Blog

A writer writes para prestar su voz a todo el mundo

Hey mi gente,  hope you are doing well on your side of the screen. Let's get going straight up with what was and what is new. Hope you are ready. 

WHAT WAS:

HOLY. HELL. So from the last time you saw a blog post from me (check them out, if you are new to my blog!) I was finishing up my blog in relation to my Summer I MFA class - "The Creative Experience", all the travel writing and the intensity of creating +10 poems from that class was a cool trip. On the plus side, I got to hang out with some amazing writers and our profe, Daniel Chacon (not to mention hanging out with some cool undergraduates!!) THEN, I entered the gauntlet of poetry production and film/book relations with two more classes in Summer II - "Advanced Poetry Writing" & "Storytelling in FIlm & Literature. It was a massive summer. ON top of that, I was able to take part in a life changing opportunity - CANTOMUNDO. I can't speak enough about it. It was a beautiful gathering of like minded writers. It was a space to let it all hang out and speak about craft, about performance, about the ins and outs of publishing and the future of Latino Poetics. I am humbled to have been chosen and then grateful for the newest friends I have made. 

As if that wasn't enough, I came back home, hung out with the wifey for a bit, made a quick trip to Anaheim, got some publications out (major thanks to Rosebud Ben-Oni, Glassworks, Luna Luna Magazine and Maggie Galehouse) and had time to put on a reading for Natalia Treviño's new book - "LAVANDO LA DIRTY LAUNDRY". Then after that - made some time to help put on  an amazing WORD AROUND TOWN POETRY TOUR - 2014! (Click on the bold to see links)

OH, and I got three A's from the summer.  What did you do? ( - In truth, I almost feel foolish staring the blog off with this news, for the next details are a bit rough, forgive the harshness)

WHAT IS:  

There is a lot going on today. Next week's blog will focus a bit on what I have been working on these past few weeks, as the fall semester treks on. For now though, I want to shift the focus bit. 

There are moments too valuable to let a matter of truth slip by, unreviewed. This then, is one of them. 

"WE WANT EDUCATION AND WE RECEIVE BULLETS"

Sad news from the state of Guerrero, México. 
First,  the Official Report as told by UNAM's La Jornada.  

Policías balean a normalistas de Ayotzinapa en Iguala; 5 muertos
Police shoot "Normalistas" from Ayotzinapa in Iguala; 5 dead
(Click on the article title to view)

Headline for La Jornada, September 28th, 2014

Headline for La Jornada, September 28th, 2014

(Translation) 

Sergio Ocampo Arista 
correspondent 
La Jornada 
Sunday, 28 September 2014, p. 5 
Iguala, Gro., September 27. 

Armed attacks from municipal police and alleged gunmen were launched Friday night against students of the Normal School Rural Ayotzinapa which left five dead, 25 wounded, one brain dead . 25 others are still missing, the student witnesses reported. 

The attack, which continued the early hours of Saturday, was aimed at anyone who looked like a student. Gunmen fired at a bus filled with  traveling soccer team players, theHornets, the senior professional division soccer team,while on the federal highway Iguala-Chilpancingo . The vehicle fell off a cliff. The bus driver and one player were found dead. 

The students had come to meet Friday afternoon on four buses to engage in a fundraising event, at 6 pm. After the event concluded, the students took three buses to get out of Iguala, which apparently led the chase for more than two hours by municipal, state and federal police. 

At a press conference this afternoon at the school, Normal Ayotzinapa, parents and student leaders reported that several students were executed extra judicially -  students included, Daniel Solis Gallardo, a native of Zihuatanejo, in the first attackw which happened after 8 pm on Friday; then  Yosivani Guerrero, Omeapa village, municipality of Tixtla was also killed; while Aldo Solano Gutiérrez, born in Ayutla de los Libres, has been ruled brain dead. 

Of the 25 injured students, five are by gunfire, including Gutiérrez Solano, 25 others missing and an equal number are arrested. 

Photo taken about an hour after the shootings occurred. 

Photo taken about an hour after the shootings occurred. 

This morning, near where students were killed in Iguala on the downtown corner of Juan Alvarez St. , the body of a young man was found, who showed signs of torture and a skinned face. It is unknown if he was a student of the normal school. The Attorney General of the State (PGJE) counts the fatality as number six. 

The students demanded impeachment and dismissal of Mayor Jose Luis Abarca Velázquez and Governor Angel Aguirre Rivero, and the removal of the Secretary of Public Safety Iguala, Felipe Flores Velázquez. 

In a separate attack, gunmen and police fired on the bus of Chilpancingo's Hornets football (soccer) team in the Iguala-Acapulco highway. The vehicle, Castro Tours company, had been run off the road and the driver, Victor Manuel Lugo Ortiz, and one studentand footballer David Evangelista Joshua Garcia, 14 years old  were killed . A taxi driver who was passing by was injured and his passenger, Blanca Sánchez Montiel died. Four people in total have minor injuries. 

Almost simultaneously, a delegation from the Union of Workers of the College of Bachelors was attacked with bullets leaving two people injured, including its leader Alfredo Ramírez García, who later had surgery to remove a bullet from his shoulder. 

Scenes of desperation 

Mr. Jose Ma. Memije Rodriguez reached that point, near the town Santa Teresa." I come to get my son, but I am told that he was taken to the Public Ministry of Iguala", he said distressed aside Castro Tours truck-where his boy was traveling with other athletes - the bus involved has been found in the canyon, still, with broken windows along the left side. 

"My son's name is Christian David Memije Meza, and he came to referee the game against the Hornets, the selection of Iguala. I said (on the phone) I was hurt and that the truck was going all over the place on the road and we do not know why - but I made a call to the authorities see about these as criminal acts against athletes from Chilpancingo.  We are promoting the sport and its not right that this happens to them."

Concentrated police 

Iñaki Cabrera Cabrera, head of the state prosecutor's office, went to meet early today, but refused to make statements to the few details that were in the regional prosecutor's office; by the afternoon, it was announced that six people were killed and 17 were injured; the prosecutor initiated investigations. 

He stressed to clarify the facts, "the Public Ministry concentrated all municipal personnel, security personal, weapons and vehicle units as far as assigned for the performance of their duties in order to practice the respective expertise as warranted." 

The statement explained that "because of the fact that the normal school took three trucks to the bus station to go to school", police fired their weapons on vehicles. Elsewhere in the city, he says, officers located "Three buses -two Coast Line bus line and one of the company Star Oro- five vehicles and a motorcycle, all with laden with gunshot fire, apparently caliber .223 (AR-15). "

The State Coordinator of Education Workers (CETEG) condemned the attack and announced  a plan of action against education reform, and it will include a requirement to punish those responsible for the death of the two normal school students. 

Peter David García López, representative of the Student Executive Committee Ayotzinapa said: "as we were asking for fundraising assistance" as It was, he spoke to the truck drivers and "they agreed to do us a favor, it was not an abduction or threat to a driver, we were going to do, because we are students. We proceeded to the buses from the center to the plaza, here, to move on to the normal school. The bus had already dropped its passengers", he said. 

Family members in Iguala grieving. 

Family members in Iguala grieving. 

"Peers have videos that show that it was the (police) state and federal who were there. At that time the police started shooting at three buses and that's when a classmate got hit and fell. "

On December 12, 2012, along the Autopista del Sol, in Chilpancingo, two students were killed. And on January 7 on Atoyac two other youths were hit, while they were engaged in fundraising activites along the Acapulco-Zihuatanejo highway. 

Reports of wounded 

The state Health Secretary Lazaro Mazon Alonso, reported that 18 people were reported injured in the violence in Iguala, 14 were hospitalized and cared for by health sector personnel in the same locality; two more in the ISSSTE, IMSS Acapulco -one with a bullet in the eye, and another in a private hospital, he said. He said that of the 14 wounded under his responsibility, five were discharged, one died at 5 in the morning and one underwent surgery. One was moved to Mexico City and another remains in intensive care. The rest continue to live in Iguala. 

Meanwhile, state police in coordination with the Army, Federal Police and judicial police took control of the safety of Iguala. This was announced by the State Secretary of Public Security, Leonardo Vazquez. He said that from Saturday take control in Igualan municipality until it is deemed necessary. 

______________________________________________________________________________

LA VERDAD

Ahora, los detalles así comunicados a mi, departe de una compañera ahí en la zona. Lo que se reporta departe de los periodistas no es todo la historia completa - in truth, though some of the details are correct, some parts haven't been reported out- and thanks to Bryan Parras and a mutual friend, we are able to get the whole story. 

The whole picture is this - the "students" in this horrific event are adult students currently attending a teacher college in the rural outskirts of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero (Gro), a small town located about an hour and a half from Iguala. The school is unique a it is dedicated to serving a mostly indigenous population. Originally founded in 1926, La Escuela Normal Rural - Raúl Isidro Burgos, (click the bold words for the school) better known as Escuela Normal Rural de Ayotzinapa, is dedicated to producing creative, honest teachers from - "una institución formada de hombres libres, íntegros, de profesionistas que sean dignos representantes de la carrera magisterial; hombres concretos, desarrollándose en situaciones concretas".  

Students in protest. 

Students in protest. 

Sin duda, estos jovenes son hechos de concreto. There are over 300 students, a majority of them from rural tribus, ranchos, y el mismo pueblo de Ayotzinapa. They are bilingual students who speak Spanish and either Nahuatl or Mixteco. Their only goal? TO BECOME TEACHERS. They want to live some crazy dream of being teachers and get jobs and go back into the very tribes they are from and TEACH THE CHILDREN OF THEIR TRIBES.  

As both Bryan and I got to listen to the frantic revelations from that Friday/Saturday nightmare, our source was able to tell us about these young men and women - they come from high up in the hills and the mountains in the area just to attend school. They travel on foot at least an hour to go to school, a school that up until 30 years ago had been funded by the government. But is no longer the case. But they still come and they still graduate, they are students and fundraisers. They are a thorn in the side of the police and the city officials in Iguala to be sure.

After all, who wants to be reminded that you are overlooking the indigenous populations of your state?  

In truth, the night of Sept. 27th isn't the first time the students have had their run in with police forces in Iguala. 

On December 12th (Día de La Virgen de Guadalupe), 2011, two "Normalistas" - as the students are called, were killed by police forces. Ayotzinapa Normalistas Gabriel Echeverría de Jesus and Jorge Alexis Herrera Pino were shot just outside the capital city of Guerrero, Chilpancingo. The students bodies were found along the Autopista del Sol. 

Two years after the fact, the rest of the "Normalistas" post a message in commemoration to their fallen schoolmates - photo taken in December of 2013. 

Two years after the fact, the rest of the "Normalistas" post a message in commemoration to their fallen schoolmates - photo taken in December of 2013. 

You might wonder why the police would think these students are a threat. Right now, we don't have reasonable answer.  Aside from the fact that the Mexican government has slowly stopped funding "Escuelas Normales Rurales" and that these students keep refusing to end educational pursuits, it could be they don't want any dissenters.   These students are asking for change and reform for their school and their community and for some, this has proven to be a point of combat. But the "Normalistas" press on.  How? 

Let's go back to Friday, Sept. 27th. Several news sources quote the police and make reference to police reports that the students were pursued because they were trying to hijack city buses that night.  The truth of it was that they were trying to head home after a day of organized fundraising - and what were they fundraising for?  An already planned trip to el Distrito Federal (DF), the capitol of México, in order to take part in the 46th anniversary events of el 2 de Octubre.   They were students, planning a field trip to attend a protest, or a rally or a memorial service. The bottom line is they were students being students, doing college student things.  Getting shot was not a part of the experience.  

But sadly, this isn't the end of the issue.  Since the E.N.R. de Ayotiznapa currently has a student body of 300 students, about 200 of them had gone to the fundraising event in Iguala on the night of Sept. 27th. Of the 200, 4 have been killed, 4 have been injured, 1 has been in a vegetative state (if he has not already unplugged from his breathing machines) and another 67 have gone missing. Entirely missing. The students loaded up on three buses - all heading out of town, heading back to Ayotiznapa. But they never got to town. Two of the buses are completely unaccounted for and the last bus was later found on Sunday, full of bullet holes and shredded tires. No students or remains have been found.    

Currently, a multitude of family members have gone back into Iguala looking for any clues- literally going door to door inquiring about the whereabouts to their children.  The word on the street is that the cartels in the area were working with the police against the "Normalistas" - (witnesses on the road near the bus full of high school soccer players, said they saw an unmarked car firing into the bus as well as the cops). The fear is that either the police or the cartels have the remaining 67 "Normalistas".  Right now that is the question: Where have the 67 gone?

Press conference in Iguala after parents arrive to search for missing students. 

Press conference in Iguala after parents arrive to search for missing students. 

This hasn't made the news here in the U.S - you won't catch it on CBS or NBC or any of the American news stations. You have to read about it, and even then, some of the details might be a little off. Just read, and read and pray and read. 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

If you are connected to news sources or know of media (both corporate and independent), then tell them about the story. This was an event that did away with almost 1/3 of a school population. It is a massive F*CKUP on the part of the governance and the police of the city of Iguala.  Show them this link - Acción Urgente    The global community has to know what is taking place in Guerrero. The Center for Human Rights in the Mountains - Tlachinollan or Centro de derechos humanos de la montaña is one of the groups that is calling for attention to be called forth upon the mayor's office in Iguala, and the governor's office as well. The more international pressure is placed on the adminstradores en Guerrero, es posible que les llame la atención y actuen para encontrar los desaparecidos.  Esperamos que si.  Press on, gente, press on.  

Spread the word. Keep up with the news. Understand that militarized police action against students isn't just an American issue, its a global issue.  I hope that certain detractors (those that name the women and children coming across the "southern border", as a negative event, not a humanitarian crisis), see this as well. If we ask, why is it that some people are willing to risk their lives to cross over, those detractors haven't seen the major issues plaguing people in their own lands. No one who is searching for education should be terrorized.  

* Many thanks to Bryan Parras and our contact in Iguala, Gro, MEX. 


And now, the tease: 

 






Words Rise, Over the Skies, Out of Your Breath

¿Que Pasa, Calabasa? -

Thanks for reading up on this blog again. I am a few days over due (like a week) just ignore that. I promise to be on time for the next one - look at it this way - you will get the next blog really close to this one... great stuff, ¿no? 

ON WITH THE TEASE

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So this lovely book - EVERYTHING BEGINS AND ENDS AT THE KENTUCKY CLUB - is Benjamin Alire Sáenz's latest work. I think I mentioned it before in another blog post, but I wanted to get more in depth with it. (MY copy is on its way. One day, I will get it signed by the man, making sure I do not act all geeky or aguitado in front of him and more like a grad student, unless he says "hello, sure I will sign it" or "not a problem, hombre, give me the book", then all bets are off as I will probably pass out. - The guy works at my UTEP - PICKS UP!!!) Saenz's book, won the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award - it is the first time any Latino writer has even done so. Its pretty bad ass!!  I for one can't wait to get my hands on it - and hopefully one day, I get to take class with the man. 

Here is bit of a blurb from the news from UTEP's website!!
- Renowned novelists Walter Kirn, Nelly Rosario, and A.J. Verdelle served as judges for the prize, considering more than 350 novels and short story collections by American authors published in the United States in 2012. Submissions came from 130 publishing houses, including small and academic presses. First awarded in 1981, the prize is named for Nobel Prize winning novelist William Faulkner, and Sáenz is the first Hispanic writer to receive it.

“He's one of the most prolific writers I have ever met, sometimes producing two books in one year, like he did this year,” said Saenz’s colleague Associate Professor of Creative Writing Daniel Chacon. “Both of those books have gone on to win amazing prizes and to get positive critical attention.”

In speaking about his experience as co-host of KTEP-FM’s (88.5) “Words on a Wire” radio program with Sáenz, Chacon said, “We have the chance to talk to some of the greatest writers in the country, and together we are able to extract a lot of valuable information and advice from these writers, but the ironic thing is that Ben himself is one of the country's most distinguished writers.”

Judge A.J. Verdelle praised Saenz’s mastery of language.

“In Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club, his 20th published book,

Benjamin Alire Sáenz shows how decades working at your craft gives birth to might and mastery ... He presents a rendering of reality that is lush, tender, expansive, inclusive and profound. The author takes stunning care with language — English, Spanish, and the languages of sunlight, daylight, dimlight, night light — twisting and tumbling with the whispered language of the human heart. Sáenz also devotes impressive attention to rendering communities on the borders of the United States and Mexico, on the boundaries of sensual and sexual expression, on the edge of despair, and on the cusp of redemption.”

SO, there you go. Oh yeah, here is one last bit. - 

TEXAS, RISE... TESTIFYING TO SAVE ETHNIC and GENDER STUDIES!!

Ok, so let me catch you up on why I am little late with my bloga duties. I wouldn't have missed it for anything else, really - but sometimes battle plans and actions must happen quick as lightening. Wednesday, the same day as I would plan on working on the blog, also became the day my compadres y comadres in the LIBROTRAFICANTE MOVEMENT traveled to Austin, TX to hear the presenting of HB1938 - the twin to SB1128 - both bills would seek to change up a 1955 law that requires college students to take 6 hours of Texas or U.S. History courses to fulfill the requirement for getting a degree. This new set of bills, if passed would want to see students take courses that meet the requirement so long as the classes were about "a comprehensive course of U.S. or Texas History". The problem:  1) No one, including the creators of the bills have defined what "comprehensive U.S. History" is 2) the creators of the bill - including Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) and Congressman Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake) both Tea Party Republicans have both used a scary report created by a heavy handed Republican group - the National Association of Scholars, named Recasting History: Are Race, Class and Gender Dominating American History?  - with a name like that, and the research results within, it makes comments they make - that they aren't after ethnic studies or cultural relevance in U.S. History, all the more disingenuous. 3) if the bill succeeds, then gateway classes that may lead into women's studies and ethnic studies, may be turned into electives, signifying that their importance would be minimal. Basically, if you want to study history from the perspective that includes African- Americans from Slavery to Civil Rights, then do it, but it wouldn't count for credit to your degree... let that sink in. Riiiiiiight. 

So, the bill was heard on Wednesday- and I have to say Thank you, Mil Gracias, Obrigado to my principal, Diana Del Pilar. I came to her and asked if I could take the afternoon off to go testify against the bill and without batting an eye - "Mendez, you need to go, our kids need you to go". It says a lot about where her priorities are for our school community and her respect for me as an educator. I will forever be in her debt.  - We packed it up from Houston and along with 22 other folks testified on the bill (3 for, 19 against- 2 of which were people Capriglione brought himself and a 20 yr. old kid dressed up as Paul Revere), and it was an amazing moment to be an American. The House Committee on Higher Education eventually figured out that the majority of us came from OUTSIDE of Austin to speak against the bill and they were impressed. - But the work is not done. The bill was left pending - so now, WE must call (yes, this includes you if live in Texas) and let them now that the bill is no good - that they must vote NO on HB1938. Here are the numbers to get a hold of the members - 

Dan Branch - Chair
(512) 463-0367
(512) 322-9935 (fax)

Diane Patrick - Vice Chair
(512) 463-0624
(512) 463-7275 (fax)

Roberto R. Alonzo
(512) 463-0408
(512) 463-1817 (fax)

Travis Clardy
(512) 463-0592
(512) 463-8792 (fax)

Drew Darby
(512) 463-0331
(512) 499-3978 (fax)

Donna Howard
(512) 463-0631
(512) 463-0901 (fax)

Armando "Mando Martinez
(512) 463-0530
(512) 463-0849 (fax)

Jim Murphy
(512) 463-0514
(512) 463-8715 (fax)

John Raney
(512) 463-0698
(512) 463-5109 (fax)

and click here if you want the link to the video of that meeting. - You have to see and hear all the testimony - get popcorn and fast forward to Paul Revere, that guy was a hoot. (Mas Puto) WARNING - the meeting itself lasted from 2pm til 10:00pm - yep, and HB1938 was the last bill to be heard. So we stayed. That's What's Up. 

¡ME VOY A UNA QUIENCEÑERA!

So, 15 years ago, April 22, in 1998, a young Tony Diaz and a few friends started a new venture: let's start highlighting Latino Literature, Latino Poetry and the folks who write it. Let's do it in the party room of Chapultepec Restaurant. Let's talk about "our words" - NUESTRA PALABRA. - and so it went and it is still going. I am proud to say I am a 14 year veteran of the group and I wouldn't trade it for the world. It has given me the opportunity to meet, discuss and argue with some of the best Latino writers in the country and it has helped mold me into the kind of leader, writer and poet I am today. I am forever grateful to Tony and the gang for all the energy, all the diversity of thought and all the bad -assness we bring, from the book tours, to the showcases, from the book festivals to the radio shows, from the literary throw-downs to educational forums, seguimos adelante. Always mas, mucho mas.  - 

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This Sunday, I invite you to join us in Baytown, at the Yepez Vineyard - a Latino owned and operated business as we celebrate our 15 years of Latino Literary work.

HERE ARE THE DETAILS - remember, it is a fundraiser as well (we gotta pay some bills): 

You're invited to the 15th anniversary celebration of Nuestra Palabra "Latinos Having Their Say" on Sunday, April 21 from 3:00-6:00 p.m., at Yepez Vineyard. $50 per person or $80 per couple (any pair a couple) Includes Hors d’oeuvres, dessert & wine. Attire is summer casual. 

RSVP by April 17 to Laura Acosta at lacosta4040@gmail.com or text 832-414-3651.

Pay online-
$50 per person:
https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=BZYBBQ34DR3WS
$80 per couple: 
https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=PUE3SE4WXMJ3L

HOPE YOU CAN JOIN US!!!  
I will be serving as the OFFICIAL NUESTRA PALABRA POETRY BUSKER - that means that you give me a topic, idea or feeling, and I will write you a poem on the spot. 

I'MMA SLAM YOU!!
Ok, so a few weeks back, I took part in amazing poetic process - I served as a judge at a poetry slam- but not any poetry slam - THE POETRY SLAM, the one that decides the next team to serve as the HOUSTON VIP POETRY SLAM TEAM (when I say this, you have to all collective yell "the treatment", right after, trust me it hilarious - get it? VIP, treatment? Shuddup!) Truth be it known, that was an amazing night and I got to see a plethora of amazing performance and slam poetry and create history. SO, I wanted to take the time and include the members here. Right now, I only have a few bios, so what I will do is give you what I have, and then little by little spot light the rest of the team (Rooster, if you read this, give me your bio, duh). 

First up:
DULCIE DAVID - Dulcie “Digh” David is a singer-songwriter, poet and teacher. She is the co-coach for Meta-Four Houston, and teaches Creative Writing to 9th graders at Sam Houston MSTC. A 2008 Teach For America alumni, Digh spends most of her free time trying to convince people that kids need slam poetry in schools. She holds a Bachelors in Arts degree in History and Creative Writing from Texas A&M, Corpus Christi. **** Dulcie is as beautiful as she is smart, witty as she is a bad ass. 

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IN JUST A FEW HOURS -

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If you are in Houston and are looking something booky to do, then head over to the Menil - the HOUSTON INDIE BOOK FEST is pretty neat. Today, I get host a table for NP and show off some of my wifey's poems and art work by Lizbeth Ortiz - here are some details about today:

The Houston Indie Book Festival is hosted by Gulf Coast and the Menil Community Arts Festival through a collaboration with The Menil Collection the Council of Literary Magazines and Presseat Menil Park ( view map).

The 2013 festival will be on Saturday, April 20 from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The event  is completely free and open to the public and remains the only one of its kind in the Houston and Austin areas, featuring a variety of nationally-distributed literary journals and small-press books alongside local booksellers, book and magazine publishers, small presses, literary organizations, and writers.

Click HERE, to get more info.  Show up!!!  Let's talk!!!

LAST BUT NOT LEAST - A WAR OF WORDS (KINDA...)

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This is now a tradition - see we have friends - fellow bad ass poets from Baton Rouge who make their way to the Houston Indie Book Fest and since we first met them, we worked on sharing some drinks and some words on a stage - thus the INTERSTATE POETRY SHOWDOWN is a hot minute of fun! This year, reppin' Houston is remarkable poets Stephen Gros and Chris Wise and from Baton Rouge Vincent Cellucci and Chris Shipman. Should be awesome. YOU SHOULD COME BY!! everything starts at 6:30, so get it together... 

With that, I get to close out the blog post, but of course, not with out one last thing: 

THE TEASE - 

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You Should See What Writers Can Do.

Buenas Tardes Gente, 

Welcome back!!  Hope all is well on your side of the screen. Happy Mardi Gras and if you celebrate, then I hope this Ash Wednesday was a good time of reflection. Que te sigue lo bueno.  These last two weeks have been amazing for literature and writing in my world and the whole of Houston and it doesn't seem to be taking a break. - So let me fill you in on more events and details.

If you saw last weeks post, then you saw this last flyer:

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Now, here are the details as promised - From Marlon Lizama himself 
"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 Feb. 24th from 8 to 1am.
The event is for fans of art, music and poetry who are 21 & up. 
Where: - House of Blues ( 1204 Caroline St. 77002 -Foundation Rm.)

If you are interested in tickets for the event, click here.

Please, support the local art scene!! This should be an amazing event.

SO you might be wondering what's before this particular event, huh? (Humor me.) 

THIS Saturday, get ready for the 10 year anniversary of one of Houston's finest poetry shows - Starving Poets: Poetic House Party.


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Here are the details:

The Poetic House Party of the decade hosted by the Starving Poets will be a night to remember in February. Live music, poetry and a few special surprises and guest. Be a part of history and dont miss what everyone will be talking about for years to come.

10 Year Anniversary
Starving Poets: Poetic House Party - Poetry, Spoken Word & Soul
Friday, February 15 at 8:00PM
Purchase Tickets: 1-866-811-4111
www.starvingpoets.org

Featuring:
HBO Def Poet Rock Baby
Savannah Blue, Houston National Slam Team
Donte Newman, TED, TSU Poet
DJ G Woody
More TBA

and Saxophonist Stephen Richard + Band

Host:
PJ
Outspoken Bean
2-Die-4

at AvantGarden
411 Westheimer
Houston, TX 77006
Btw Taft and Whitney

Well, if you are a romantic and a fool in love or just want a chance to get your hands on some intense art and poetry, then look no further: 

ART & VERSE - 

You can join in on an intimate event highlighting the talented work of Lizbeth Ortiz and the lovely words of my better half, Jasminne Méndez(I never introduced her to you guys, did I? OOPS.) Check out her blog and Lizbeth's website. They are highly remarkable artists and our event ART & VERSE gives them the opportunity to shine. 
Not only will you get a chance to hear and see the art and the poetry, you will get a chance to take a part of it home with you, as both ladies have collaborated to create a set of postcards, one side depicting Lizbeth's work and the other, a poem specifically written for the image. Kinda neat, yes?  Here are the details: 

Saturday, February 16th, 2013 ( very Valentine's Day-ish)
2:00pm - 4:30pm @ Casa Ramirez FOLKART Gallery - 241 West 19th St., Hou,TX 77008
Light snacks and drinks to be provided, courtesy of Casa Ramirez

This next part is really me, trying to get YOU, to support Latino Cinema. No, for real, please support Latino Cinema. Point Blank. There are amazing stories that need to be told. OUR stories need to be told (soapbox ends) and only we can make that happen, so SUPPORT!!  Here is a classic that if FINALLY being brought to the screen: 

BLESS ME, ULTIMA by Rudolfo Anaya. Its an amazing book. A controversial text (¿Por que? - Sabra Dios) that has finally come to the big screen. 

blessme.jpg

So this last week, I had the honor of getting a sneak peak of the film - y fue  espectacular. The seats were packed, the audience entranced and the mood was right. So, if you are a fan of Mexican American Literature (or read the book once, a looooooong time ago), love images of mysticism, and tender period pieces, then please, please, go support this movie. You can see the movie preview below:

The film opens February 22nd NATIONWIDE, asi es que agarra tu gente, tus amigos y vamonos al cine.

OK, so with all that coming through, I think this is where I get to tell you a little bit about what I have been up to (aside from readings and stuff).  Lately, poetry/literary events have been keeping me busy for more than a month now and show no signs of stopping. I have just finished my commitment to Public Poetry - having served as one of the selection committee members for this past 2012-2013 year (if you want more info on that , take a look here ) and those readings have been sheer joy to attend. A new selection committee has just been organized and they are already choosing this next year's set of poets for the year. 
      Aside from that, I am with pad and pen constantly writing so I don't go crazy and still working on my MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) in Creative Writing. So far, so good. I am now in my 4th class - Advanced Poetry Writing, with the wonderful Sasha Pimentel-Chacón and its kicking my ass. I think more so what's kicking me in the head is working toward a refinement of my poetics, my style and fine tuning my voice. - I am able to write for performance and for the page, but now, I think I am at a point where I want to see how I can intertwine and respect both forms. I am up for the challenge and loving every minute of it. PLUS, its the first time in my educational career that I can say I am a 4.0 student (cross your fingers, that it stays that way, no me den mal de ojo, cabrones. 
          From there, I get to humbly work an incredible group of people with NUESTRA PALABRA: LATINO WRITERS HAVING THEIR SAY. It's been about 14 years since I started working with the group and man, its been an amazing experience. NOW, we get to take the work we do and talk to people about it!  So last year (close enough) we started the LIBROTRAFICANTE MOVEMENT , and now we just received an award - thw 2012 DOWNS INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM AWARD.  On top of that, in a week, we get to talk to students and faculty members at the NACCS TEJAS 2013 Conference about the experience and the insights gained in creating such community around banned books and bringing light to what's happening with Arizona's HB2281 (If you don't know, look it up). If you want to learn more about the conference, click here So far, so good . . . 

And now, I think I will leave you with an event to think about - I think I will always end with a tease of sorts, just to keep you coming back for more - if I get the details correct, this should be coming around Spring Break and on one night, both me and the wifey get to show our writing skills - love when dynamic arts meet :