Alicia Gaspar de Alba in Austin on May 2nd   RSVP here – seats are limited!


“This is about resistance:” The Feminist Revisions of Alicia Gaspar de Alba

Thursday, May 2, 2019, 4:00pm – 6:00pm

The University of Texas Libraries, The Center for Mexican American Studies, the Center for Women and Gender Studies, and LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections invite you to commemorate the acquisition of the Alicia Gaspar de Alba papers. The multifaceted Chicana queer feminist scholar will be reading from her works and discussing her career with MALS lecturer and community organizer Lilia Rosas. Archival viewing and reception to follow remarks. 


April 6th: San Antonio Book Fair

Now’s not a bad time to play a trip to San Antonio. And if you’re there on April 6th, make sure you stop by the free book fair! The lineup features Carmen Tafolla, Meg Medina, Julissa Arce, David Bowles, Oscar Cásares, Reyna Grande, Jean Guerrero, and I could go on and on. Shoot, check out the list right here!

What a great way to spend the day talking books and meeting authors!

The 7th annual San Antonio Book Festival will take place on April 6, 2019 at the Central Library (600 Soledad) and Southwest School of Art in beautiful downtown San Antonio. The Festival runs from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

March 15-16: The Latino Comics Expo hits Modesto, CA!

THE LATINO COMICS EXPO comes to Modesto Junior College, courtesy of MJC Literature and Language Arts & ASMJC. The nation’s premiere Latinx comics convention will host an exhibitor hall and a variety of panels and workshops celebrating Latinx creators in comics, animation, design, illustration and more!

Admission is free and open to the public. Free parking.

Where!? Modesto Junior College West Campus

2201 Blue Gum Ave, Modesto, CA 95358

Borderless: Conversations on Art, Action, and Justice

Malvern Books in Austin is hosting a very special event on Friday, March 8th from 7-8 pm. Get more information here:


In the interview series Borderless: Conversations on Art, Action, and Justice, emerging and established writers and artists talk with host Chaitali Sen about the power of words and the role of art in reflecting and changing our world. This month’s guest is Monica Muñoz Martinez.

Monica Muñoz Martinez is the Stanley J. Bernstein Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies at Brown University and an Andrew Carnegie fellow. She an award-winning author, educator, and public historian. Her research specializes in histories of violence, policing on the US-Mexico border, Latinx history, women and gender studies, and public humanities. Her first book The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas (Harvard University Press, Sept 2018) is a moving account of a little-known period of state-sponsored racial terror inflicted on ethnic Mexicans in the Texas–Mexico borderlands. She is currently at work on Mapping Violence, a digital research project that recovers histories of racial violence in Texas between 1900 and 1930. Martinez is also a founding member of the non-profit organization Refusing to Forget that calls for public commemorations of anti-Mexican violence in Texas. Born and raised in Uvalde, Texas, Martinez received her Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University.

Chaitali Sen is a writer and educator based in Austin, Texas. She is the author of the novel The Pathless Sky, and numerous stories and essays which have appeared or are forthcoming in Catapult, Colorado Review, Ecotone, LitHub, Los Angeles Review of Books, New England Review, New Ohio Review, and other journals. She is the founder of the interview series Borderless: Conversations on Art, Action, and Justice.

* A note on parking: Our landlord has requested that we ask everyone to please only use the store parking lot for attending events at Malvern Books and stores within the Park Plaza Shopping Center. Unfortunately, if you leave your car before or after an event (if you park out front with the intention of getting a meal across the road before attending an event here, for instance), there’s a chance your car could be towed or booted, and we’d hate for that to happen! If parking is unavailable in the store parking lot, please use residential streets. Or, for evening events, you can park at Breed Hardware, 718 W. 29th Street, when they’re closed (they close at 7pm Mon – Fri). *

Creative Writing Program Needs More Latinos

Originally written by Tony Diaz for Latino Rebels:


The University of Houston Creative Writing Program recently received an anonymous multimillion dollar gift to “celebrate the college’s commitment to community engagement through the Creative Writing Program” and “help attract and retain top scholars, particularly in creative writing.”

I was the first Chicano to earn a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the UH Creative Writing Program (UH CWP). I graduate in 1994. I have been writing about this lately as I quantify, cultivate, and accelerate our Community’s Cultural Capital. That’s my new project.

I received a Houston Arts Alliance Individual Artist Grant to complete a folio on the topic. I’ll also be giving five talks about Cultural Capital throughout the city.

This will be part of that.

I am excited to not only write about the structural barriers in the way of our Community’s growth, but I am also thrilled to see those barriers overcome through the collective action of our gente. I’ve seen it. I’ve led it. I’ve been surrounded by folks who make it happen.

Policy change is the tip of the pyramid, and our Community’s Cultural Capital is the base.

Mexican Americans have directly experienced the power of cultural capital through two potent examples.

  1. In 2017, the Chicana/Chicano community overturned the banning of Mexican American Studies in Arizona.
  2. In 2018, Chicanas and Chicanos advocated and succeeded in getting Mexican American Studies endorsed statewide by the Texas State Board of Education.

I want to break down what transpired, not just for posterity, but also as a guide for our community to understand its power in order to quantify, cultivate, and accelerate it. I am focusing on Houston because we are one of the most powerful cities in terms of Cultural Capital. However, Houston is not fully aware of that and is not acting like the national leader for Latino Art. That is about to change.

I came to Houston to become a writer. When I first arrived, I was stunned to find out I might be the first Mexican American to earn an MFA from the UH Creative Writing Program. After all, it’s located in occupied Mexico.  Why in the world would they need to import Mexicans from Chicago when they had plenty already?

There are actually a lot of structural reasons why, but as a Cultural Accelerator, I’m going to skip to some solutions. I address everything in between in my writing, and on my blog “The Cultural Accelerator” with updates every Tuesday at 2 at I will get to all the nuances along the way.

This is not just about money. I’m glad the UH CWP has money to invest in our Community’s Cultural Capital, but money alone won’t change anything. It will also take a new way of imagining and engaging our Community. There must be a fair exchange of cultural capital with our Community.

An example of this is one of the most incredible “want ads” I have ever seen. The Department of Chicana/o Studies at the University of California, Davis is conducting a search for an assistant professor. Two lines in the job description address and solve many structural issues:

“The department seeks scholars with a strong community-based and social justice practice and inter/transdisciplinary methodologies that are engaged in critical, liberatory, decolonial and radical pedagogies. Candidates whose work is community engaged praxis.”

If those lines don’t capture your imagination it may take a few more essays, you may have to attend some of my talks, or we may have to set up a workshop just for you. And yes, that is in California, but I can begin to translate that for Texas through specific steps that Houston can take to structurally changes the playing field.

Of course, the UH Creative Writing Program, like just about all academic institutions, needs more Latinx professors which lead to more Latina and Latino students.

Here are four steps to achieve that:

  1. Consult with the Community on who to hire.  We know people. We can also save you from hiring the wrong person.
  2. Hire a Latina or Latino from Texas, who knows our community. It takes 3 to five years to earn an MFA. It takes several years to get your books published, and still, none of that informs even a brilliant artist about the heart, soul, and mind of our Community. That too can take years.
  3. Accept more students from Texas, from Houston, and from your own Creative Writing Undergraduate program. There’s this myth that says students should not attend the same program for graduate school as they attended for undergraduate. UH is Hispanic serving institution. Houston is over 43% Latino. Houston is one of the largest pools for Latinx talent in the nation. It makes no sense to eliminate Houstonians from any applicant pool.
  4. Get more of your Latinx undergraduate and graduate students published. Since I have attended the UH CWP more Latinx students have completed the program. I should point out that the nonprofit I founded Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say has cultivated more Latinos with master’s degrees than UH; however, the UH CWP is poised to really groom its students to get published and get jobs. When I was in the program, it was a sin to talk about actually making a living at writing. That should be fundamental, and this is within the grasp of The Program.

Really, the CWP needs more Texans, more Latinos, more African American, more Native American, and more Asian students, which can all be pooled and developed from UH. After all, those students are taking creative writing courses from UH CWP graduate students. That should make them good enough writers to get into the very same graduate program they are studying from, right? If not, perhaps that’s a problem for a future essay.

I write about the nuances of each of these suggestions in other essays, but, as a Cultural Accelerator, I’m going to provide you with some examples of Chicana and Chicano authors who epitomize the possibilities.

MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Sandra Cisneros is internationally known for her work ranging from House on Mango Street to Women Hollering Creek, which are so potent that they were banned since they were part of the Mexican American Studies curriculum once prohibited in Arizona. But not everyone knows how much she has done to help Latinx and multicultural writers. Over 20 years ago she founded The Macondo Writers Workshop. She put her own time and energy into cultivating this program that thinks and works like our Community in response to her experience at the Iowa Writers Workshop.

Through Macondo, Sandra has helped writers get book deals, finish writing projects, get agents, create social justice projects, and inspire each other, and so much more. She did this harnessing her own and our Community’s Cultural Capital.


Guggenheim Fellow Dagoberto Gilb is world-renowned for his books, including The Magic of Blood and The Last Known Residence of Mickey Acuña, which were also contraband texts forming part of the Mexican American Studies curriculum that was so powerful that Arizona officials once banned it. He is also the founder of El Centro at UH-Victoria, where he also founded the literary journal Huizache. He’s also edited major anthologies of Mexican American fiction Hecho en Tejas: An Anthology of Texas Mexican Literature and The Anthology of Mexican American Literature from Bedford/St. Martin press.

But UH-Victoria is an undergraduate program, and even though it is a Hispanic serving institution, UH-Victoria is much smaller than Houston-home of the state’s largest base for Cultural Capital. However, Gilb has still been able to help our Community make great strides through teaching jobs for his former students, publications for his proteges, and Huizache is the leading literary in the journal in the nation and it focuses on Latino and multicultural writers. By the way, they also publish White writers. They have an excellent affirmative action program.

Both of these writers are from our Community and know our Community. They create, publish, and work adhering to the the vision and values of our Community. And they have both done this outside the mainstream Creative Writing system.

Likewise, my nonprofit, Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say turns 21 this April. I founded it because Houston did not have a regular Latino reading series at the time. We had not funding, and people, including other Latinos, told us there was no interest in Latino Lit, and there were not enough writers to showcase. We did not listen.

We organized the largest book fairs in Houston, which rivaled the state supported Texas Book Festival.

We have cultivated over a dozen Latinos with master’s degrees in writing. That’s more than the UH Creative Program.

We were the base for the Librotraficante movement which joined a national movement to keep Arizona’s ban of Mexican American studies in check, and spearheaded Texas’s endorsement of MAS statewide.

We have changed the landscape of Houston’s literary scene.

Again, these examples all took place outside of the mainstream. Imagine what the UH CWP can accomplish if it forms a brilliant and profound collaboration with our Community, adhering to our vision and values.

Houston is going to become the national leader for delivering our Community’s Art and Cultural Capital. I hope the UH CWP will be part of it.

Arte Público Press Receives Prestigious National Literary Award

Written by Toni Mooney Smith for U. of Houston:


The National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) has announced that Arte Público Press, the nation’s largest publisher of U.S.-based Hispanic authors, has received the prestigious Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. Named after the first president of the NBCC, the award is given annually to a person or institution with an extensive history of significant contributions to book culture.

“The award comes as a total surprise because it typically goes to authors,” said Dr. Nicolás Kanellos, founder and director of Arte Público Press. “This recognition will help us amplify voices in Latino literature throughout the United States.”

The National Book Critics Circle Awards, considered among the most respected literary awards in America. Past recipients include Margaret Atwood and Pulitzer Prize winner Toni Morrison.

“The University of Houston has given Arte Público Press an intellectual space in which to create and thrive, and has provided Latinos the opportunity to make a nationwide cultural imprint through literature,” said Dr. Kanellos. “I am proud that the Arte Público Press staff continues to strive for literary excellence. We labor not for our own recognition, but for the benefit of the authors we publish. Our mission to create a space for Latinos in the national culture guides us forward.”

Dr. Kanellos founded Arte Público Press in 1979, and the press has published over 600 books in English and Spanish in its 40-year history.

“This is a well-deserved honor for Dr. Kanellos,” said Paula Myrick Short, UH provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs. “This initiative is one of many that demonstrates how the University of Houston relates to its community. We are proud to be recognized as a designated Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education.”

Arte Público Press’ Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project, now in its 27th year, is the first nationally coordinated attempt to recover literature by U.S. Hispanic authors. Arte Público also indexes and publishes lost Latino writings from the American colonial period through 1960.

“I am especially excited about this national literary award presented to Arte Público Press,” said Dr. Antonio D. Tillis, dean of the UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. “As the M.D. Anderson Professor of Hispanic Studies, I not only feel the award is well deserved, but I am also proud that it sheds light on Dr. Kanellos’ innovation. Dr. Kanellos is a true leader in bringing much-needed attention and conversation to Hispanic and Latino literature.”

The NBCC Awards will be presented on March 14 in New York City.


By Christopher C. Hernandez, Comicosity


— Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1982 Nobel Lecture

Gabriel Garcia Marquez recognized the importance of Latin America’s self-representation in storytelling. Marquez points out that Latinx peoples have a history of our stories being told for us and about us, but rarely by us. It’s an important realization that is still trying to be impressed upon both Latinx and non-Latinx peoples alike.

Only in the past few years are we starting to see some headway made in the U.S. as to how our cultures…our lifestyles…our stories are portrayed in entertainment media. This fundamental blasé attitude towards representation of Latinx stories is what makes works like Tales from La Vida: A Latinx Comics Anthology monumentally important.

The importance of Tales from La Vida lies, in part, with the nakedness of which each creator’s confession is presented to the reader. Anthology editor Frederick Aldama’s charge to the authors gave life to the spirit of the book: share a hinge moment in their life as a Latinx. There are many important events in our lives that, if allowed, can take part in determining how we react in any given situation. Some events in our lives have the power to completely reshape the way we think about our world. The stories shared in Tales do exactly that for the authors. These stories are those in which the protagonist is set apart from the rest of the world and yet brought home to where they belong. They are moments of plurality. We are set apart from others and at the same time made part of a larger whole. Aldama’s simple thesis enables the participants to beautifully capture and release these truths to the readers.

Whether or not it was easy for the authors to share these intimate “ah-ha” crossroads, they are indeed laid bare and done so passionately in word and illustration. In some stories the reader can even tangibly discern the struggle of the creator’s story unfold. The storytelling is that good. Some authors use simple methods and others use more nuanced and symbolistic devices but all of them hit home runs. No one entry, though, “beats” another for best story of the anthology. They are all equally weighted. Whether it is about paths not taken, gender issues, sexuality issues, family issues, discrimination issues, or culture issues, each carries the impact of being life changing for the creator.


The anthology is also a form of self-therapy for both creator and reader alike. As each creator works through, or shares what they have already solved, it does the same for readers. They may identify with some or all the issues presented. For some readers it may be the answer they have been looking for, or it may unlock a path towards finding that answer. For others it may reveal a hidden issue that has yet to be stumbled upon. This works on both an individual and on a group level. The stories group us together with the collective feelings of our elders and peers. They impress upon us the emotional impact others have faced because they are just like us. We may never face those same moments, but we do become affected by them by proxy.

Again, the frankness of the stories aides in this but also the variety of the way the stories are presented. For just as many different issues are dealt with there are an equal amount of art styles rendered. The styles are realistic, photo-realistic, sketches, paintings, cartoon-y, and abstract. There is artwork from seasoned creators and new comers, but all are people baring their souls, as every artist does, for other people and other times to see. Art has a way of reaching people that cannot, do not, or will not be reached. It involuntarily stirs the mind like a masterfully composed violin piece. It forces people to react. While words can be glazed over, the language of art only takes a fleeting glance and it’s there in the brain. The subconscious takes that input and puts it to work. Complex messages and emotions can instantly be imparted to the observer with thin or thick strokes, color, black and white, or blank page with just a few words. Whether or not the creators consciously endeavor to attach this meaning to the art it still can’t help but be there. The art of Tales is so varied and impactful that just a glance at its pages captures the reader’s attention, pulling them in for more.

Reading these stories feels very personal and nostalgic even, like flipping through the pages of a family photo album. Readers may feel both the urge to hide it away—protecting it from the prying eyes of strangers—and the prideful urge to show it to everyone. Like the chismosa Tia that wants to tell all the stories of her family to a newly married-in addition. It is, however, extremely important that Tales from La Vida be shared with everyone. It is up to each reader, of course, to do what they will with Tales but it can be used as a guidebook for a better understanding of Latinx peoples.


Of all the stories and creators, Jules Rivera’s piece, “The Continuum”, stands out amidst the others as possibly representing the overall message. Her own experience is unique and yet communal at the same time, but it is her conclusion that helps bring the rest of the voices of the anthology into focus. “The Latina experience is not one moment. It’s all the moments.” While Aldama’s original guidelines require the storyteller to pick one moment, it is the sum of all the moments within the pages of Tales that makes us who we are. Just as the human body is made up of different systems, organs, and cells: collectively they make one person. Rivera continues: “I am Jules Rivera and that’s what it means to be a Latina.” The experiences have and will continue to shape us as we move through this world just as Rivera’s art shows her travel down the path of life. Do we let those experience control us, or do we control them as she now does?

In 1562 a Franciscan monk burned 27 illustrated Mayan books that contained our ancestor’s way of life and later set about interpreting our reality through his own patterns. Centuries later we are still trying to relearn what was lost by this act. Collecting our own stories in anthologies like Tales reincarnates the traditions of our forebearers.

These are all our stories. Every single one. We have dealt with all these issues at some point or another because we are Latinx. We are descendants of the indigenous peoples of the Americas—mixed, colonized, and gentrified with foreign blood and ideas. We are who we are now because of the past 500 years of key moments. Because of this we need to hold on to and uplift collections like Tales. They are crucial to propagating our stories and our lives.


Jasmin Medrano gives a dynamite write up of the comic El Peso Hero to promote its exhibit at Texas A&M University:

With all of the negative drama at the border spiraling, one artist turns the tables, making it a positive platform for a public servant vigilante. The MSC Visual Arts Committee is proud to present artwork by comic artist Hector Rodriguez that will feature a Latino comic book superhero series known as “El Peso Hero” who shows the struggles of both sides.

Based on a rogue hero battling border issues such as Mexican cartels, human trafficking, and border corruption, the popular series has gained wide international media attention, including coverage by CNN, UNIVISION, and TELEMUNDO. And even though his comics are captioned in Spanish, his audience remains large and open to all.

Rodriguez himself is not superhuman but a bilingual educator who works with low-income students who come from the same unfortunate background as the refugees in his comics. The hero is said to defend Mexican refugees that cross the border to evade violence and government corruption, and is highly skilled in hand-to-hand combat with strength and immunity just like Superman. The cartoon style makes it more accessible to kids. Not only is the hero relatable, but the series also shares the border struggles in a different light. Latinos are not typically featured in comic books, much less featured on the covers, and it became a goal of Rodriguez’s to give his students a role model.

While the comics do not take a political stance, Rodriguez does try to counter the negative rhetoric he feels is incited by 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump. Rodriguez even created a special Donald Trump cover that shows the main protagonist, “El Peso Hero” knocking his fist into President Trump’s face.

With the comic series being a unique and tasteful blend of history, art, and current events, it is a powerful demonstration of art with a message. The showcasing will take place Wednesday, January 16, 2019, at 9:00 a.m. through Sunday, March 3, 2019, at 8:00 p.m. in the MSC Reynolds Gallery.

The Americas Poetry Festival of New York Names ​Rossy Lima ‘Poet of The Year’

This post comes from Gerald Padilla and as always, I encourage you to check out the original sites when you can:–latino-book-review.html

Many congrats to Rossy Evelin Lima!

This past Friday at the Instituto Cervantes in New York, The Americas Poetry Festival of New York (TAPFY) recognized the Mexican poet and DACA recipient, Rossy Evelin Lima, with the Poet of the Year Award. The director of TAPFNY, Carlos Aguasaco and the organizers Yrene Santos and Carlos Velásquez Torres, granted Lima the award “in recognition for her literary achievements and for her poetry that reflects the dreams of her generation and the true spirit of The Americas”. To memorialize the award, TAPFNY will place a commemorative brick engraved with Lima’s name at the Poetry Circle located in the garden of the Walt Whitman Birthplace in Huntington Long Island.

Rossy Lima was selected among 43 distinguished poets from around the world representing 18 countries and 7 languages. During her acceptance speech, Lima spoke about her immigrant identity and dedicated the award to her family. She spoke about the sacrifices that are made in order to follow our dreams and emphasized that we must make sure we leave our mark in this beautiful country.
The poet and linguist Rossy Evelin Lima (Veracruz, Mexico), holds a PhD in linguistics. She is the author of the bilingual poetry collection Migrare Mutare / Migrate Mutate (Artepoetica Press, 2017) and the trilingual children’s book Noyolkanyolkej. Her work has been published in numerous journals, magazines and anthologies in 9 countries. She has been awarded the Premio Internazionale La Finestra Eterea (Milan, Italy, 2017); the Premio Orgullo Fronterizo Mexicano award by the Institute for Mexicans Abroad (Texas, USA, 2016);the Premio Internazionale di Poesia Altino (Venice, Italy, 2015); the National Gabriela Mistral Award by the Hispanic Honor Society (USA, 2010), among others. She is the president and founder of the Latin American Foundation for the Arts, the founder of the International Latin American Poetry Festival (FeIPoL), and the founder of Jade Publishing. 
Some of the notable poets that participated throughout the three day festival included Edward van de Vendel from Netherlands; Francisco X. Fernández Naval from Spain; Idran Amirthanayagam from Sri Lanka; Inga Pizāne from Latvia; Ana Guillot from Argentina; Carlos Satizábal from Colombia; Deidamia Galán from the Dominican Republic, among many others. The venues for TAPFNY 2017 were The City College Center For Worker Education; the Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site and Interpretive Center; the Consulate of Argentina in New York; and the Instituto Cervantes NY. Artepoetica Press published an anthology with the participant’s work, celebrating the multilingual and international spirit of the festival.

For more information about Rossy Evelin Lima visit her website:
For more information about The Americas Poetry Festival of New York visit their website: or their facebook page