Meet The Poets of the 11th Annual Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival!!
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).
Alyssa Canul, Edinburg, Texas
Alyssa Canul is a senior at Texas A&M-Kingsville majoring in Biomedical Sciences and Chemistry. She throws the hammer, weight, javelin, and shot put on the track team.She has been writing poetry since she was a young child and debuted her poetry at the Nueva Onda Poet's Cafe in Edinburg at the age of 9.
Amy Becker-Chambless, Pharr, Texas
Amy Becker-Chambless is an instructor at UTRGV and a poet living in the very south of Texas.
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. Alyssa Canul is a senior at Texas A&M-Kingsville majoring in Biomedical Sciences and Chemistry. She throws the hammer, weight, javelin, and shot put on the track team.She has been writing poetry since she was a young child and debuted her poetry at the Nueva Onda Poet's Cafe in Edinburg at the age of 9.
Brenda Nettles Riojas, Harlingen, Texas (Founder, VIPF)
Brenda Nettles Riojas, a founder of the Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival, is the host of Corazón Bilingüe, a weekly radio program, and editor of The Valley Catholic newspaper. Her first collection of Spanish poems – “La Primera Voz Que Oí” was published in 2009. She earned her M.F.A. from the University of New Orleans.
Bryan Damien Nichols, Los Fresnos, Texas
Bryan Damien Nichols was born in Houma, Louisiana, on August 30, 1978. He earned a B.A., summa cum laude, in Philosophy from Baylor University, and a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law. He has practiced law both in Houston and in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. Bryan currently lives in Los Fresnos, Texas, with his loving wife, Michelle. Bryan is best known for the poetry he writes through his two heteronyms: (1) Kjell Nykvist; and (2) Alexander Shacklebury. These two heteronyms were featured in Bryan’s debut poetry collection, Whispers From Within (Sarah Book Publishing, 2015).
Celina A. Gómez, Edinburg, Texas
Celina A. Gómez is a high school and college teacher and performance poetry coach. Her work appears in Ostrich Review, Outrage: A Protest Anthology for a Post 9/11 World, and numerous chapbooks and conference proceedings. The reigning Ultimate Poetry Boxing Champion of South Texas, she received her MFA with a certificate in Mexican American Studies from the University of Texas Pan American.
Cesar L. De León, McAllen, Texas (2017 FEATURED POET)
Cesar L. De Leon lives in McAllen, Texas. His poetry has been published in various anthologies and journals most recently in Imaniman: Poets Writing in the Anzalduan Borderlands and Pilgrimage Magazine. Cesar is currently an MFA candidate with Mexican American Studies Graduate Certificate at UTRGV.
Charles McGregor, McAllen, Texas
When not daydreaming of ideas for how to make an awesome classroom experience for his students, Charles McGregor likes to compose poetry tackling difficult queer issues in the Southern United States. Some of his works can be found in modest literary magazines such as No Infinite, Boundless, Portland Review, and The Missing Slate. Follow him on Twitter @CMcgregor209.
Dr. Clark von Heller, North Carolina/McAllen, Texas
Dr. Clark von Heller was born in North Carolina. His interest in anthropology brought heading to the beautiful Rio Grande Valley the summer of 1971. He fell in love with the Mexican American people and decided to make this his home. In 2007 he published The Clark Heller Collection, a series of poetry, short stories, travel journals and songs. He is married and teaches Writing at South Texas College.
Daniel García Ordaz, McAllen, Texas (Founder, VIPF)
Daniel García Ordaz, an emerging voice in Mexican American poetry, was born in Houston, Texas in 1971 and raised in Mission, Texas. He is an editor of poetry collections, including Insomnia, by Edward Vidaurre. He's also a teacher, song-writer, former journalist, photographicationisticator, and word-maker-upper. Daniel appears in the documentary, ALTAR: Cruzando fronteras/Building bridges" and he was one of five authors and the only poet chosen to participate in the Texas Latino Voices project in 2009 by the Texas Center For The Book, the state affiliate of the Library of Congress. He has also been a featured reader at numerous literary events, including the Dallas International Book Fair. He is also a founder of Art That Heals, Inc. García Ordaz also is a founder of the Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival and served in the U.S. Navy as a Hospital Corpsman. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from The University of Texas-Pan American. He is working on an MFA in Creative Writing.
Eddie Vega, San Antonio, Texas
Eddie Vega is a native South Texan. A graduate of St. Mary's University, he is a member of the 2017 Puro Slam Team and a collaborator with the Blah Blah Blah Poetry Spot. Recently, he was published in the anthology, Truth to Power (Cutthroat Press) and featured in the poetry webcast, MegaCorazon. On most nights he can be found at a slam or open mic in San Antonio.
La Erika Garza-Johnson (Elsa/McAllen, Texas)
La Chica Del Apartamento 512, Local Loca, Poeta Power, Poetx, Chingona Wanna-Be, Word Witch, etc. Author of Unwoven, instructor, mother, wife, cat lady, and frenemy.
Edward Vidaurre (Los Angeles, California) (Former VIPF Featured Poet)
Edward Vidaurre is the author of collections of poetry: I Took My Barrio on a Road Trip, Insomnia, Beautiful Scars, & Chicano Blood Transfusion. His fifth collection "Jazzhouse" will be published in the fall of 2017 by indie press Prickly Pear Publishing. Vidaurre lives in McAllen, TX with his wife and daughter.
Gina Lowry, Houston, Texas
Gina Lowry is a teacher, administrative intern, and poet in Houston, TX where she attend both the University of Houston and St. Thomas University receiving a Masters in Education. She enjoys life and fun times with her husband and three children there but also enjoy returning to the Valley where she was born and raised. She occasionally attends readings in Mcallen, TX and has been published in the Anthology, "Twenty."
Gloria Wyant, Mission, Texas
A novice poet with amazing raw talent has been living among us, learning the ways of the Poet. She is the Chuck Norris of creativity, mostly through fiber arts and more recently acrylic and mixed media. A muse that thrives on caffeine and sunshine, Gloria Wyant loves books, yarn, and yarn books. Look for her foreign language poems in the next few years.
Harold Rodinsky, San Antonio, Texas
I grew up in Portland, Oregon lived in Chicago and now resides in San Antonio, Texas. I was educated at University Oregon,and DePaul University in Chicago. I was a tenured professor at two different universities. I retired from university teaching in May of 2014. I have had poems published in the anthologies Quirk, Boundless, the literary journal Voices de la Luna, and San Antonio’s daily newspaper The Express-News. I have been the featured poet at Voices de la Luna monthly Literature night and regularly read at Barrio Barista’s Open Mic Tuesdays.
Jacqueline Ho-Shing, McAllen, Texas
Bi-racial, multi-cultural, vegan, feminist, writer, and animal/human lover. Pop culture junkie living life one nap at a time. Border Texan born and raised.
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.
Jesse G. Herrera, Laredo, Texas (Former VIPF Featured Poet)
Some call me a poet, some call me the dude, but I have always been Jesse G. Herrera.
Jo Reyes-Boitel, San Antonio, Texas/Minnesota/Florida/Mexico/Cuba
writer, motivator/supporter, mother, daughter to oya and obatala, rabid music listener, percussionist and lover. texas transplant, by way of minnesota | florida | mexico | cuba.
John Meza, Corpus Christi, Texas (Former VIPF Featured Poet)
South Texas spoken word performer, poet and activist. Born and raised a migrant harvesting tomatoes and cucumbers from Ohio to San Benito, Texas. A 10-year veteran of the U.S. Army. Currently building bridges and feeding the homeless in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Jose M. Ponce, McAllen, Texas
Jose M. Ponce is a Chicano writer who grew up in San Juan, Texas. He focuses on short fictional stories, and Chicano poetry. He considers himself more of a storyteller than a writer. He is in the process of publishing his first non-fiction book.
Kathy Trenfield Raines, Brownsville, Texas (2017 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.
Laura Peña, Houston/Katy, Texas
Laura Peña was born and raised in Houston, Texas. She holds a BA in English Literature and an MA in Education. She is a bilingual elementary school teacher. She has been published in di-vêrsé-city, Boundless, Houston Poetry Fest anthology, The Bayou Review, Harbinger Asylum, Illya’s Honey, The Red River Review, and The Texas Poetry Calendar. Laura is a member of Gulf Coast Poets, The Poetry Society of Texas, Academy of American Poets, The Writer’s League of Texas and the critique group Poetry Works Workshops. Laura organizes Poetry Out of Bounds each year which is the official kick-off event for Houston Poetry Fest.
Linda Romero, Harlingen, Texas (2017 FEATURED POET)
Linda Romero has been published in the VIPF Boundless anthologies since 2010, Along the River 2: More Voices from the Rio Grande (VAO Publishing), and Twenty: In Memoriam (El Zarape Press). She serves as executive director for Vidas Cruzadas and is currently in training as a dyslexia therapist.
Lucinda Zamora-Wiley (San Antonio/Brownsville, Texas)
Lucinda Zamora-Wiley is a poet who resides in Brownsville, Texas, transplanted from San Antonio, originally. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing at UTRGV in 2016, and it is one of her highest privileges to have worked with poets, Billy Collins, Juan Felipe Herrera, and Emmy Perez along her writing career. She looks forward to working with poet, Sharon Olds, in summer of 2018. Lucinda was recently nominated by this press for a Pushcart Prize Award in Poetry; the nomination is an honor for which she is profoundly grateful. She is equally proud of her poet-daughter, Sofia Zamora-Wiley.
Lupe Castillo (St. Paul, Minnesota)
Texas Sown, Minnesota Raised, Xicana India Through and Through. La Progress began journaling her truths and her voice came to life! She intersects duty with desire, internal wars with peace, and loss with joy. It ie invokes/evokes the inheriant memories of ceremonies of ceremonies, dancing and drumming with the ancient ones. As Tia, Granddaughter, Madre, and Lover, she shares stories of Comunidad, Justicia, y Amor. See poems in Calaca Press, "Under What Bandera?", Co-Founder of a Midwest first LatinX Spoken Word Collective and more!
Dr. Ma. Alma Gonzalez Perez, Zapata, Texas
Dr. Ma. Alma Gonzalez Perez was born and raised on the Texas-Mexico Border. Early on she fell in love with the Spanish language and literature. She taught English, Spanish, and Creative Writing in the public schools for 21 years. The second part of her career was working with teach interns in the department of bilingual education at The University of Texas - Pan American. Retired after 40 years in education, Dr. Perez now enjoys writing poetry and bilingual children's books. http://delalmapublications.com
Mark Esperanza (Elsa, Texas)
Mark Esperanza is a teacher at San Benito High School where he has started the San Benito Creative Writers Club, a collection of high school students devoted to the craft. Aside from encouraging his own students to write, Esperanza has been published in The Gallery Magazine (UTRGV, 2013; 2017) and The Monitor newspaper. Esperanza is currently working on his MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and plans to graduate May 2018.
Mary Bain, Mission, Texas
Mary Bain has written several books for children, featuring short stories and poems that give practice in phonetic concepts, with the goal of increasing reading fluency. In addition, she has written an autobiography for middle school children, a beautifully illustrated book of Haiku, and Bible study books for adults. http://www.readinglogically.com
Nathan Brown (Oklahoma/Wimberly, Texas) (2018 FEATURED POET)
Nathan Brown is an author, songwriter, and award-winning poet living in Wimberley, Texas. He holds a PhD in English and Journalism from the University of Oklahoma, and he served as Poet Laureate of Oklahoma in 2013/14. Nathan has published sixteen books. His book Two Tables Over won the 2009 Oklahoma Book Award. http://www.brownlines.com
Nianna Gustovich,Edinburg, Texas
Nianna E. Gustovich is a French and Spanish teacher at Valley View High School who loves words and self-expression. She has performed at Pasta, Poetry, and Vino, Words and Brews (2015-2016), and 100 Thousand Poets for Change (2014). Her poems have been featured in Boundless (2015-2016) and Grafemas (December 2010). Her themes include family experiences and emotional encounters. She is an equal opportunity poet with poems in English, Spanish, and French. Nianna is also an artist whose paintings have been featured at the McAllen Creative Incubator galleries and Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library gallery in Edinburg.
Odilia Galván Rodríguez, California/ Texas (Former VIPF Featured Poet)
Odilia Galván Rodríguez, Odilia Galván Rodríguez, poet, writer, editor, and activist, is the author of five volumes of poetry. She has worked as an editor for various journals and magazines online and in print. She co-edited the award-winning anthology, Poetry of Resistance: Voices for Social Justice. She facilitates creative writing workshops nationally, and moderates: Poets Responding and Love and Prayers for Fukushima, both Facebook pages dedicated to organizing around social justice issues. Her poetry appears in numerous anthologies, and literary journals on and offline. http://xhiuayotl.blogspot.com
PW Covington, Victoria, Texas (Former VIPF Featured Poet)
PW Covington's work is inspired by the North Americans highway. A former VIPF featured poet, he has been invited to read from San Francisco's Beat Museum, to Havana, Cuba. PW lives in Northern New Mexico, two blocks off of historic Route 66. http://www.pwcovington.com
Robin Carstensen (Corpus Christi, TX) (2018 FEATURED POET)
Robin Carstensen's chapbook, In the Temple of Shining Mercy, was awarded first place and published by Iron Horse Literary Press in 2017. Poems are also published in the Atlanta Review, BorderSenses, Connotations Press, Southern Humanities Review, Demeter Press’s Borderlands and Crossroads: Writing the Motherland, and many more. She teaches and coordinates the creative writing program at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi where she advises The Windward Review, lit journal of South Texas and the Coastal Bend, and is co-founding, senior editor of the Switchgrass Review, a literary journal of women's health and empowerment. Robin Carstensen's chapbook, In the Temple of Shining Mercy, was awarded first place and published by Iron Horse Literary Press in 2017. Poems are also published in the Atlanta Review, BorderSenses, Connotations Press, Southern Humanities Review, Demeter Press’s Borderlands and Crossroads: Writing the Motherland, and many more. She teaches and coordinates the creative writing program at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi where she advises The Windward Review, lit journal of South Texas and the Coastal Bend, and is co-founding, senior editor of the Switchgrass Review, a literary journal of women's health and empowerment. http://www.facebook.com/groups/1528657917427715/
Rodney Gomez, Brownsville, Texas (Former VIPF Featured Poet)
Rodney Gomez lives and works in the Rio Grande Valley. He occasionally writes poetry. http://www.twitter.com/rodneyxgomez
Thomas Ray García, Pharr, Texas
Thomas Ray Garcia is a writer from Pharr, Texas whose fiction and poetry ranges from the fantastical world of Aurelia to the humid realm of the Rio Grande Valley. He is the co-winner of the riverSedge Prose Prize and the Princeton University English Department's Ward Mathis Prize. He has also published short stories and poetry in figments Magazine, BorderSenses, The Acentos Review, and The New Engagement. After teaching high school, he plans to pursue an English PhD at UCLA and write every day.
Trevor Wainwright, Castleford, West Yorkshire, UK (Former VIPF Featured Poet)
Making his 7th consecutive appearance at the Festival Trev is still the UK's most prolific travelling poet, having last year reached his 1000th travelling poem whilst in Austin, by the time the RGVIPF was over he had reached 1095 finishing with 1111 by the time he got home. Always well received in the schools and colleges where he encourages students to write and travel and how to do it cheaply. Last year he visited Reynosa with friends and went down well with the locals. Often refers to Texas as his spiritual home. http://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/trevtheroadpoet
Virginia Gilstrap, Victoria, Texas
Virginia Suerene Gilstrap is a curious clown. Seriously. She seeks the truth in every eye and hopes for presence, and if things go really well, good guacamole.