Tuesday, May 29, 2012

South Texas Writers

Check it out!

I stumbled across this video the other day. It's actually a pretty good sum up of what's going on here in the south Texas lit scene (and no, I don't just say that because I get a nod... ok ok oko k ok maybe I do).

I've just been thinking a lot lately about what we have here in the Valley, and in Texas in general. A lot of times I feel really isolated and alone as a poet, but really, it's all in my head. We have a great poetry community here, and maybe I take it for granted just a little bit. So stumbling on this was particularly timely for me. Anyway, Edgardo runs the Writers of the Rio Grande website and he's the narrator of this little video. He has such a nice raspy Texas voice X-D

So take a little listen, k?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Texas, the Lone Poet State?

Nahhhh... it's not true.

So today Scott Wiggerman of Dos Gatos Press released the cover image for next year's Texas Poetry Calendar. I'm happy to have a poem included in the collection, and join the ranks of other Texas writers. I'll blog about it some more later once I have it in my hands next month. 

Anyway, this just got me to thinking: there's quite a bit going on, poetry wise, in Texas these days. Sure, Texas is no New York or California, but we've got our own off beat scene. Sometimes I feel really isolated as a poet, like there's no one I can relate to or talk poetry with. The internet helps, of course. But, on the other hand, I'd like to take a moment to dig a little deeper, show you (and myself) all the wonderful things going on in the Texas poetry scene!

And if you'd like to add to my list, leave a comment!

Texas Publishers:

Arte Publico Press 

I know they publish a lot of children's books, but upon perusing their site, I notice they also publish poetry, too! They also do a lot of reprints of Latino literature, which is how I came to learn about the press. And they're based in Houston...

Cinco Puntos Press

An independent press based out of El Paso. They publish quite a variety of books!

Dark Sky Books

Now let's just say this small press is doing exciting things... they're now based out of Victoria and are affiliated with The University of Houston, Victoria. And it's run by Brian Carr, which means there's automatically a coolness factor built in.

Dos Gatos Press

Of course, they publish the annual poetry calendar, but they have a lot of other neat stuff, too! In particular, they recently published Wingbeats, which is a collection of poetry exercises that might be particularly useful to poetry groups. They're based out of Austin. Oh, and Scott, one of the editors, is pretty awesome. I met him at AWP!

Mouthfeel Press

Mouthfeel Press is a small, independent poetry press that publishes full length and chapbook manuscripts in both English and Spanish. They're pretty much my favorite press. Maria Miranda Maloney is the founder and publisher, and she has the most amazing team of editors and designers at her side. They're based in El Paso, and maybe I'm biased, but they're my favorite Texas press, mainly because of their commitment to creating and fostering a literary community.

Mutabilis Press

This press is really well known for their anthologies. They're based in Houston, and specialize in publishing local poets. 

Pecan Grove Press

Now I don't have any personal experience with this particular press, but I've heard only good things about them. It looks like they're currently on hiatus from their chapbook competition (booo...), which is too bad because they look like a great place to submit to! Anyway, they're based out of San Antonio.

Slough Press

The Texas crazy small press that was crazy enough to publish my first full manuscript X-D  It's run by the fabulous Chuck Taylor, a creative writing professor over at Texas A&M College Station. The press has been around for... like ever. Which is awesome.

Texas Review Press

Based out of Sam Houston State University, it doesn't get much more established than Texas Review Press. They publish chaps, poetry collections, short story collections, novels, y mas (as in, pretty much everything). They have annual competitions, too.

Valley Artistic Outreach Publishing

Now I don't believe these folks publish poetry collections, but I could be wrong. They do, however, put out anthologies, and are currently open to submissions for Along the River II. This is a new kid in town, been around for a year or so now. I'm eager to see this press go on to do wonderful things in the Rio Grande Valley...

Wings Press

A great small Texas press based out of San Antonio. They have a biannual poetry chapbook contest, which sounds pretty exciting to me! I know of several poets with books from Wings, and again, have heard nothing but positives.

Literary Journals:

 American Letters -- San Antonio
Bat City Review -- Austin
Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review -- Austin
BorderSenses -- El Paso
Carcinogenic Poetry -- Austin
Dappled Things -- Arlington
FortyOunceBachelors -- Austin
Front Porch -- San Marcos
Gulf Coast -- Houston
Haijinx -- Georgetown
Illya's Honey -- Dallas
Iron Horse -- Lubbock
Mayo Review -- Commerce
Molt -- Austin
Overtime -- Plano
REAL --  Nachodoches
Red River Review -- Not sure where this is, but for some reason I think it's Texan.
Reunion -- Dallas
Rio Grande Review -- El Paso
Southwestern American Literature -- San Marcos
Vandal -- College Station
Writers of the Rio Grande -- Rio Grande Valley

Festivals and Events

Austin Poetry Festival
Beat Poetry Fest
Houston Poetry Fest
Poetry at Round Top
Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering
Valley International Poetry Festival

Did I miss something? Please, let me know!

You can email me at katherinehoerth@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

See, we're doing some great things in Texas. We're not all gun toting ignorant cowgirls! Wait, maybe that describes me better than anything else... ;-)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

BorderSenses Featured Artist!

Guess who's the featured artist on the BorderSenses front page?

That'd be me! I'm really honored to work with such an awesome journal. You see, I met the director of the nonprofit organization at AWP earlier this year. She was amazingly kind to me and organized a book signing for me there. And now, yay, I'm on their website!

Anyway, you want to check it out, don't you? Don't go drawing a mustache on my face, ok????

Katie as Featured Artist on BorderSenses

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Garden of Dresses Now Available!

It's official!

My second chapbook was just released by Mouthfeel Press and is available for order, a real steal at just $6! You can order directly from the publisher here.

So, what's this crazy book about, anyway?

Now that's a good question! No one answers this better than my blurbers:

 "Whoever dreamed that peeling an orange or selecting a grapefruit could be such a sensuous experience? In these juicy poems of the Rio Grande Valley, Katherine Hoerth invites the reader into a world dripping with pleasure and delight." --- Steven Schneider, author of Borderlines: Drawing Border Lives, Prairie Air Show, and Unexpected Guests

"The Garden of Dresses is the sexual awakening not only of the speaker(s), but of objects, characters, places. Katherine’s poems relentlessly make the readers come up close to the images, and, more than read the poems, they savor them."--Laura Cesarco Eglin, author of Sastreria and Llamar al aqua por su nombre.

"These poems speak to a complicated femininity, ancient and modern, dangerous and vulnerable, passionate as a lioness or a butterfly...here are moments in the journey of the poet's ripening--from ripening body and sexuality to ripening compassion and awareness..."-- ire'ne lara silva, author of furia.

 And while I'm at it, wouldn't you love a little sample? Ok, here's the collection's namesake poem, "The Garden of Dresses"

Garden of Dresses

I step across the threshold of Eden
into this eve’s paradise, the light
illuminates the blushing temptations,
hanging from branches above. Long ago

I denied myself the taste
of pomegranate on my lips
and let my flesh give way
to rib bone, so I could stand
naked, in front of my own gaze.
I reach up, pluck a piece
of little black paradise
from the vine. It bursts
into bloom as the zipper opens

and invites me inside.
I pull the silky skin across
my body, up my sanded toothpick
legs, empty hipbones, hourglass
waist. And that forbidden fruit
caresses my flesh covered bones.
My nipples perk as silk
glides over, and I slip my shoulders
inside.  I stare at how we look
together – my Louis Vuiton
wrapped tight around
me, and I can’t help but long

for closure. I grasp
at the zipper, just out of reach.


I call,

I still need you
to zip me up.

Poem first published in Ellipsis Literature and Art, Spring 2012

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Little Narrative...

I'm thinking about working on this a bit more to create a narrative poem in blank verse, but eh, here's my "scrap." 

When did you fall from grace?

I remember it was summertime; the last of the wildflower blooms still clung to the trees and the air was already dry with the onslaught of heat. I was skating down the streets, slicing into the pavement with my rollerblades, hot breeze on my oily skin and the taste of watermelon on my lips. My mind must have been in the clouds as it always was, daydreaming about, surely, some boy who knew how to play guitar, throw a football, or drive a pickup.

I heard a whistle from behind, then a voice call, “Hey, pretty girl, where you going so fast?”
When you hear someone say “pretty girl,” you’re not supposed to turn around, but I thought I was hot shit and knew they were talking to me. I looked over my shoulder and slowed.

Three young men walked behind me, one wore a goofy smile, another a wife beater, the third, I can’t even remember. He probably had a creepy mustache. “Hey, pretty girl, how old are you?” his words like fingertips testing the ripeness of a peach.

I sneered. I turned my back, raised a fist up to the sky, and outstretched my middle finger.

I thought they’d burst into laughter, but instead, all I heard was a mockingbird’s coo. I glided across the pavement, heart pounding beneath my sports bra, smile cutting into my face.

As I turned a sharp corner, I lost my balance and felt my knees scrap against the road. My body thumped to the ground. The first thing I remember doing was glancing back, relieved to see, I think, that the men hadn’t witnessed my fall from grace. I didn’t want a hand to help me up.

I like to think that if Eve were a gringa in South Texas, her story would be like mine; that she would decide when to pluck a pomegranate from the tree, when to sink her teeth into the flesh of a Rio Red toronja.  

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Being a Poet

Being a practicing poet is a totally manic existance, for me anyway.

This week's been a week of ups and downs. I got the whole spectrum of writerly experiences. I got the world's sweetest acceptance letter:

 Dear Katherine,
Every one of these poems is a breath-taking delight to read. I am excited to be able to include my three favorites in our volume...."

Followed by one of those absolutely maddening "you almost made it" letters from one of my favorite journals, which said something to the effect of:

"You made it past the slush, we liked your work, in particular poem X BUT we don't love you enough to take it. Sorry. Try again, please, try again."

 I'm paraphrasing, obviously.


and then those wonderful form rejections? Yeah, got one of those too:

Thank you for the opportunity to read your submission. After careful consideration, we have concluded that we are unable to publish your work at this time

Funk you!


Gwahhhhh and on top of all this -- I'm not writing. Well, not writing what I'd like to be writing. I had to finish up a scholarly paper (woohoo....) and then am working on PR stuff for my book. Not fun. This stuff is numbing my creative brain. She needs a boost, a vacation, a... something.

Ups and downs. I'll never get used to this craziness. I've been doing this awhile now, and I still can't get over it. Oh well. Coffee helps. So does alcohol. Ups and downs...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spring 2012 Comes to a Close

Well well well....

We're rounding out the semester; I've posted my grades, turned in my final paper for the postcolonial lit class I'm auditing, and now I'm finding myself strangely... unbusy! Even my advising duties are slowing down, and it feels... peculiar.

Summer's so close I can smell it! Though, it smells more like rain, westerly winds, and hail stones these days. We've been having some awfully odd weather in El Valle the past month or so. Blazing heat and clear skies (which is totally normal) intermixed with these really violent storms. Those palm trees? That picture was taken by me a few days ago, just outside my office at UTPA. Today, they look about the same...

Anyway, I feel like life's begun to calm, the calm before the big storm. Hah... ok, I'm being cliched and melodramatic, yes... but I'm twiddling my thumbs, waiting for the publication of my next two books, waiting for the hailstones to fall.

So with the summer coming up, my life's going to change again. I'm planning a book tour! I'll be making stops throughout most big cities in Texas, which will be fun and scary at the same time. I feel like El Valle's my cozy place; whenever I have a reading, there's enough familiar faces in the crowd so that I don't freak out. But say, in Houston? San Antonio? Dallas? I'll be talking to strangers... I left El Paso out intentionally. Yes, I plan on stopping in El Paso but I think it'll be a little less scary than the others :-)

Anyway, you know I work best when I have goals, right? So here are my "summer goals" -- things I hope to have accomplished by the close of August (and the start of the semester's craziness):

1. Finish What Plagues the Goddess chapbook

I'm about... oh, halfway done? And now I'm already thinking of a NEW project. But I need to finish my old one! I can't abandon her when she's come this far! Such is life. Anyway, by August, I'll have this manuscript done and ready to submit

2. Finish The Memories of Benjamin Brutus, my first novel

Hah, how many times has this been on my "to do" list? Forever. I know. I'm dragging my feet. I keep wanting to change the story, and I'm afraid to finish. NO MORE! Even if it's crap, I'll feel much better when I at least get to "the end" and can go back and work on rewriting it (maybe).

3. Study for and retake the GRE (ughhhhhh)

No need for commentary here.

4. Rework my two essays on Jovita Gonzalez and Isabel Allende.

Get them to a happy place! So I, too, can be in a happy place.

5. Successfully complete book tour without having nervous breakdown.

This goes without saying.

And of course, enjoy all that summer in South Texas has to offer, which includes tracking hurricanes (a favorite hobby of mine), swimming, remodeling the house (ok, supervising workers remodeling the house), and roadtrips. Roadtrips. For work and pleasure. Pleasure.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Katie's VIPF 2012 Experiences

So I'm finally breathing again...

Man oh man, I've had a wild past few days... between working on a research project, grading my students' portfolios, reviewing gallies for the nth time, and working freshmen orientations at the university, enter, the Valley International Poetry Festival last weekend.

I think I'm finally getting caught up on sleep.

Anyway, I had a fantastic time. Even though I've been insanely busy, I think I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully my life can start getting back to some sort of normalacy where I can focus on writing, submitting, and just... BREATHING :-)

Anyway... the valley international poetry festival... I'll blog a little bit about that!

By the way, I've been a VIPF regular since ::drum roll please:: 2009! Can you believe that? And the festival keeps getting better with age.

Thursday, April 26th

The Boundless Anthology release reception! It was held at the McAllen Creative Incubator, and I had a blast. In fact, I think this was my favorite event of the entire festival, and it was the kick off, so what a way to start, yeah? Anyway, all of the anthologized poets got together to celebrate the release and mingle.  Here are a few pictures from the night:

Here's the group picture of all the anthologized poets. Me, well, you know who I am. But yeah. The anthology this year I think is the best one yet! It's available on amazon and I have three poems included!

 After we all had our group picture taken, the readings commenced! Here's the fabulous Amalia Ortiz, who I had the absolute pleasure of introducing. I met Amalia a few years back at the 2010 VIPF. She's a Valley native and HBO Def poet extrodinaire!

She read one of her anthologized poems, and I just remember LOVING it. It was about a dancer who couldn't shake the rhythm of the city from her hips. Amalia's amazing. I never never never get tired of hearing her read. Anyway, other featured poets that read this year were Trevor Wainwright, Lady Mariposa, and Oscar Pena. It was wonderful to hear so many poets from other areas, too!

Ah, here's the man with the plan, Daniel Garcia Ordaz. He's the founder of VIPF, looking all spiffy here in his tie. Daniel's a Valley poetry staple. Not only is he a great poet, but I think he's the best M.C around.

Now Daniel loves giving me a hard time -- don't let that innocent face fool you. Here's me, walking up to the mic to read my lovely little poem about a flower. I don't remember exactly WHY I was wagging my finger so, but I can imagine it was at Daniel.

Oh, oh, and check out that book in my hand! Yep, that's Boundless 2012. I think this year's anthology is by far the best. Did you know it was a best seller in Amazon? Why yes, yes it was! It hit #2 in New Anthology Releases. Ok, so maybe the competition wasn't too stiff but whatever.

Anyway, when I got up to the mic, I reminded everyone that my poem was about a flower, A FLOWER, a flower... but of course, of course, I have a reputation as a "sexy" poet and no one believed me. So for the remainder of the evening, people were declaring that their poems, too, were about "flowers" ahhhh.... right.


And here I am with two other antholigzed poets, Linda Romero and Lady Mariposa. See our official looking name tags?

Lady Mariposa WAS a Valley poetry staple, too, for years and years. She recently moved up to Washington State, but Daniel brought her down for the festival. It was great to see her again!

And Linda? Well, we're just really good friends :-) I met her back when I was working on my MFA.

Anyway, all in all, it was a fantastic night. I ended up heading home once the reception was over, since, well, the next day I had to go to work and had about a million things on my "to do" list. It sure was a great evening, though. I always love these receptions every year. I can't wait for 2013!

Friday, April 27th

Friday's main event was the poetry slam! I went with the intention of just watching, maybe throwing back a few glasses of wine, and relaxing with some friends, maybe meeting a few new people. The event was held at Peace and Coffee in Edinburg, which is really close to the university where I work. So, I was really looking forward to a relaxing evening. Left, that's me! Well, my back's turned to the camera. And facing the camera? That's Kelly Ellis, a poet who came from Houston to attend the festival! On stage? You guessed it, Amalia Ortiz.

Now, this is something I promise you'll never see again. Daniel came up to me and asked me, real nicely, if I would participate in the slam. "NO!" I shout. And then I get one of those sad faces...

He needed a "sacrificial lamb" to go first, get the judges warmed up. I don't know if it was the ambiance, or maybe the wine, or maybe I was just really not thinking straight but... somehow I agreed. And there I am up on stage, "slamming." This will never, I repeat "NEVER" happen again.

Lady Mariposa was the 2012 Slam Champion! She knows how to do it properly. Me? I'm a goddess. And goddesses aren't very good at slam. Anyway, Lady Mariposa was also the champion back in the first festival! So, how appropriate, right? :)

 Oh! Here's the Slam crew! From Left, Edward Vidaurre, Sean Elliot, Lady Mariposa, and Amalia Ortiz. What a fantastic photo!

I was tired, ready to call it a night. After all, the big day of the poetry festival is always on Saturday! So this goddess needed her beauty rest.

Saturday, April 28th

Saturday at VIPF usually consists of early morning workshops, a whirlwind of readings throughout the entire Valley, from Mission to the Padre Islands and sometimes even a few across the river in Mexico (see, it's not called the INTERNATIONAL poetry festival for no reason!). I'm yet to experience this craziness to its fullest, mainly because we always have entering freshmen orientation this particular day at the university. And... well, work comes first. This year was no exception. Sadly, I missed the morning readings :( And didn't make it until the "Afternoon Delight" reading at Jitterz coffee shop in Mission (which is one of my favorite venues here in the Valley to read at, by the way).

I actually took this picture! That's Lamar Jones and Sean Elliot, two really talented Spoken Word artists. Sean and Lamar are pretty new additions (that I'm aware of, anyway) to our local poetry scene, and I like what they bring.

And there's me, at the right! Yay! I got to try out some of my latest poems here. I was super nervous because they're poems I've never read before. But I think I did just fine! My new "thing" is to recite my poems rather than read them, so that adds to my nervousness too. I'm always afriad I'm going to get my tongue all tied up. But, that didn't happen :-) I recited 4 of my latest works. After the reading, I had the pleasure of chatting with some out of town poets over a cup of coffee. It sure was nice to meet people from other poetry scenes! I hope to begin branching out of my usual stomping grounds this summer. But of course, I'll be posting that information up once I get it all finalized :-)  

Anyway, at the left is the group picture at the Poetry Pachanga, which I sadly had to miss. By the end of the Jitterz reading, I needed some decompression. I get like that from time to time. While I absolutely LOVE talking with poets, sharing my work, and socializing, there comes a point where I need some introvert time. I spent a quiet evening at home with the BruBru. We fired up the grill and had a good ol' Texas BBQ. It was wonderful to sit back, watch the sunset, and enjoy the peaceful countryside quiet. But.. I missed the Pachanga. Anyway, I'm sure it went on just fine without me, without a doubt.

So next year? Yep. You know I'll be there all over again. I can't wait!