Thursday, March 13, 2014

Las Chicas Return

If you know me, then you know that I've made it a point of pride to avoid putting on pants for the vast majority of my spring break.

However, yesterday was an exception. I ventured out of my writerly cave  (of course, wearing pants) to spend the afternoon with my fellow "chicks" to discuss future plans for our little unofficial poetry group known as "Chicks with Words."

What is CWW? We SAY we're a group of three women focused on exploring and expanding the definitions of femininity through verse. In reality? We're three crazy gals who like to get together to drink coffee (or wine, depending), talk about poems (or men, depending), and laugh (always). Mary Ann, Linda and myself have been friends for awhile, but we "made it official" when we began participating in poetry readings, conferences, and events as a, well, package deal. Linda is known as "the worker," Mary Ann the "sister" and me, well, you've probably guessed it: I'm the goddess.

Unfortunately, Mary Ann wasn't able to make it to our little coffee-get-together yesterday, but Linda and I did some planning (and a lot of talking about men) yesterday. You see, we have a panel at FESTIBA next week, and we needed to kind of re-articulate our mission. Linda and I decided we were going to focus our panel discussion on gender, and how our friendship has inspired us to explore our own poetics in unique and interesting ways.

So now I have to really think: How has friendship and collaboration with other women shaped the writer I am today? I want to think about specifics, not just a cloudy manifesto type of thing. Linda and I have been swapping poems to one another for years. Mary Ann and I are like the shadow and the light, polar opposites that meet, talk, and never fail to have interesting and inspiring conversations.

I hope that our panel inspires other women to come together, too, in commeraderie, to grow as writers and as human beings. That, after all, is what friends are for.

Chicks need each other. Chicks need words. We've got words to spare.

Our panel will take place on March 21st at UTPA in ARHU 250 at 2:30pm. Join us!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Twenty Anthology Released Today

Cover from Twenty
Twenty: Poems in Memoriam, El Zarape Press, 2014. $10.

A caveat: This isn't a review, an analysis, or an advertisement. It's simply a personal reflection on a book I had the pleasure of working on for the past year or so. 

Twenty was released on Amazon today. It's a collection of poems in response to the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

I remember the day, hearing about the horrible shooting. I was sitting in my car, just listening to the radio, thinking, oh, another school shooting, and then the stark realization that this time it happened at an elementary school. It was a cool day, a grey sky. It was hard for me to believe this world was still a beautiful place.

That night, my good friend Daniel had organized a poetry reading, and I'm so glad they decided not to cancel it, in light of the events. We met at a local BBQ shop, ate, and read poetry into a mic to the small crowd of mostly poets in the establishment. It was a somber evening, and many of the poets were filled with an incredible range of emotions -- from bitter anger to overwhelming sadness to that simple, somber, apathy that comes with giving up, with giving in (that last one was me...).

We decided, after the reading, to write poems outside the restaurant with chalk and in the process, I felt a little better, just a little more alive. We were making the world a beautiful place again, with simple haikus on the sidewalk, illuminated by the warm street lights in the misty night. Surreal.

That's how this anthology came about. It came out of the conversations we, as poets, had that evening. Four of us decided to get together and create this anthology, with Edward Vidaurre taking lead and Daniel Garcia Ordaz of El Zarape Press guiding the way. We might live thousands of miles from the tragedy, but I hope that the humble poems in this anthology will have that same effect as the haikus on the sidewalks had on me that night -- to help rekindle the belief that our world is, indeed, a beautiful place. It's complex. It's cruel and loving. It's warm and cold. It's made up of shadow and light. These poems are, too. And there's beauty there. And healing.

If you're interested in getting a copy of Twenty, it is for sale on Amazon. Partial proceeds from the anthology will be donated to benefit the Newtown community.

Special thanks to my fellow editors, Daniel, Edward and Jose. And to everyone who submitted and contributed to this project. I am honored to play a small part in this.