxing to focus on his academic goals.

A native son of California, Joseph attended local schools; taught in the Oak Grove, Pasadena, and Duarte school districts; coached various school teams; and was an adjunct professor at Pasadena City College and California State University, Los Angeles. He received a BA Degree in Physical Education from Cal State LA and an MA in Physical Education from Azusa Pacific University. He recently retired after teaching for 38 years. Joseph also served as an Athletic Inspector in boxing sanctions for the State


The Perpetual Motion Machine A MEMOIR IN ESSAYS by Brittany Ackermann (Red Hen Press)

When my brother was in high school he attempted to build a perpetual motion machine to save the world. That machine was my brother’s experiment; this book is mine. It is in the text where I dissect our relationship and try to understand myself. In undertaking this project, I had to research, which meant looking at photo albums, interviewing my brother and parents, asking friends and family what I was like when I was little, etc. Like my brother once said after reading my work, “We color these memories differently,”

I knew that in order to methodically calculate the moments I had to meticulously plot out what it was I was trying to say. In this way, the collection is like a science project. This book is how I will try to save my brother, or more largely how I will attempt to save the world by making people understand the pain we’ve all been through, the visceral pain that accompanies longing for some past impossibility. My preparation has been “in the field” and living through it, gathering notes, experiences, and findings; it has all been one giant experiment—to see if we could make it out alive.


"One of the most important types of love—the love between siblings—has perhaps also been the least-carefully explored in contemporary literature. Count Brittany Ackerman's instantly engaging and wildly engrossing memoir, The Perpetual Motion Machine, as a headfirst dive in the right direction. Her prose is accessible and affecting, and her family story is exquisite in its luminous detail and intimacy, full of heartbreak and humor—as simple as an abacus, as expansive as the starry night sky. I loved this book!"

—Davy Rothbart, author of My Heart is an Idiot, creator of FOUND Magazine, and contributor to This American Life



BLOOD ON THE CANVAS: The Life and Legacy of Boxing Icon, Canto "TNT" Robledo (Golden Foothills Press)

Canto Robledo's parents immigrated to America from Mexico with big dreams pushing against poverty and hardship. Canto became an amateur boxer at age 15, turned pro at 16, and was the Pacific Coast Bantamweight Champion in 1932 at age 19, headed for a shot at the world championship title. He was a rising star, a local hero to thousands...until that fateful match at age 20 that left him permanently blind. Shattered, he flailed for 5 long years in depression and hopelessness until he found a new calling in his life. As the first and only blind boxing manager and trainer in America, Canto helped change the lives of over 500 young men seeking direction, success, self-esteem, and championships in a career spanning 60 years and earning Hall of Fame honors. 

In this book of careful research and cherished recollections, Canto's younger son Joseph, who was also an amateur boxer trained by his father, shares how the icon he knew proudly as his role model and hero turned devastation and shattered dreams into selfless accomplishments bigger than life.