Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival Apr. 25--28, 2019

Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival

The Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival, established in 2008, is a four-day poetry festival in deep South Texas held concurrently in two countries on the last full weekend in April. You don't need to register in order to submit to our anthology, Boundless. We feed you dinner on Saturday night as part of the Poetry Pachanga--the event that started it all. V.I.P.F. is a program of 
Art That Heals, Inc., and  El Zarape Press, with sponsorship from by Creative Alignment Consulting and the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and welcomes poets from around the world.

2018 Featured Poets

Please welcome our Featured Poets for the 10th Annual Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival                  (Apr. 27--30, 2017)!!

Anne Estevis, Edinburg, Texas (Special Guest Poet)

Anne Estevis is a native South Texan and a retired educator. She is a published fiction writer who writes poetry for pure pleasure. Lately, she and her granddaughter Alyssa Canul have been involved in collaborative poetry writing. Estevis is the author of Down Garrapata Road and Chicken Foot Farm.

César L. De León, McAllen, Texas (FEATURED POET)

César Leonardo De León lives in McAllen, Texas. His poetry has been published in various journals, most recently in Imaniman: Poets Writing in the Anzalduan Borderlands and Pilgrimage Magazine. César is currently an MFA in Creative Writing candidate (with Mexican American Studies Graduate Certificate) at UTRGV.

De León's poetry has also been published in the anthologies Along the River 2: More Voices From the Rio Grande, and Juventud!: Growing up on the Border, and Boundless, among other anthologies and journals. In 2012, César received a Golden Circle Award from The University of Columbia Press for his poem “Us,” and in 2014 he was awarded 2nd place in poetry from the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association. 

Alejandro Cabada, McAllen, Texas (FEATURED POET/MUSICIAN)

Alejandro Cabada is a poet, writer and musician. He is the author of two poetry collections:  Escarlata (2009), which focuses on the passion and fire of romantic love and Días de púrpura (2012), in which he explores the darker sides of relationships, writing about death, solitude, and oblivion and also pays tribute to the doomed poets of the 19th Century.   His latest book is a collection of horror short-stores titled La espiral de la locura (Flowersong Books, 2016).

His work has been published in different anthologies and literary journals in Mexico and the United States.  Cabada has read at different literature and creative writing symposiums such as: the writer’s festival “Voces en la Frontera,” the binational symposium “Letras en el Estuario,” the festival “Borderland Writers,” and the Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival, among other literary events.

Proud of his Mexican heritage, he promotes the Spanish language in the Valley through his literary work and his music with his rock band Dulcetóxico. He holds a B.A. in Spanish and a M.A. in Spanish Literature from UT-Pan American.

Kathy Trenfield Raines, Harlingen, Texas (FEATURED POET)

Kathy Trenfield Raines has been writing since high school, but she became especially dedicated to creating and revising poems, essays and stories with the help of her mentors and peers at the New Jersey and National Writing Projects in the 1990s. She is extremely grateful for the dedicated tutelage of her exacting editor and husband Stan (editor from hell), as well as for help and feedback from her many colleagues and friends at the Narciso Martínez Cultural Arts Center Writers Forum in San Benito.

In addition to publications created for these writing projects, Kathy has published poems and narratives in the following Rio Grande Valley anthologies: Along the River 2: More Voices From the Rio Grande, Writing to Be Heard/Escuchame: Voices from the Chicho, Echoes En El ValleInterstice and, of course, Boundless. Also, in getting her Master's in English in 2015, she wrote a thesis on Mark Twain's "Mysterious Stranger" manuscripts. Kathy is retiring this year from a fascinating and fulfilling thirty-six-year career of teaching middle and high school English in the Rio Grande Valley. In addition to being with her family and friends, Kathy enjoys acting in community theater, singing, hanging out with her pets, hiking, biking and exploring the natural world.

Vidas Cruzadas (Linda Romero, Coordinator) (FEATURED POETS)

Vidas Cruzadas, established in 2010, is a collective of women from across the Rio Grande Valley who gather at the Milagro Clinic in McAllen to participate in writing workshops with the sometime assistance from community mentors--primarily students and grads from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.


Jen Mendoza, McAllen, Texas (FEATURED ARTIST)

Jen Mendoza is a local writer and poet. She laughs as hard as she cries and tries not to take life too seriously even though it takes her very seriously at times. She is grateful for every door, open or closed and hopes to be of service to those around her.

Jen is a local self taught clayworker and custom jewelry maker. She is new to writing art blurbs for herself and shrinks from using words like “form” and “color” to describe her work until she knows what the hell that means. But she will say this:

I want to help create an environment where the sexual needs and desires of womxn, or anyone who identifies as such, are given equal priority in society. We start by creating dialogue, by creating art and images to proliferate both public and private spaces so these conversations can take place. I want to destigmatize female sexuality in our culture as much as possible.

Many of the pieces are lighthearted and made in good fun. They are meant to make you smile, laugh, blush and then open up – like the lovely lily you are – to yourself, a friend or lover about your need for pussy control, or a more understanding partner, or simply to acknowledge the power you wield in and out of the bedroom.

The vagina dentata, an ancient folk myth meant to dissuade douchebags and rapists, still serve as a warning, which reads: I will eat you alive if you fuck with me. Don’t. Fuck. With. Me.

Are we having fun yet?

I want to challenge the people who take pussy for granted. --The men who dare not approach me or my table at events because they’re afraid I’m a feminist. Or the men who say they LOVE pussy but don’t take the time to ask their lover what they want in bed. This is for you, bruh. --The older generation, our parents, who are still stuck in traditional gender roles and assume that a womxn's place is at home, making and raising babies (still the hardest job in the world and done for free). Parents, ask your daughters about their sex lives. It’s ok. --The womxn who may have never really given a good loose and juicy thought to what’s between their legs because it’s a dirty word and a dirty place. I make these pieces for you.

I want to support womxn struggling with sexual dysfunction – and their lovers who are undoubtedly impacted -- as I have suffered from it at varying points and degrees throughout my sexually active life. Your pussy is yours to own, discover and rediscover again and again, night after night in the precise manner that you choose. Don’t give up or give in to any pressure internal or external to put your body through something not in its best interest. Figure it out if you can. Be honest with yourself and those to whom you give access to your most sacred parts. It will be worth it. You are worth it.

Ancient depictions of animal heads (often with teeth bared) in place of breasts or vulvas serve as reminders of mortality. From her you were born and to her you shall return. Who doesn't need a good reminder they're going to die?

We are all trapped in our bodies and will be released from them upon death, and we can despair or come to grips with the gift, however mysterious or dysfunctional, we’ve been given. It is up to us, individually and collectively, to share in the responsibility of being the best version of ourselves we can be. I am trying to play my small part in this revolution of consciousness. I want to challenge people and identify with them. I want to shake them to their core and love them. This is my version of Slap n’ Tickle. Art is Foreplay. Understanding is Orgasm.