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.

Meet The Poets of the 10th Annual Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival!!

Amalia Ortiz, La Feria, Texas  (FEATURED POET)

We are honored to welcome Amalia Ortiz, joining us as a Featured Poet at the 9th Annual Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival. Amalia Ortiz, Tejana poet and playwright, appeared on three seasons of Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry on HBO. Amalia’s book of poetry, Rant. Chant. Chisme. was selected by NBC Latino as one of “10 Great Latino Books of 2015.” She also was chosen to speak at TEDx McAllen in 2015. She was awarded the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation Grant from Sandra Cisneros and a writing residency at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. She is a CantoMundo Fellow and a Hedgebrook writer-in-residence alumna. Amalia is completing her MFA in Creative Writing at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Amy Becker-Chambless, Pharr, Texas

Amy Becker-Chambless is Valley transplant since 2006 and an instructor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. She got her Ph.D. in American literature at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas in 2006. When she's not reading or writing poetry or about popular culture, she's teaching literature, including popular culture.

Arnulfo Segovia, Edinburg, Texas

Arnulfo is an existential-pocho-nihilist/christian-anarchist-freegan of color who once was a binge-drinking-vegan-valluco. He has always had leanings towards radical everything and is sometimes a third-force-enthusiast and is somewhere between life and death. More than any of those, he is afraid. His most recent work can’t be found yet, but will be soon in some way, shape or form. In his free time he enjoys theory-crafting about reality and revolution, singing completely off key, and quoting Blood In Blood Out as often as possible. Recently, he has developed a reading habit. He is the proud life coach of a few dogs.

Brenda Nettles Riojas, Harlingen, Texas

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 is an RGV poet best known for writing through his two heteronyms: (1) Kjell Nykvist; and (2) Alexander Shacklebury. Bryan's debut collection of poetry, Whispers From Within, was published in 2015 by Sarah Book Publishing, a small, independent Texas press. Bryan has published dozens of poems in dozens of literary journals. He is a lawyer in the RGV, and lives in Los Fresnos with his loving wife, Michelle

Celina A. Gómez, Edinburg, Texas

Celina A. Gómez earned her MFA in Creative Writing and a graduate certificate in Mexican American Studies from the University of Texas – Pan American in 2015. She has been teaching high school English for eight years and coaches performance prose and poetry. She is the 2014 winner of the C.O.N.C.A. Ultimate Poetry Boxing Championship and has poems published in Outrage: A Protest Anthology For Injustice in a Post 9/11 World, Ostrich Review, and various chapbooks.


Dr. Clarkvon Heller

Dr. ClarkvonHeller 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

Daniel García Ordaz, an emerging voice in Hispanic 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. 

Edward Vidaurre, Los Angeles, California

Edward Vidaurre is the author of four books of poetry. I Took My Barrio On A Road Trip (Slough Press 2013), Insomnia and Beautiful Scars: Elegiac Beat Poems (El Zarape Press 2014 and 2015) and Chicano Blood Transfusion (FlowerSong Books 2016). Vidaurre is a moderator for Poets Responding to SB1070 and founder of Pasta, Poetry & Vino.

Harold Rodinsky, San Antonio, Texas

Harold Rodinsky grew up in Portland, Oregon lived in Chicago and now resides in San Antonio, Texas. He was educated at University Oregon,and DePaul University in Chicago. He was a tenured professor at two different universities. He retired from university teaching in May of 2014. He has had poems published in the anthologies Quirk, Boundless, the literary journal Voices de la Luna, and San Antonio’s daily newspaper The Express-News. He have been the featured poet at Voices de la Luna monthly Literature night and regularly read at Barrio Barista’s Open Mic Tuesdays.

Hugo Esteban Rodriguez, Mexico/Houston, Texas

Hugo Esteban Rodriguez is a Mexican-born, Rio Grande Valley-raised graduate of the University of Texas at Brownsville who currently works as an interpreter in Houston. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso, and his work has previously been published in HEArt Journal Online, Latino Rebels Anthology: Bolder, and the 2014 Texas Poetry Calendar.

Javier Pinzón, Davis,California (FEATURED POET)

Javier Pinzón came to the United States from Mexico in the eighties. He has had his poetry published in Bay Area community newspapers of San Francisco, and various literary magazines among them, Revista Mujeres, of the University of California at Santa Cruz, and La Palabra, at the University of California, Davis. 

Javier Pinzón llego a los Estados Unidos en la década de los ochentas de México.  Javier ha publicado su poesía en periódicos comunitarios del área de la bahía de San Francisco, y en revistas literarias entre ellas Revista Mujeres, de la Universidad de California, Santa Cruz, y la Palabra, de la Universidad de California, Davis.

John R. Meza, Corpus Christi, Texas (FEATURED POET)

poet of faith, peace and love

Katie Hoerth, McAllen, Texas

Katherine Hoerth is the author of four poetry books. Her most recent, Goddess Wears Cowboy Boots (Lamar University Literary Press, 2014) received the Helen C. Smith Prize from the Texas Institute of Letters. She teaches English at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and lives in Edinburg.

Kelly Ann Ellis, Houston, Texas (FEATURED POET)

Kelly Ann Ellis lives and writes in Houston, Texas, where she is a member of the critique group Poets in the Loop. She is the author of four chapbooks: Reef, Marrow, I Dreamed a Crooked Mile, and Some Women, Stirred and Shaken. She is also the co-founder of HotPoet, an organization dedicated to promoting the arts in Houston by coordinating and producing events that feature a fusion of poetry and music. She has an MFA in English Literature from the University of Houston, where she teaches at night, in addition to holding a day job as a dual credit English instructor at the Early College Academy in Spring., TX.

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.

Lucinda Zamora-Wiley, San Antonio/Brownsville, Texas

Lucinda Zamora-Wiley is a native San Antonian and transplant to the Rio Grande Valley for the past twenty years. She teaches English in South Texas ISD and resides in Brownsville, Texas. She is preparing to publish a poetry and flash non-fiction manuscript as her thesis for her MFA in Creative Writing from UTRGV in December 2016.

Dr. Ma. Alma Gonzalez Perez

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.

Marianita Escamilla, Edinburg, Texas

Mary Ann Escamilla is a lifelong resident of the Rio Grande Valley. She presently works at UTRGV. Recently, her creative nonfiction has been published in the Along the River III Anthology and has served as creative nonfiction editor for the UTPA riverSedge anthology.

Meliton Hinojosa Jr., Harlingen, Texas

Chicano Poet Period

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

Odilia Galván Rodríguez, poet, writer, editor, and activist, is the author of five volumes of poetry. Her latest book, The Nature of Things, is a collaboration with photographer Richard Loya, from Merced College Press, 2015. She is co-editor, along with the late Francisco X. Alarcón, of the award-winning anthology Poetry of Resistance: Voices for Social Justice, The University of Arizona Press, 2016. She has worked as the editor for several magazines, most recently at Tricontinental Magazine in Havana, Cuba and Cloud Women’s Quarterly Journal online.

Priscilla Celina Suarez, McAllen, Texas (SPECIAL GUEST)

McAllen’s current Poet Laureate, is a past recipient of the Mexicasa Writing Fellowship and has been a contributor to the Young Adult Library Services magazine. Most recently, her poetry was included in VAO Publishing’s ¡Juventud!: Growing up on the Border and Along the River III: Dark Voices from the Río Grande

PW Covington, Yoakum, Texas

PW Covington was a featured poet at VIPF 2015 and has had his short fiction nominated for a Pushcart prize. He has been invited to read at venues across the Western United States, including venues in the Rio Grande Valley and the Beat Museum in San Francisco. He lives in rural Lavaca County, Texas with his English Bulldog.

Richard Sanchez, Edinburg, Texas

Richard is a local author, poet, and photographer. He enjoys writing short stories and poems. His first book, The Jelly Jar, was published in 2013, his second and third books are hot off the press and soon to be released. He promises that his fourth book will be a collection of poetry.

Roberto De la Torre, McAllen, Texas (FEATURED POET)

Roberto De la Torre vive en McAllen, Texas. Es escritor e investigador independiente. Escribe cuento, poesía y ensayo. Es autor de la colección de cuentos El Vampiro del Río Grande. Su obra ha sido publicada en diferentes antologías y revistas como: Literal, Ventana Abierta, Chasqui, Confluencia, Puentes, Céfiro y Novosantanderino entre otras. Su trabajo académico ha sido presentado en Universidades de Estados Unidos, Puerto Rico, México y España. Desde 2004 organiza El Encuentro de Escritores Voces en la Frontera.

Sergio De Leon, McAllen, Texas

Sergio freaks out when he has to write bios. He enjoys the tension between being a Mexican and American. He lives in the hyphen and explores the wreckage of two cultures. He is currently working on his English degree with a Minor in Mexican American Studies and will hopefully be attending Grad School for either Anthropology, Mexican American Studies, or Creative Writing. Typical of Sergio, he is undecided.

Susan Beall Summers, Port Arthur, Texas

Susan Beall Summers is an over-educated, under-achiever who has traveled from the swamplands of South Georgia to the Pyramids of Egypt. She is a substitute teacher, editor, book reviewer, and interviews poets for Texas Nafas, Channel Austin. Publishing credits include Ilya’s Honey, Outrage: A Protest Anthology, Texas Poetry Calendar, Harbinger Asylum, Yellow Chair Review, Nowhere Poetry and Flash Fiction, Di-Verse-City, Cattails, Frog Pond, Heroine Chic, Crab Fat and others. She has given feature performances across the country and remains unapologetic about her open mic addiction

Trevor Wainwright, Castleford, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Stage name, Trev the Road Poet he is, until proven otherwise the UK’s most prolific travelling poet. From Castleford, England making his 6th consecutive appearance at the RGIVPF, becoming something of a travelling institution. Last year in addition to his annual Texas tour he visited the Holy Land writing his thoughts following in the footsteps of Jesus, bringing his total to 950. As with last year he will be attending schools and colleges sharing his work, encouraging others to write, travel and how to travel cheaply, practising what he preaches and notching up even more miles writing even more poems.

Tito Pérez, Corpus Christi, Texas

Long time member of Corpus Christi's Ballabahoomba Poetry scene. Member of several National Poetry Slam finals teams; finalist in Austin International Poetry Festival Slam. Wrote: "Poet, when your inkwell runs dry it will be time for you to die."