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The Words, Las Palabras, They Flow Past the City Walls.

Hey Gente,

First off, I must apologize that this blog post comes a day late. Yesterday was filled with so much work that I needed to get around that first. A lot can happen in seven days!!  So, let's get started.  

First with the tease:

       From a first hand account, the TEXAS SALSA CONGRESS is an amazing event. My dear friend and fellow artist, Ruby Rivera, knocks it out of the park with this masterful celebration of dance and music. The salsa congress is made up of dance workshops, presentations and special guest performances from salsa dances of all ages and backgrounds from all over the U.S. It is truly a spectacle and sight to see. You can see the schedule for the 4 day event here

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          The most important aspect of this event is how damn good a job Ruby does to include young, growing dancers. They attend in droves from both coasts and eat up all the workshop opportunities and celebrations. The TEXAS SALSA CONGRESS also serves a second purpose (well two actually) (1) to raise scholarship funds for students as they pursue dreams of a college education and (2) a well deserved "hell yeah, I did it" kind of party, is the ONLY FEMALE organizer of a SALSA CONGRESS. It happens no place else, making Houston home to someone very special. If you can make it to the event, please do. You won't regret it!! (PLUS, you might get to see and the wifey perform on Friday night - yep, Ruby and the CONGRESS are fans of poetry!

MEANWHILE, LAST NIGHT . . .

  I would classify what I was a part of last night as "educational advocacy". In simplest terms, a few local Houston Latino leaders and I got together to being planning H.O.M.B.R.E.S. - Helping Our Men thru Brotherhood, Respect, & Education for Success.
The idea is this: 

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3 mentors will share 5 steps they took up the pyramid. They will share the challenges and obstacles they overcame. This will be followed by our youth tellling tell us what they need from us to help them succeed. If we do not tell our young men how to be adult men, then videos, rappers, and movies will.  Every one is welcome who wants to help our men and young men fulfill their great destinies. - Last night's meeting was a solid step forward. I served as scribe and as everyone talked about either their definitions of the issues our young men are facing or their own backgrounds, I was able to translate that into viable topics for discussion for future meetings. We are still in the planning stages, so stay tuned. A major thank you to TONY DIAZ for spearheading the idea!!

THE WEEKEND IS UPON US . . . 

and sometimes, you will get some info of what happens outside of H-TOWN. Peep this: 

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Yes, you read the flyer right, not in H-TOWN, but in El Paso ("el Chuco"), T!!  A buddy of mine, Roberto Santos, MFA graduate from UTEP, college professor, host and damn good poet has served as the organizer for the BARBED WIRE OPEN MIC SERIES (BWOMS) for over 5 years. That show and that art, shows no signs of slowing down. Its a golden night, that last Saturday of the month. The crowd is appreciative, supportive and on point to hear some poetry and music. The artists are humble and dedicated and Roberto, along with his crew are the people that make it happen. I had the pleasure of being a feature a few months back and it was a grand experience. If you want to get more info about this Saturday's event, then log onto your FB account and get more info here. - and straight from Roberto himself: 

"For this month's edition of the BWOMS we are featuring published poet Robin Scofield, and the poems from her latest book, 'Sunflower Cantos' (Her book will be on sale at the event; see below for author bio). 

We will also have a freestyle cypher at 6:30 and the open mic starting at 7. Anyone can perform any type of creative expression. Vendors are welcome and encouraged to join us at no cost. 

**Author Bio: Robin Scofield** - 

A native Texan, Robin Scofield is the author of Sunflower Cantos, from Mouthfeel Press in El Paso, and has written poetry, memoir, and fiction for 44 years. She was awarded an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at Austin in 1986. She has had poems appear in Paris Review, Western Humanities Review, Theology Today, Poetry Motel, Center: A Journal of the Literary Arts, and Texas Observer. As an experienced editor, she offers manuscript consultations and creative workshops.

She has been a featured reader in several venues, including the El Paso Arts Museum, and she regularly attends The Tumblewords Project, a community-based writing group and is active in regional as well as international literary events, such as the juried San Miguel Poetry Week."

MORE FROM EL PASO 

So I will forever sing the praises from that town! Aside from being an MFA candidate at UTEP (online, too!!), I am totally impressed with the people and places within "El Chuco". There is so much going on that had to make sure to get into it. Here are two examples: 

1) Words On a Wire (yes, click the title) - a radio show hosted by Benjamin Alire Saenz and Daniel Chacón (both MFA -Creative Writing professors at UTEP) that focuses on poetry, fiction, creative writing, memoir writing and more. They conduct interviews with other writers and discuss all things written. Make sure you take a listen. Like their page too. DO THAT HERE

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and 2) THE READER -  an online magazine out of El Paso, Texas. The Literary Muses (8th grade student writers) host various Chicano & Latino guests: poets, novelists, essay, short story, fiction and nonfiction authors, digital and print-media reporters, world-renowned educators and more... Guests visit in person as and via Skype.
Hosted by a prima-hermana Librotraficante there in El Paso, Georgina Cecilia Perez teaches Chicano and Latino Literature to her 8th grade students AND gets them right.
She is doing amazing work, instilling the want of literature and the want of writing to her students. In March, I get to be a part of the program. Truly a blessing!!

So now we bring it back to H-Town!!

If you can make it to no other show, then please join me here:

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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.

And now, to close out this blog post, a small teaser... its something I am about to start reading and give you a little review: 

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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. 

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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 :