Saturday, February 23, 2013

NACCS 2013 Reflections


Ahh...


I'm coming off an academic high right now.


NACCS 2013 is officially in the books. It was a really great time. Lucky for me, this year, it was at my home institution, UTPA, which meant I was able to take advantage and participate without having to disrupt my teaching!

 My first experience with NACCs this year was probably the best. I was in my classroom yesterday afternoon, erasing the board, cleaning up after my lecture. I'm holding a conversation with a student about her research question while straightening up. Offhanded, I mention that I'm on my way to the conference festivities, and suggest that she take a looksie at one of the panels related to her research on bilingual education.

"Miss..." she says, a smile on her face, "is that the Chicana conference?"

I nod, a little surprised.

"I went to a panel yesterday about grad school," she continues. Grad school?

Now, this kiddo of mine is pretty spectacular. This is the second semester I work with her -- I know, she was crazy enough to take my Comp 2 class! I recently wrote a letter of rec for her to intern this summer in D.C. with our congressman. Anyway, she goes on to explain that the panel was inspiring to her, that it was about why Chicanas need to go to graduate school, to change the landscape and climate of academia. I smiled wide.

If NACCS accomplished absolutely nothing else this year, it did it's job tenfold -- to inspire a young immigrant to continue her education, to broaden her horizon, to realize her goals.

But that wasn't all NACCS accomplished.

Besides mine, I think my favorite panel was one that discussed the importance of the anthology with VAO Publishing, Texas A&M Press, and UT Press. One of the panelists, Dr. Robert Johnson, made a really interesting comment that made a whole lot of sense to me -- that anthologies give an identity to an artistic movement, a definition, a place. The anthologies our humble area produces may not be all that different, some day, from the Modern's anthology, or the Beats. Anthologies DEFINE communities, build them. I never thought of it in this way -- I always just thought of them as a collection of works. Anyway, I was honored to be able to read a poem on that panel, too. It was a little random, but I have a poem coming out in VAO's Juventud! anthology, and the editor, Erika Johnson, asked me to read on the panel as she saw me walk in. Why of course! I exclaimed. I aimlessly walked into the right room, apparently. Thank you, God!

I also attended a poetry reading with Helena Villamontes, which was pretty inspiring as well. It reminded me of the struggle writers have to go through, but that the struggle is what makes us feel alive. She's an amazingly talented writer. I want to work on my novel some more. Ughh so many things I want to do!

Anyway, I'll try to blog again a bit tomorrow about my own panel. I want to add a picture and talk about hopefully the next big thing to happen to the Valley Poetry Scene -- a feminist poetry movement known by no other name than.... CHICKS WITH WORDS.



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