You are invited to the next Words and Music event at the Tranquilbuzz Coffee House on Saturday, October 21, 2:00 p.m.
Featured authors on October 21, 2017 are Bonnie Buckley Maldonado and Heather Steinmann. Poet Bonnie Buckley Maldonado was Silver City’s first ever poet laureate and is a life-long educator. Heather Steinmann is a poet and short story writer and professor of English at WNMU. Open mic for words and music follows their presentation.
The Festival steering committee wishes to extend their heartfelt thanks to everyone who made the 2017 Southwest Festival of the Written Word possible. Thank you to the speakers for your time, effort, and incredible insights!
Thank you to our major sponsors the New Mexico Humanities Council, Western New Mexico University, the McCune Charitable Foundation, New Mexico Arts and Cultural Districts (Silver City Arts and Cultural District), Town of Silver City (Lodger’s Tax), James Edd Hughs of Edward Jones, the Grant County Community Foundation, the Western Institute of Lifelong Learning, the Town and Country Garden Club, the Silver City Daily Press, Silver City Radio, and the Friends of the Silver City Public Library.
Thank you to all of the businesses, organizations, and individuals who sponsored Festival sessions, donated, and purchased advertising space in the Festival program.
Thank you to all of our volunteers, who make the event run smoothly.
We are fortunate to be part of such a supportive, creative, and enthusiastic community.
Wilson has permitted us to share his thoughts on this year’s Festival, originally posted on his blog here.
The Southwest Festival of the Written Word took place September 29-October 1 in Silver City, New Mexico. The strangest thing about it is just how quickly it flies by. We spend two years inviting authors, writing grants, finding sponsors, locating venues, designing posters, organizing food and lodging, producing promotional material, handing out fliers, finding and instructing volunteers, and sweating the small stuff. And then in the blink of an eye or rather a blur of talks, laughter, and socializing, it’s done.
The biggest joy of the festival, for me, is the intimacy. Silver City is a small town. How often do we get to hang out with American Book Award winners, Pulitzer Prize finalists, and Tony Award winning playwrights? The festival is designed so that we can not only listen to these folk, but also converse with them. The invited authors invariably pick up on the vibe and happily chat to every waif and stray that attends their session.
The authors are a mixture of locals and luminaries from all over the Southwest. Our biggest name regular is undoubtedly Mark Medoff, author of “Children of a Lesser God.” There are no successful theater and film directors who are not, in their own way, fearsome, but Medoff and his wife Stephanie are entirely approachable and charming.
This year, our keynote was given by the novelist and biographer Stella Pope Duarte. Her talk was both funny and moving – a crie de coeur to remember your roots and to live (and write) your life to the full. Other highlights, from the sessions I managed to attend, were the talks and interviews with the young novelists Adrienne Celt, Julie Iromuanya, Matt Bell, and Tim Z. Hernandez. I also enjoyed “I, Custer,” Neal Adelman’s one-woman play, directed by Medoff and starring the brilliant Marissa Bond. Although I didn’t manage to catch their readings, by all accounts our bilingual poets, Andrea Cote and Jesús J. Barquet, were a hit.
There was also the perennially popular session on song lyrics, this year with Melanie Zipin, Charlie Alfero, Andrew Dahl-Bredine and Jack Crocker. They pulled out guitars and serenaded us, with the one exception: Charlie used some kind of new-fangled Bluetooth amplifier thing-y and played a recording. The pre-historic Luddites like me looked on in admiration.
To book-lovers and lovers of the written word in our little corner of New Mexico, we’ll see you again in 2019.
–JJ Amaworo Wilson
Jesus J. Barquet will give an English-Spanish reading and discussion of his book of poetry Venturous Journeys / Los viajes venturosos (Madrid: Verbum, 2015) at the Southwest Festival of the Written Word on Friday, September 29, 2017 at 3:30pm at the Seedboat Gallery. He will also participate in a panel on setting up your own publishing imprint on Saturday, September 30 at 1:30pm at the Silver City Public Library.
Roberta Brown reviewed Venturous Journeys:
Last November while visiting my mother in Miami, I awakened one morning to learn that Fidel Castro had died. The day exploded in celebration, and we joined in, sipping 2 for 1 Cuba Libres and conversing with friends throughout the day. That night, backyards swelled with acapella song. Nobody cared how loud things got in this typically quiet neighborhood on that night. I lay awake in the early morning listening to the singing coming from the house next door knowing that, although a Miami native, I would never truly understand what Castro’s death symbolized for my hometown’s Cuban exile community.
Like the events of that day, Jesús J. Barquet’s Venturous Journeys brings an exile’s awareness to the non-exile reader, and though elegiac at times, Venturous Journeys is more than an elegy for a lost homeland, speaking to readers both inside and outside of the Cuban diaspora. Born in Havana in 1953, Jesús J. Barquet arrived in the U.S. as part of the Mariel boatlift in 1980. Since 1991, Barquet has been a professor at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, and has published many poetry collections. Venturous Journeys, his latest, follows one exile’s path from Cuba to the U.S. and then west through New Orleans and Texas, ending ultimately in New Mexico, in a route mirroring that of the poet himself. The poems marking this geographical trip traverse universal journeys of love, loss, nostalgia for home, as well as hope amidst the strangeness of new places.
Barquet quotes the stirring last stanza of Tennyson’s Ulysses for the book’s epigram, whose lines begin, “Come, my friends, / ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.” In Tennyson’s poem, the wily Ulysses who fought to return to his beloved Ithaca from which he had been exiled now finds himself unsuited to life there, and proposes to leave again for an uncertain future. Barquet’s collection likewise explores both the pull of home and the ways in which distance alters the exile’s relationship with home. In something of an exile’s paradox, the poem Echo observes: “When we were there / the question was to leave: / Now that we are not there / the answer is to return.” To what though will the exile return, and after all these decades, will it be a place he recognizes? Will he have changed as much as the place has changed in his absence, making each of them an odd fit for the other, as happened with Ulysses, Barquet’s poems seem to ask.
Barquet also invokes historical figures in his poems of exile. The first poem in the collection entitled Song of the Banished opens with a reference to Columbus who carries “all his luggage in his eyes” and finds himself “Banished, senile, with /no legs where to grow.” In reminding readers that Columbus, whose exploits forced the exile of millions, ended up an exile himself, Barquet asserts the intention to explore the exile experience from surprising vantage points.
Another historical figure permanently altered by exile, Alvar Núñez Cabeza De Vaca makes an appearance in Barquet’s book as well, providing a clever bookend to the Columbus reference at the start of Venturous Journeys. Following a shipwreck and forced exile, De Vaca shifted away from his identification as a conqueror, and wrote movingly about peoples he had previously misunderstood. Barquet entitles this portion of his collection Shipwrecks, inviting readers to consider their own personal transformative shipwrecks as De Vaca and Barquet himself have done. In Did I, the speaker asks: “Did I make it / or shipwreck,” the answer seeming to be both at once.
As life is a journey whose steps can be retraced only through the mind, Barquet reminds us that we all are exiles from our pasts when in the poem Impossible Return as one example he writes, “Not even dogs will recognize you,” and “Doorknockers will have forgotten your fingerprints.” In Ubi Sum (Where Am I), the speaker of the poem recounts “the patio where [he] played, the games where [he] forgot, the pillow where [he] learned to chat with all things.” Thoughts of home turn naturally from the world of things to family as in Barquet’s poem The House, whose speaker recalls “mother / with her sweet, sad kitchen smell / refrying a burning and soothing taste / for us.” The loss of place and distance of time combine to form a familiar lament that few but Barquet capture so well in words.
Politicians often focus on what they perceive is given to the exile who immigrates. Barquet’s poetry reminds readers what the exile gives up in emigrating. Exile is a disorienting state of being endemic to everyone on life’s epic journey—and Jesús J. Barquet’s Venturous Journeys captures in verse the nuance of exile in ways no reader will want to miss.
Jesús J. Barquet (Havana, 1953) arrived in the US in 1980, via the Mariel Boatlift. He is a Professor Emeritus of NMSU, and the founder and Editor Chief of La Mirada publishing house since 2014. Barquet won the “Letras de Oro Prize” for his Consagración de La Habana (1991); and the “Lourdes Casal Prize” for his Escrituras poéticas de una nación (1998). He was 2nd Prize Winner of “Chicano-Latino Poetry” for his Un no rompido sueño (1994). Among his books of poetry are Sin decir el mar, Sagradas herejías, JJ/CC, Sin fecha de extinción, Los viajes venturosos /Venturous Journeys, and the compilation Cuerpos del delirio.
On Sunday, September 24, 3:00 to 4:30 in the afternoon, at the Church of Harmony on 7th and Virginia Streets, in beautiful and unique Silver City, those of us who believe in the importance of Southwestern writers and writing will gather to trade gossip and stories, to drink some good wine or fine coffee/tea, to nibble on some great cheese and to listen to some outstanding Silver City poets.
Help us make it very clear that the following three beliefs are critical to our lives and happiness:
1. A Silver City festival celebrating writing emits good vibes about our special town
2. A festival in which talented authors talk about their books and about writing sends out an essential message: GREAT WORDS MAKE GREAT CULTURE , and
3. A successful book festival (that is, the Southwest Festival of the Written Word) must cost nary a cent for entrance, so as to attract the inquisitive high school student, the retiree getting by and making do on Social Security, the busy working person who delights in quiet time that comes with reading and/or writing, and all of us who just love words.
Please join us and discover that there are lots of folks in Silver City and environs who appreciate words well put together. Join us to thank a handful of dedicated people who put together the Festival so that we can all welcome over 30 prose writers and poets and playwrights to downtown Silver City. Join us to make clear your support for SWFWW, for the ideals that it furthers, and for a community that appreciates good writing.
We’re suggesting a $20 contribution, but your presence is as important as the money. Give what you can. Please bring friends and those who think that the world will be a better place when there is better writing abounding.
So that we can determine the amount of delicacies we must order, please send an RSVP right now to tomdeplata1 [at] gmail [dot] com.
Thank you and we hope to see you at our event.
-Tom and Consuelo Hester
Award-winning novelist Jane Lindskold will discuss the art of writing science fiction at the Southwest Festival of the Written Word on Saturday, September 30, 11:30am at the El Sol Theater.
Frost McGahey reviewed Lindskold’s Artemis Awakening, the start of a new series:
The planet Artemis was created as an Eden, a paradise where the wealthy could come and experience the wilderness and pretend they were roughing it. All the technology was concealed and the animals (and the humans brought to live there) were bioengineered to help the guests enjoy their stay in an unspoiled, rural world.
But a galaxy-spanning war caused the loss of much of the advanced technology that created Artemis and the planet came to be a myth. That is until an archeologist, Griffin Dane, discovers the long-lost star and finds the reality behind the myth. Dane’s ship mysteriously crashes on Artemis, stranding him on a planet that has strangely remained as it was for over 500 years. He’s rescued by the huntress Adara and her telepathically-linked companion, the puma Sand Shadow. Their journey to find help takes them on an adventure that leads to the discovery of the secrets of Artemis.
Lindskold builds a world that the reader can see and believe in. Realistic characters, an interesting plot, and good action sequences move the story along at a rapid pace. To cap it all, there’s an unusual plot twist. All in all, an enjoyable story well told.
Jane Lindskold is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling, internationally published author of twenty-five novels, including include the six volume Firekeeper Saga, the three volume “Breaking the Wall” series, and, most recently, Artemis Awakening and Artemis Invaded. Lindskold has also written something like seventy short stories, nineteen of which are included in her collection Curiosities. Another recent project is a non-fiction book on writing called, appropriately, Wanderings on Writing.
Paul Andrew Hutton will give a presentation, “From Ivory Tower to the Big Apple—Writing Popular History and Academic Publishing,” at the Southwest Festival of the Written Word on Sunday, October 1, at 10:00am at the Seedboat Gallery. The transition from academic writing to the creation of a commercial work for a broad popular audience can prove quite challenging, even for an author who has written many popular magazine pieces as well as for film and television. Hutton will discuss the process by which he wrote the proposal for his 2016 book for Crown, The Apache Wars, and the journey from acceptance by the publisher to finished book. Throwing off the shackles of the academic mindset proved far more difficult than the author anticipated, but the end result was both professionally and personally rewarding.
Hutton will also participate in a panel with Mark Medoff and Dick Gerdes, to discuss aspects of the literary life such as inspiration, technique, performance, and finding your voice. This will take place on Saturday, September 30 at 3:00pm at the Seedboat Gallery.
Susan Berry reviewed Hutton’s book The Apache Wars: The Hunt for Geronimo, the Apache Kid, and the Captive Boy Who Started the Longest War in American History:
A tagline for the new Ken Burns Vietnam documentary reminds us that “There is no single truth in war.” This maxim holds especially true for the Apache wars of the American Southwest, which like the Vietnam conflict were drawn-out, controversial, and entailed the use of guerilla tactics. While many Native Americans were subjugated in the course of “taming” the West, the Apaches fought back with unparalleled fierce tenacity. Their loose organizational structure allowed bands to unite in attack, then scatter into a surrounding landscape they knew intimately. They were accustomed to survival in a setting where, in author Paul Andrew Hutton’s words, “every plant bore a barb, every insect a stinger, every bird a talon, every reptile a fang.” They fought to the bitterest of ends, when at last there was virtually nothing left to lose.
The Apache Wars chronicles a quarter-century of warfare between the U. S. Army and the Apaches in their own homeland, starting with the 1861 abduction of a twelve-year-old boy in Arizona’s Sonoita valley. An ambitious officer’s ill-considered response to that incident triggered decades of bloody encounters across southern Arizona and New Mexico, also spilling over the Mexican border. Many writers have addressed aspects of this extended and exceedingly violent conflict, and Hutton draws on the published works of more than 400 individuals in his own book (its copious bibliography also includes official records and the contents of archival collections). The resulting account is at once comprehensive and eminently readable.
Felix Martinez, the young captive, was ultimately one of a few individuals to experience the full length and breadth of the Apache wars. Red-haired, blue-eyed Felix grew to adulthood among his captors—as Hutton writes, he “changed from a pioneer ranch boy into an Apache warrior.” His sense of personal identity became further complicated when he enlisted as an Army scout and rode in pursuit of renegade Apaches. Renamed Mickey Free, he was described by a fellow scout as “half-Irish, half-Mexican, and all son-of-a-bitch.” His conflicted loyalties would be tested on more than one occasion, and those on both sides distrusted him. The story of Mickey Free threads throughout The Apache Wars, adding his unique perspective to the larger narrative.
Any undertaking on the monumental scale of The Apache Wars is bound to have a few small glitches. Southwest New Mexico readers may notice that Santa Lucia Springs (now known as Mangas Springs) were twice mislocated, placed first on the headwaters of the Gila River and then in the Mimbres Valley. Apart from the absence of a wall-sized map and a dramatis personae, however, the book leaves little room for improvement. This reviewer wishes the author had noted one bit of ironic historical symmetry—the Apache wars opened with the abduction of a twelve-year-old boy in 1861 and closed with the return of another boy captive twenty-five years later. Among Geronimo’s straggling followers at his final surrender in 1886 was thirteen-year-old Santiago McKin, taken from his family’s Mimbres Valley ranch in New Mexico seven months earlier.
To call The Apache Wars encyclopedic would be an understatement. Although it fills more than 500 pages, this is no mere compilation of facts. Such a masterwork—sweeping in scope but even-handed and powerfully resonant on a human level—can only be produced by a seasoned historian. Paul Andrew Hutton, who is also a gifted storyteller, has proved himself more than equal to the task.
Paul Andrew Hutton is an American cultural historian, an award-winning author, a documentary film writer, and a television personality. He holds the rank of Distinguished Professor at the University of New Mexico, and has also served as director of the Western History Association, and is a past president of Western Writers of America. His latest book, The Apache Wars: The Hunt for Geronimo, The Apache Kid, and the Captive Boy Who Started the Longest War in American History was published by Crown, a division of Penguin Random House, in May 2016 with the paperback released by Broadway Books (a Crown imprint) last May. The book received the Western Writers of America Spur Award for best nonfiction. Hutton is also the author or editor of Phil Sheridan and His Army, The Custer Reader, Soldiers West, Roundup and Western Heritage.
Stella Pope Duarte will give the Festival keynote address on Friday, September 29, 5:30pm at Light Hall on the campus of Western New Mexico University. “Up the Spiral Staircase”: A young girl who liked to read, collect words and produce dramas enacted by barrio kids in her backyard, will in mid-life, find herself a nationally acclaimed author. How did it happen? In a heartwarming, humorous conversation, Duarte—now a multi-award winning author–will share her surprising rise to success via the ups, downs, and twists and turns of a journey that began with a mysterious prophetic message. Led by the “writer within,” her story is an amazing trek into the world of invisible forces, dreams, symbols and awakenings that lodge in every writer’s heart. Duarte will also participate in the “Three Wise Women” panel about the writing life on Saturday, September 30 at 1:30pm at the Seedboat Gallery. Tom Hester shared his review of Duarte’s most recent work, Raul H. Yzaguirre: Seated at the Table of Power:
From “Sí, Se Puede” to “We Are Here, Take Account of Us”
La Causa, the movement by Latinos to gain their rightful place in U.S. society, chipped out its foothold in the 1960’s with larger-than-life leaders. Dolores Huerta, Cesar Chavez, Reies Lopez Tijerina, Jose Angel Gutierrez, Corky Gonzales and many others aroused a generation with charisma and fiery words.
To make the transition from those days of marches, boycotts, and mass rallies to years of national policy making, securing funds for staff and facilities, and laying plans for improved housing, education and employment, is to call upon a different sort of leader.
Stella Pope Duarte’s new biography, Raul H. Yzaguirre: Seated at the Table of Power, tells the story of such a leader who built the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) into the most influential Latino organization of the 21st century.
Duarte, esteemed as a talented writer for If I Die in Juárez about the rapes and murders of young women in Ciudad Juárez and for Women Who Live in Coffee Shops and Other Stories, traces Yzaguirre from his childhood in the lower Rio Grande valley, living with his grandparents, to his service as U.S. Ambassador in the Dominican Republic during the Obama admininstration.
Themes are repeated. Throughout the book Yzaguirre’s capacity for work and his honorable conduct are traced to his mother’s father, Gavino Morin, whom he called Papa. Yzaguirre’s firm commitments to courtesy and justice came directly from grandmother Licha Morin, Mama.
Although Mexican Americans and the Spanish language predominated in San Juan, Texas, bigotry, segregation and prejudicial school policies oppressed the majority during the 1940’s and 50’s. In an episode that Duarte and no doubt Yzaguirre himself cast as heroic, the 13-year-old Raul ran away from home to work on a Corpus Christi fishing boat. It was during that interlude when he chauffeured Dr. Hector Garcia, the founder of the GI Forum, a civil rights organization that focused on Mexican American men.
Returning home and to school, Yzaguirre excelled in debate and extemporaneous speaking during Interscholatic League events that introduced Texas students to the best competition. Pushed by his mother, who lived down the block from the Marins, Yzaguirre knew that failing to attend college was not an option, but that his family also had no savings. He joined the Air Force, raced through George Washington University and by the mid-60’s was in the middle of community organizing.
During the Johnson years Yzaguirre chaired the National Organization of Mexican American Services, NOMAS, comprising largely university students. The White House illegally employed the CIA to spy on and then to subvert the group, creating conflict with other Latino organizations just beginning to find their voice. The period was fraught with constant debates about civil rights and relations between the African American and Latino organizations, about the war in Viet Nam and where civil rights fit in fighting that war, and about electoral politics and the politics of protest and the streets.
Before Nixon became President, Yzaguirre and some friends from the Office of Economic Opportunity formed a consultantcy group, with the bland name of Interstate Research Associates. The IRA pledged to be both think tank, gathering needed statistics about the state of the Latino American community, and program generator, helping groups to become change agents. Yzaguirre was in charge. Within four years the IRA was employing 100 or more staffers.
As the Nixon years progressed, business for IRA slowed and Yzaguirre, who had married while at George Washington University and working in a medical lab, was tempted to return to San Juan, Texas, and operate a service program. His family had endured hard times in the early days of IRA and he was looking for some stability and regular income.
Instead, Yzaguirre accepted the chairmanship of the Southwest Council of La Raza, a failing Phoenix advocacy organization. It would be years before Yzaguirre would find either stability or an adequate income for three children living in suburban Maryland. The biography follows the meandering course of the National Council, which in 2017 changed its name to UnidosUS.
The chairman, never wavering from his commitment to Hispanos in communities across America – the Mexicanos, Chicanos, Mexican Americans, Cubanos, Puerto Riquenos, Salvadoreños, Guatemaltecas, Latino Americanos, Hondurans, Nicaraguenses, and dozens of other national origin groups – and always highlighting their values and their importance in the economic, social and political lives of this country, used every strategem and lever to advance his cause.
Was there no charity organizing Latinos who had made it big in America? The NCLR created one. No advocacy for Latino actors, producers and directors in film and television? The NCLR created one. No single voice for Latinos facing HIV-AIDs, home-ownership discrimination, employment discrimination? The NCLR provided one.
This is a big book because Yzaguirre has led a big life. Now retired and battling Parkinson’s, he allowed Duarte to capture his interpretations of his challenges and victories. When the story strays from Yzaguirre, it tends to become a bit formulaic. The biography, which was financially supported by the NCLR after Yzaguirre left the chairmanship, does not attempt to assess the shortcomings of its subject. Nor does it have footnotes and an index that would have increased its value as a reference for the people and issues that it discusses. However, this biography provides an essential introduction to a vital figure in Chicano – and therefore North American – history.
Stella Pope Duarte is described as a “magical weaver with a sure hand and a pure heart,” and praised as an author who “will enlarge humanity.” Duarte has won honors and awards nationwide, including a 2009 American Book Award, a Pulitzer Prize nomination, the Southwest Book of the Year Award, and a Book Sense 76 Selection. She is a descendant of Irish and Mexican American parents, and was born and raised in the Sonorita Barrio in South Phoenix. Inspired to write by a prophetic dream of her father, she believes that writing, like love, begins within, or it doesn’t start at all.
Megan Kimble will speak at the Southwest Festival of the Written Word on Sunday, October 1, 2017 at 10:00am at the Old Elks Lodge. She will discuss her book Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food (William Morrow 2015), which describes her experience living an entire year without eating processed foods. Kimble was a city-dwelling 26-year-old, busy and broke, without so much as a garden plot to her name. But she cared about food: where it came from, how it was made, and what it did to her body. Far beyond just cutting out snacks and sodas, to avoid processed foods Megan had to ask: What makes food processed? The answer to that question is a journey through America’s food system, past and present. Barb Fila reviewed the book:
The tale of a young woman’s sojourn into a year of living “unprocessed” opens with the query “what is unprocessed food?” Megan Kimble, in Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food, treats the reader to her personal adventure of “unprocessing,” as she sifts through the seemingly limitless possibilities that await when an individual makes a conscious decision to shirk the ubiquitous artificially-flavored and -colored, pesticide-laden, Frankenfood options on our supermarket shelves. Yes, reader, the term “unprocessed” will be bandied about.
Kimble lets us tag along as she visits farms, grain mills, wineries, and landfills; participates in a butchering; makes chocolate; and mills her own grain. She allows us into her personal life, as she discovers the joy inherent in the preparation and sharing of food, as well as the sometimes humorous difficulties – can one go unprocessed and still date a climate denier? She weaves into her narrative numerous developments throughout history, those that have rendered our food supply tainted and far-removed from the producers of what we put on our plates.
While delivering a fact-filled, but never staid, discourse on what it means to be an aware consumer, Kimble reminds us that there are repercussions and ramifications to what each of us purchases almost every day of our lives. She posits that we can, indeed, instigate changes to the food industry by voting with our dollars, and without soap-box histrionics, asserts that we have important choices to make, in her own definitive and fresh voice: “what we do every day is more important than what we do once in a while.”
Megan Kimble is the editor of Edible Baja Arizona, a local food magazine serving Tucson and the borderlands. Megan has written for the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Orion Magazine, and High Country News. Her articles and essays have been anthologized in Best Food Writing 2015 (Da Capo Press), Coming of Age at the End of Nature (Trinity University Press 2016), and How We Speak to One Another (Coffee House Press 2017). She holds an MFA in Creative Writing nonfiction from the University of Arizona, and teaches as an adjunct lecturer in the school of journalism. For more about Kimble, visit megankimble.com.
This review and article was originally published on September 14 in the Silver City Independent.
Andrea Cote-Botero will speak at the Southwest Festival of the Written Word on Saturday, September 30 at 10:00am at the Old Elks Lodge in Silver City. She will discuss her experience as a writer: main literary influences, elements of the creative process, critical approaches to her artistic work, and more. Cote-Botero will read poems from her most recent book Chinatown a toda hora y otros poemas (Chinatown 24 hours and other poems).
JJ Amaworo Wilson shared his review of Chinatown a toda hora y otros poemas:
Andrea Cote-Botero is a much garlanded poet and prose writer, having won The National Poetry Prize from the Universidad Externado de Colombia (2003), the Puentes de Struga International Poetry Prize (2005) and the Cittá de Castrovillari Prize (2010). Her work has been translated into a dozen languages.
Cote-Botero grew up in a Colombia that was gripped by la violencia, the civil war that raged for five decades between guerillas and government forces. La violencia intruded on every aspect of Colombian life: government ministers were assassinated, kidnappings became commonplace, and citizens lived in fear of day-to-day atrocities. Cote-Botero has spoken about how the violence influenced her poetry. At the age of sixteen she witnessed 36 white coffins displayed on the street of Barrancabermeja, her home town; these were deliberately placed symbols of a massacre, “a disappearance” conducted by a paramilitary division. Cote-Botero’s first writing was about fear.
Now settled at the University of Texas in El Paso, where she teaches Creative Writing, she was initially drawn to El Paso by its proximity to the desert. Historically, people of all religions have gone to the desert to take refuge and to hear their own voice. Cote-Botero says the desert forces her to talk to herself.
This outstanding collection, in Spanish, is diverse in range if not in tone. Its themes are home, family and landscape, but also how these are connected to pain, decay, and the passage of time. The titles tell a tale: Miedo (Fear), Sobre Perder (About Loss), Desierto (Desert), De Ausencia (Of Absence), La Ruina Que Nombro (The Ruin That I Name), Invierno (Winter), Todo en Ruinas (All in Ruins), and La Rosa Moribunda (The Dying Rose). The poems, though never despairing, evoke a sense of loss.
Cote-Botero’s work garners its power from naturalistic imagery – desert, flowers, trees, water, rocks and sky – as well as snatches of dialog, and the voice which so often addresses an imaginary “you,” who is the reader or a (usually absent) lover or family member. The poems, formed of short lines each corresponding to a breath, begin in a conversational tone but, through repeated images and driving rhythm, build momentum and take us places we didn’t know we were going. A superb collection.
-JJ Amaworo Wilson
Andrea Cote-Botero is the author of the poetry collections: Chinatown a toda hora (2017), Desierto Rumor (2016), La ruina que nombro (2015), Port in Ashes (2003), Fragile Things and Chinatown 24 hours (Object Book). She has also published books of prose: A Nude Photographer: A Biography of Tina Modotti and Blanca Varela or Writing From Solitude. She has obtained the following recognitions: The National Prize of Poetry from the Universidad Externado of Colombia (2003), the Puentes de Struga International Poetry Prize (2005) and the Cittá de Castrovillari Prize (2010) to the Italian edition of Port in Ashes. Her poems have been translated into English, French, German, Catalan, Italian, Portuguese, Macedonian, Arabic, Polish, Greek and Chinese. Her first poetry book Puerto Calcinado, was published in French by the prestigious quebecois press Ecrist de Forge. She is Assistant Professor of poetry in the Bilingual M.F.A in Creative Writing at the University of Texas of El Paso.