Thursday, March 19, 2015

Poetry Challenge #3

Welcome Back :-)

Today, I thought I'd reflect on my Festiba 2015 experiences. It was a wild ride, though slightly less wild than usual, which, come to think of it, was probably a good thing. 

Festiba our annual celebration of books and literacy over at UTPA. Way back in 2007, I had my first public poetry reading at a Festiba event, so it's a little special to me. Since then, I've always been involved in some form or fashion, and this year was no different.

Thursday

On Thursday, March 5th, I had the pleasure of chauffeuring Pat Mora and her daughter, Libby Martinez. I was scheduled to pick them up at their hotel early in the morning and take them over to Emiliano Zapata Elementary in Mission for their reading and presentation. It was a pretty neat experience! Pat and Libby were so friendly and wonderful, so it was fun driving them around. Zapata Elementary is kind of in the middle of nowhere, though, and I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't a little nervous taking these out-of-towners down some of those streets.

Anyway, we get there to the elementary school, and who is there to greet us? Vanessa Brown, poet extraordinaire and good friend of mine! I had no idea she was the assistant principal there, and so all of the sudden, this nice adventure turned into a great one :-) I sit in on Pat and Libby's presentations, where they read their children's book, I Pledge Alligence, about Libby's great aunt Lobo's journey to becoming a US citizen. Then, we're joined by Rene Saldana, and we all tour the school and had a wonderful lunch. How awesome is it to hang out with such amazing, interesting, and inspiring people? 

Me reading from Goddess Wears Cowboy Boots
After lunch, I had my own panel to get to, so I drop off all three authors back at their hotel and high tail it off to UTPA. Emmy Perez, my former poetry professor, had invited me to come to her class, along with other published poets, to share our work and talk about the publication and writing process. They even had food for us! (More food? really? What's a health-conscious girl to do?) I was the first up, and good thing -- the other poets totally tore it up and stole the show. So, going first, I wasn't too self-conscious. The other presenters included Isaac Chavarria, Rossy Lima Padilla, and Amaila Ortiz.

After the panel, I immediately have to scoot off to class, and after class I'm SUPPOSED to attend an author's reception at the Sekula Library, but... I make an executive decision to hit the gym instead. Because priorities. 

Friday

The following day, I had another panel to go to, which was an absolute joy. It was another installment of our Chicks with Words reading series. Linda Romero and I put the panel together and invited some new "chicks" to our little clique -- Myra Infante and MaryRuth Chen! 

Chicks With Words is all about women's empowerment, about finding our voices, about supporting each other through friendship and community. So that's essentially what the reading was all about. We had a small audience, but the panel turned out to be this really wonderful and inspiring space of sharing our work and talking about the wonders of writing.

I was really inspired by everyone's work, but most especially, MaryRuth's. I had never heard her read before, and she shared what I think must have been a piece of her memoir. It was really interesting -- about femininity, sexuality, and coming of age. Lately, I've been writing creative nonfiction myself about my illness and my body. So, for the first time ever, I decided to share a very personal story about coming to terms with being disabled. Through the lens of shoes :D 

Saturday
The Vidas Cruzadas Panel

Saturday was, thankfully, pretty quiet. I decided to swing by the university for one last panel, this
time as an audience member rather than a participant. I'm glad I did! I checked out the Vidas Cruzadas panel lead by Linda Romero, Isaac Chavarria, and Emmy Perez. They talked about the importance of service learning, particularly through the program that Linda founded years ago for women. What important work! They have a writing therapy group, and students from the university go and mentor as writers. It's just a really amazing idea! I've always wanted to do something similar with my students, though working out the logistics is always a challenge. Anyway, I left the conversation inspired!


So that was my Festiba experience this year. I'll also be selling/signing books at the annual Jardin del Arte, which was unfortunately postponed due to the strangely cold and rainy weather. That's set for March 27th at the Edinburg City Hall. I'm looking forward to it!

Ok, as promised!

Here's poem #3 of the challenge. The theme of Festiba 2015 was "Entre Dos Mundos" so... maybe this fits, in a girlhood/womanhood kind of way. Also, it's in chapter 2 of Goddess Wears Cowboy Boots!

Seasons of Gold

There was a time when summer meant to lie
without a purpose in the fresh-cut grass,
pluck honeyed globes of grapefruit from the trees,
devour them, lick our sticky fingers clean,
to rush through sprinklers, cool our naked ankles,
when days blurred into nights, to weeks, to months
to seasons spent on porches letting night’s
maw swallow us. We’d watch the lightning bugs
illuminate the yard with gold and wonder
what it was that made the world go round.

The warmth of August cools into September.
I realized that days and months make years
that come, abruptly, to a simple end.
That’s why the fireflies dance, to live again,
you said, lit up a pilfered cigarette,

then let me taste forever on your lips.


This was originally published in Amarillo Bay in 2014. 

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