Travel Some, Write Much

Hey mi querida gente,

Hope this blog post finds you in good fortune and better days. Today, its about 5 pm on a Friday afternoon and I am sitting here at Boomtown Coffee (if you are in HTX, come by, its pretty much a chingón place) enjoying the time to write. Its one of the few moments I have had in the last two weeks to just be still. Every post sounds like some amount of madness intercepts my life, but, neta, neta, that is how is really is.  So let's get this started again - FIRST FOR THE TEASE:


So if you follow me or the wifey on Facebook (not saying you have to at all, mind you) then you probably chuckle a bit after a few days as Jasminne has discovered and doing very well with an app on Facebook - BITSTRIPS. This ish is funny as hell. I don't know if its the fact that anyone can create their own avatar or the backdrop scenarios they provide- it could just be that the wifey finds the scenes and adds the comments that we would actually say. - BUT, I digress. The bitstrip in all its glory highlights two really fortunate events for the MENDEZ HOUSEHOLD - my lady is working on getting published by FLORICANTO PRESS and I have just been accepted into the NALAC Leadership Institute.  

        Floricanto Press (more info, click on the bolded link above) is out of California and has taken a keen interest in Jasminne's memoir - geared to young adults about her Domincan roots, her upbringing as a child in a military family and her connections to both cultures. I am extremely proud of her and did some research and guess what? My brother from another mother - MATT MENDEZ's book - TWITCHING HEART is out of FLORICANTO PRESS and I am loving that book!!  - SO, if they will publish him and they are now looking at my wifey, then it has to be a damn good press. I am impressed.  Right now, the wifey has taken the time to revise it and about a week ago turned in the revised manuscript. So, if they like it, they talk a little more and work something out. Either way, I am proud that she got it up and out into the world. She rocks. Its one of the main reasons I keep writing- she inspires me to do more. Plus, if she makes it big, then I will quit the day job and have a sugah mama. Hell yeah. No shame. Then i can finish this MFA and not worry about the bills. I can be aloof and a fool. (NOT REALLY).
      THEN, on my side of the hill - I applied for a spot with a leadership institute under the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LATINO ARTS AND CULTURES (NALAC). (CLICK THE NAME) They only had 20 something spots and the application process was very thorough. I didn't think I had a shot and if it hadn't have been for Edward Vidaurre in the RGV (THANK YOU !!!), I would have missed the deadline.  

Here is the overview: 

The NALAC Leadership Institute (NLI) is a week-long rigorous program in arts management and leadership development that delivers innovative and practical strategies that lead to successful business practices in the arts. The dynamic learning environment cultivates a familiar, inclusive cultural space that provides multiple generations of Latino artists, arts managers and cultural promoters the support, knowledge, and agency to confidently respond to and initiate solutions to complex cultural questions.

The goals of the Institute are to:

    • develop core capacities in the areas of arts management, networking, marketing, fund development;
    • deliver training via interactive group learning, consultations, and leadership simulations;
    • advance knowledge in the field of Latino artistic expressions, research and policy;
    • contextualize the frameworks that inform and affect Latino cultural production;
    • strengthen and expand the NALAC professional network;
    • promote awareness for planned organizational legacy and artistic/executive succession;
    • provide effective tools and research that optimize leadership competence; and,
    • prepare leaders to be creative, strategic and nimble cultural responders.

Applicants to the NLI are accepted from multiple generations of Latino artists, arts managers and cultural promoters in various stages of career development.  A group of 15-22 participants will be selected to attend the NLI in San Antonio, TX.

SO, there you have it. I attend in the end of July and from fellow artist, Lizbeth Ortiz, I should be ready- its intense. Hell yeah. I am intrigued.



So, its been a week and several things deserve some more talking about - mainly - the Librotraficante Movement and what is happening right now. Well, right the last blog post, we initiated an amazing undertaking - we planned out a DAY OF ACTION around the Great State of TX!!  Participating cities included Dallas, El Paso, Baytown, Houston, the Rio Grande Valley, Austin, and San Antonio all on Friday, April 26th, 2013.  Every city had its own way to explore, discuss, inform, and expand on SB1128 and HB1938. 

   To that end, I found myself in the RGV, attending the Valley International Poetry Fest (give me a few minutes and I will catch you up on that too!!) and attending the student event created in response to this legislation at the University of Texas Pan American (UTPA). It was an informative day, it was a day to let people voice their ideas and ways to combat this bad tasting legislation. It worked. 

Well, no sooner do we take the week and reorganize, Rep. Capriglione and the Higher Education House Committee make a move - they voted, quietly and the House Bill - HB1938 has passed the committee and is now on the floor of the HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES!!  From what we know, they could vote on the bill as soon as the 9th. NOW, is the time. If you ever want to know what it is like to exercise your right as an American and work for something, then call and email and fax your State REPS.  - Let them now that you want them to vote down HB1938.  - Contact them and let them know what you think!! USE THIS: 

Do not let Texas Turn into Arizona. Call the TX House of Representatives Calendar Committee to stop HB1938 from getting a vote.

Please call The Chair: Rep. Tod Hunter  (512) 463-0672

Please call the Vice Chair: Rep. Eddie Lucio, III.  (512) 463-0606 

Please call Rep Alonzo:  

(512) 463-0408 

If you have time or enegery call other members as well. 

Here is a link to the members of the Calendar Comittee:

Also, below is a sample script.

Thank you for standing up for Ethnic Studies. We will not let our History be discredited. 

Letter/fax/email/phone call format:

I am reaching out to you to ask you to vote against allowing HB1938, sponsored by Rep. Capriglione,  onto the House Calendar for a Vote. 

HB1938 will take U.S. History back to 1938, before Ethnic Studies.

If HB1938 becomes law Mexican American,  African American, or Women's History will not count towards History requirements for a Texas degree.

This will effectively destroy Ethnic and Gender Studies Programs in Texas.

Furthermore, Rep. Capriglione has not revealed the contents of this Comprehensive History that he and the bill advocate; yet, this bill would go into effect Sept. 1, 2013.

This bill uses Arizona-style "doughnut hole legislation" to attack ethnic studies professors and dissuade them from teaching books by women, African American, and Mexican Americans in the class room.

Texas is not Arizona. Arizona is the center of a Movement against Ethnic Studies. We will not tolerate that in Texas.

Resolutions have been written against HB1938, sponsored by Rep. Capriglione, and SB1128, written by Sen. Dan Patrick, by the following groups, and more are coming on board:   

--The National Assoc. for Chicana and Chicano Scholars (NACCS)

--The NACCS Tejas Foco

-- Texas Junior College Student Government Association                     

--North Texas LULAC Convention 

--Texas Senator Sylvia Garcia


So last week (Thursday through Sunday, April 25 -28th) I participated in a BAD ASS-HOLY-HELL-MAS-CHINGON Poet's Heaven known as the Valley International Poetry Festival (VIPF). It was a ruckus and calming all at the same time - it was like going to a family reunion and getting to see all the family members you really wanted to see. - I was able to take the time and travel all over the Rio Grande Valley and see it in such a different light. I used to go religiously for family vacations, but only head to San Benito, never knowing the RGV was a hot spot for poetry. It was truly inspirational. I had the chance to hear poets from Mexico and England (YES, you read that right), and from all over Texas. I met some amazing poets, (SHOUT OUT to Jose Chapa, Amado Tijerina, Cesar De Leon, Diana Dominguez, and Mary Ann Escamilla). I got to touch base with some old friends - especially the MASC at UTPA and TAMMY GOMEZ - and hang out with Ed Vidaurre, Amalia Ortiz, and one of the organizers - Daniel Garcia Ordaz. We are now BFF because I have learned his gente hail from JALISCO.  - But sincerely, I am in such awe of Daniel and Brenda - the two main organizers who put this thing together. They hosted well over 20 poets in a 4 day span and arranged reading in more than 10 locations, 4 of them high schools, and one concurrent reading in Mexico. I am humbled that they would let me be a featured poet - and doubly humbled at all the amazing poetic talent from all the poets in the RGV. To be sure, I will go back next year. It rocks. Besides, it gives me a chance to goof off with my boys, Ed and Daniel. At Denny's, no less, at 1 in the morning...  (and a MAJOR Shout out to Ileana Garcia-Spitz - she took some amazing shots, a bad ass photographer!!!)


OK, so I am giving you the heads up to two of them today!!!


SO, since I just told you about an amazing event in the RGV, I figured you should know about an amazing publishing opportunity in the RGV as well. Damas y Caballeros, check out LA NORIA LITERARY JOURNAL (click on the title)- from what I can tell (as I am about to submit myself) it looks to be a rockin' journal. I like the format - they do on-line publication three times a year and then collect the work in a physical journal in January. Neat and clean. Well done, gente!!  The submission period is open from April 22nd to July 1st. So get it going.  Oh yeah, here is what its all about: 

LA NORIA - A collaborative project of We Need Words and VAO Publishing, La Noria Literary Journal provides a venue for writers who draw words from the creative wells of Hispanic and border culture. The hybrid on-line/print journal will publish three electronic editions in April, August and December, with a trade paperback annual each January.

A noria [Spanish, from the Arabic na'ura] is a water wheel that can draw multiple buckets of water from a well in quick succession. Developed by Muslim engineers in Spain during medieval times (based on Roman and Greek prototypes), norias were vital tools in irrigation. We selected this term to serve as a symbol of our goal: to draw forth a flood of words from the deep wells of our culture (Hispanic, border or Southwestern) to irrigate the minds of our readers.

La Noria has no political bias to shill, no philosophical or critical stance to promote, no lofty academic aspirations to realize: we just love good literature, the Río Grande Valley, the Southwest, and Hispanic culture in general. We will publish any genre, any subject matter, any writer at all…as long as the piece appeals to those simple guidelines.

Good literature with a cultural bent.

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Being a Librotraficante and a one of the founders of the Librotraficante Movement sure has its perks - one of them being a contributing editor for DRUNKEN BOAT. (click HERE to get more info) YES!!  So the good folks at this fine journal are actually dedicating a section of the next issue to the LIBROTRAFICANTE MOVEMENT - check it: 

"In solidarity with the Librotraficante movement, sparked by Arizona’s SB 2281 and the Tucson Unified School District’s resulting ban of Mexican American Studies, Drunken Boat seeks work by creators of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, spoken word, and experimental/mixed media that honors our country’s Latino heritage. The portfolio embraces quantum demographics, which, in the words of Librotraficante founder Tony Diaz, “pinpoint and celebrate the bridges that already exist between us.” Submissions will be considered through this lens of cultural intersection as it pertains to the New Latino Renaissance."

A special shout to my contact with Drunken Boat - editor, Erin Wilcox as she is bustin' her bum in getting it all together and allowing me the opportunity to get these works into the issue.  SO DON'T WAIT!!  The submission window is open, BUT only until MAY 24th!! GET YOUR SUBMISSIONS IN!!!  The is no time like the present!!  



One last piece to close us out!!! - Yet again its that time for CULTURAL LADRONES - my boy Marlon Lizama has created a unique arts show and now Marcell Murphy and a few others are a part of the show!  You should come check this out: 

"Cultural Ladrones is an event celebrating true grassroots artists. Focusing on artists who not only embody the grassroots mentality, but also contribute to their community. The term 'Cultural Ladrones' was chosen on the fact that 'OUR' type of artist generically taught him or herself by combining cultural, sub cultural, the conventional, and the un- conventional route. We focus on the power of art, music, words to create and reach as many people as we can through movements, ideas, and social justice.



CULTURAL LADRONES will take place on May.12th (Mothers Day) from 8pm to 1am. 

Admission: $10

The event is for fans of art, music and poetry who are 21 & up. 

Where: - ESTATE LOUNGE (2303 Richmond Ave. 77098)


AND with that, we are at a close. Thanks for the read, see you back here soon. Oh, yeah, here is the tease...