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!


  1. What a wonderful snapshot of the Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival!!! VIPF is glad to have you and such wonderful poets! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Why hello there, Daniel!

    Now that I see you read my blog, I'll have to watch what I say X-D

    Ahh, thanks for putting on another great festival. You're the best! Thanks for stopping in,


  3. Wow, I'm jealous of that whole little community you have. I'm sort of an isolationist by nature, and this made me want to become involved in the poetic community around here (though I probably won't). Keep writing and also I think it's great what you're doing with the rejections.


  4. Hi Elliot!

    You know...

    I am totally guilty of being a hermit from time to time, and I think there's something essentially poetic about taking time to yourself. My brain works best when I'm in my little stereotypical writer cave.
    But the poetry community here, while small, is amazingly supportive. I have people to bounce ideas off of, an audience I'm comfortable with, and several venues that simply feel like home. So... it's worth investigating, I'd venture to say! And if there isn't much of a poetry community where you're at? Do what Daniel did! Make one :-)
    Thanks for stopping in! And yes, I'm still keeping a tally (and a slightly more healthy attitude) towards rejection! Another one bites the dust.




Post a Comment