A Writer is Just Around the Corner...

Hey mi gente!  

Hope the week turned out good for you.  It's been busy on this side and lots of new prospects coming up.  Officially though, I have to note a fact.  Some of you are quite aware of this, but others not so much.   Failure happens most times.  I think I point this out because as a part of the day job as a teacher, I end up being a sort of support system whenever something becomes an obstacle.  Sometimes, my students who happen to be having a tough time of it, tend to become easily discouraged.  I hope I am doing a good job when I tell them that even adults fail at things.   Then they give me side eye and try to brush off my comment as if I don't get what they mean, but I do.  I really do.  So on Monday, when a kid tells me something didn't work out, I will probably mention my latest rejection letter.   Yep, I got a rejection from "SPLIT THIS ROCK" this time around (click here to get more info) for their poetry contest.  This year the winner was selected by Rigoberto Gonzalez, and well, I got a nice rejection letter out of it.  HA!  In truth, the me 10 years ago would have been a bit more hurt,  But I know all too well, it wasn't my time.  It didn't work out for whatever reason and so I have to move on.  I have to move on fast.   There are many other things to accomplish and I can not waste a single moment dwelling on the negative.  I can analyze later if what I sent it was the best for this contest (which in all honesty, I thought it was).   When I look at it again, I can see if there is something I can improve for a second go around.   
                 I don't know if my students will get the point, but perhaps when they see that even what I plan for doesn't work out, maybe they can stop being so hard on themselves.  They work hard (and the ones that don't know who they are) and they can analyze how to improve for the NEXT go around - and that is the key - knowing that there has to be a next time.   La wifey and I have the same attitude about the things that don't work out - ¡ANIMO! If it didn't work out the first time, laugh, enjoy the moment of failure as the experience it is, and get ready for next go at it.  Then laugh again.  


Ok, so I have another confession to make - I am always in awe of other writers/poets/activists/bloggers/novelists/community leaders, etc., because they seem to have their work and their craft so tightly put together!  I am always taking notes.  I am always wondering if perhaps I am missing something.  Yes, its a comparison, but let's face it, I wouldn't be human if I didn't do a little bit of that. I think I do this in healthy doses though.   I look at the work of my compamadrexes and I am elated/surprised/impressed/ at what they come up with.  If I am at a public event, I am in thought "Man, why didn't I think of this?" or "Holy hell, they know things I barely am just finding out about!".  Its like going back to school -crash course style.  Its an amazing feeling to hear people, to ask questions about the focus of their work.  If it is something I am reading up on a book/article/blog, I have the same questions in my head and if I get the gumption to do it, I email or message out questions.   In all cases, I am supportive.  In the end, I use these moments to truly check myself - Am I doing all I can to move this craft along?  I am doing what I can for community (literary or otherwise)?  In the end, it serves to reassure my self doubting ass, that yes, I am doing something.  Is it the most significant thing? The most effective thing?  Time will tell.  The main point is to support and keep at it.     
           So with that said, I wanted to bring up several writers I have had the pleasure of getting to know.  These men and women have added their distinctive voices to sites and conversations about themes that are important in society, in the literary community at large and are just beautifully insightful.   All of these individuals I have met through my time at CANTOMUNDO, and I consider them familia.   I am proud of the work they are doing and think you should read upon their work as well as these entries.   You will be better for it. 

Rosebud Ben-Oni  - Born to a Mexican mother and Jewish father, Rosebud Ben-Oni is a recipient of the 2014 NYFA Fellowship in Poetry and a CantoMundo Fellow. She was a Rackham Merit Fellow at the University of Michigan, a Horace Goldsmith Scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a graduate of the Women’s Work Lab at New Perspectives Theater in NYC. She is the author ofSOLECISM (Virtual Artists Collective, 2013) and an Editorial Advisor for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. Her work appears in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, Arts & Letters, Bayou, Puerto del Sol, among others. She writes weekly for The Kenyon Review

Facebook / Twitter 

If you click on her name, you end up at her site (check. it. out. )  and if you click on THE KENYON REVIEW, you are taken to the very pages of her weekly blog.  She is remarkable.  Her energy is fierce.  She is leona.  She is poignant and mi hermana.   She makes my head hurt, she's so smart.  Check out both her site and the entires on the Kenyon Review page.   

Natalie Scenters-Zapico - is from the sister cities of El Paso, Texas, U.S.A. and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México. She is the author of The Verging Cities, which won the 2016 Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writers Award, the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies Tejas FOCO Award, was featured as a top ten debut of 2015 byPoets and Writers, and named a Must-Read Debut by LitHub (Center For Literary Publishing, 2015). A CantoMundo fellow, her poems have appeared in American Poets, The Believer,  Prairie Schooner, West Branch,Best American Poetry 2015 and more. Natalie lives with her husband, border rhetorics scholar José Ángel Maldonado, in Salt Lake City. 

You can reach her at nascenters at gmail dot com or follow her on twitter @nascenters 
Now, this hermana is bad ass in her own right.  We just had the pleasure of meeting this past year at CANTOMUNDO and I learned that she attended UTEP  in her undergrad career!  It feels good to know somebody else associated with the creative writing program there. #Bonding  
So, Natalie's work was included in the Best American Poetry 2015, a beast of an honor (and well deserved) and then later, on the Best American Poetry's blog site, she was given space to writer about Latin@ poetics. She does a bang up job with it and then goes and invites several more poets to talk about their own experiences. 

To read Natalie's blog on BAP, go here and then hit up these conversations as well: 

interview with Javier Zamora 

Interview with Erika L. Sánchez  

Interview with Marcelo Hernandez Castillo 

interview with Carolina Ebeid

Most recently , Javier Zamora had a splendid go at writing up blog entries (powerful entries might I add) on the same BAP site.  These are listed below as well:


Javier ZamoraJavier was born in El Salvador and migrated to the US when he was nine. He holds fellowships from CantoMundo, Colgate University, MacDowell, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Yaddo. The recipient of the 2016 Barnes and Noble Writer for Writer’s Award, his poems appear or are forthcoming inAPR, Narrative, Ploughshares, POETRY, The Kenyon Review,and elsewhere. His first full-length book is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press. Follow Javier on twitter at  or @jzsalvipoet and on instagram : @jzsalvipoet

BAP Blog entry - Recuerdo   

Place, Origin, and Stalks of Corn [by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo]  

The Story of Someone We Love (Part 1)   

The Story of Someone We Love (Part 2) 

BAP Blog entry - Recommended Reading/Viewing   

Enjoy the read, its well worth it!  



THIS is a brilliant opportunity to learn and meet with Chicano based scholars working in all sorts of arenas working to support Chicanx identity.   I will probably be reporting on this for the next two blog posts, schedule and all.   if you want better details - hit up my UPCOMING EVENTS page on this site and then take a good look at the flyer below: 



No, really, so the Woman of the World Qualifier in Slam poetry happened this past weekend - and several of #HTX's best female poets competed and the winner - reppin'  HOUSTON VIP Poetry Slam team is none other than DEEP!!  Congrats to you!!  I heard it was successful event and I wish DEEP luck as she will travel to NYC (I THINK) to compete.  Exciting stuff!   (CLICK on "HOUSTON VIP" to learn more about them) 

OK, mi gente, its late and I still have to get clothes together for work and do some editing on a manuscript.   So, hit me up if you have any questions or suggest this blog to other people.   

And, as always, I leave you with the teaser...