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Poesía Tejana: Collections by Texas' Newest Latina Poets

Poesia Tejana Award Beginning March 1999, the Poesía Tejana Prize was given to four Tejana poets (women of Hispanic background living in Texas) under the age of 30 each year. Recipients were selected on the basis of artistic merit and initiative, having contributed to the literary community of Texas by publishing their work in literary magazines and anthologies and by giving public readings from their work.

Poesía Tejana [is] a kaleidoscope of powerfully raw and unforgiving poems by . . . young Latinas [who] cast an unflinching eye on their realities, capturing snapshots of mother earth, the strength of sisterhood, and bitter family secrets.Latina Magazine

Through this publishing endeavor, the literary aspirations of young Latina poets are encouraged. Each numbered volume is signed by the author, giving the personal touch that only a small press can deliver. The volumes in this series would serve Latino communities in public library collections, as well as academic creative writing classes and women's studies programs.--Mary Clare Wickins, in REFORMA Newsletter (Summer 2000)

All 1999-2000 Poesía Tejana titles are priced at $12.All 2000-2001 Poesia Tejana titles are $14.

2000-2001 Winners

1999-2000 Winners

Poesia Tejana Contest Rules

2000-2001 Premio Poesía Tejana Winners

Splintered Silences / Silencios Astillados, by Greta de León, translated from the Spanish by James Hoggard with the author

ISBN: 0-930324-63-3. Paperback, $14 | Buy this book

Splintered Silences / Silencios Astillados Greta de León Anchondo was born in Mexico City. For the past four years she has lived in San Antonio, Texas, where she works as the Theater, Film Series and Design Coordinator for the Mexican Cultural Institute. She was a founding partner and the first director of the VAU contemporary art gallery, and worked as the Assistant Director of the Palacio Nacional de Bellas Artes Museum, both in Mexico City. In 1995 she received a fellowship from the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes to study French and French Literature at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, with Professor Mireille Pingeot, with additional coursework at the Unversity of Reims on Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collections.

The co-translator, Dr. James Hoggard, is the current Poet Laureate of Texas.

Here where the "soul's threads" are "frayed by doubt," the poet is determined "to live, exercising the secret and / merciless mystery / of desire and silence." Here a word, "suspended / threatens like a thunderhead" or it can "fall on lips / that refuse to pronounce farewells." Here the "outline of fear" is a "profile illuminated by stories and dreams," an "unconscious landscape / fused flesh and stone." Here then is a new voice willing explore depths of vision rarely reached in a first book.-- Bryce Milligan, Editor, Daughters of the Fifth Sun, ÁFloricanto Sí! A Collection of Latina Poetry, etc.

No, no son silencios astillados, es vendaval, brama, es el sue–o indeterminable, trunco, inasido, obsecado, de la ni–a, sus afanes de oropel colgando de listones de todos los colores, sus despertares hœmedecidos en el estiaje de la caricia, es una estrella en la cruz de David, la piel jironada, la asepcia del atav’o, la mirada serena y hueca, el chaquete—n de safari, y lo que sigue. . . . No, no son silencios astillados, es dolor, angustia, drama, esperanza conformada en lejan’a y solitud, en aullidos que se desbaratan en el traquetear de un tren, en aviones, autos y naves que nunca llegan al puerto. No, no son silencios astillados, es energ’a, mando, humor, alegre’a de vivir, es el empezar de nuevo desde donde siempre desde donde entonces desde donde ayer. No, no son silencios astillados.-- Felipe Santander, dramaturgo

The Laughter of Doves, by Frances Marie Treviño

 ISBN: 0-930324-61-7. Paperback, $14 | Buy this book

The Laughter of Doves Frances Marie Treviño is the chair of the English department at Thomas Jefferson High School in San Antonio, Texas, home of the oldest high school literary magazine in the state. She is also a writing instructor at The University of the Incarnate Word. Her publications include A Certain Attitude: Poems By Seven Texas Women and a chapbook, Mama & Other Tragedies (both Pecan Grove Press). The Laughter of Doves is a recipient of the 2000 Premio Poes’a Tejana.

Breathless, yet filled with light and mystery, Treviño's poetry has the directness and simple sensuality of poetic truth. Emotions bared, her images flutter upward like the laughter of doves. This young poetic talent truly has the power of "artery, vein, blood and breath." -- Carmen Tafolla, Ph.D. author of Curandera, Sonnets to Human Beings, and other works.

Somewhere Between Houston and El Paso, by Carolina Monsivaís

ISBN: 0-930324-62-5. Paperback, $14 | Buy this book

Somewhere Between Houston and El Paso Carolina Monsivaís is currently an Outreach Advocate at Sexual Trauma and Assault Services, Inc. (STARS) in El Paso, Texas. Originally from El Paso, she moved to Houston in 1994 to complete her education (B.A. 1998). While in Houston she was first a Residential Advocate, then School's Educator for the Houston Area Women's Center. She is a recipient of an Individual Artist Grant supported by the City of Houston/Harris County (2000).

Here are poems from the heart of a committed activist side-by-side with poems of personal insight. Catching sunsets that greet her "with a different face / each time I make my way back home / to desert," Monsivaís finds both courage and inspirationsomewhere between Houston and El Paso. -- Bryce Milligan, Editor, Daughters of the Fifth Sun, ÁFloricanto Sí! A Collection of Latina Poetry, etc.

Carolina MonsiviasÕs approach toward art frees us to enjoy our roles as writers, teachers, activists. She has a gift for telling stories that are provoking and moving through the most essential elements of poetry. Hard hitting but uplifting; tough as nails but soft as a kiss, this is art that forges a new imagination where we can revel in the horror and the glory of the human experience.-- Tony Diaz, author of The Aztec Love God, editor of the anthology Latino Heretics

Review: El Paso Times (Sunday, April 27, 2003) Poetry details life in Houston to El Paso area-- By Raymundo Eli Rojas

"I drop a rope inside myself and with callused hands covered with blood I pull on the rope that has my strength on the other end." So reads an untitled poem, descending like a rope down a page in Carolina Monsivais' small book of poetry "Somewhere between Houston and El Paso,"

Monsivais, a youth outreach counselor in Houston, grew up in El Paso's East Side and attended Eastwood High School. She graduated from the University of Houston and, while there, began writing poetry. She also began counseling women and children who had been victims of violence.

Monsivais describes how for years she counseled the same woman who would come into the counseling center -- though not really the same woman, but each time another woman in the same situation: "She arrives stifled / she arrives in silence / she arrives calculating / she arrives wearing the face of too many women."

The poet's work won the Premio Poesia Tejana Prize, and she was awarded the city of Houston/Harris County Individual Artist Grant.

"Somewhere Between" has a style reminiscent of Lorna Dee Cervantes with the thirst for human rights of Abelardo B. Delgado. Women play a big role in Monsivais' poetry, which includes poems about a sister, grandmother, a mother with cancer and many nameless women with fresh wounds delivered by their spouses.

In one poem, the poet even describes fellow El Pasoan Cecilia Rodriguez. In the poem, Rodriguez, Monsivais describes the Zapatista rebellion of 1994 to a Houston audience: "She brought to us stories of pueblerinos whose names we'd later write on paper tombs during a protest of their massacre." The title poem states,

As always, I anticipate the sunset
that greets me with a different face
each time I make my way back home
to desert, I carry always right
below skin in sand-swept pulses,
It drops red, behind mountains ...

Monsivais' work is one that the reader will soak up and cherish. Her future looks bright, and we hope she keeps her pen flowing.Copyright 2003, El Paso Times. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of the author.


1999-2000 Premio Poesía Tejana Winners

Nicole Pollentier: Smolt

ISBN: 0-930324-43-9 | $12 Buy this book

To hear Nicole Pollentier read her work is to be prodded by the voice of a diminutive fury. Now, reading these poems, one is astounded by their uncompromising ferocity and their drive to deconstruct the syntaxes of a world hellbent on its own destruction.-- Cecile Pineda
author of Face and Love Queen of the Amazon

Celeste Guzmán: Cande, te estoy llamando

ISBN: 0-930324-44-7 | $12 Buy this book

Deft imagery, keen observation and stunning turns of phrase call out to you from this first collection of poetry where "esa fortuna" is breathed into the threading of nylons, waking birds become a name, and aging becomes lopped-off pigtails that "waggle in the dust like the cut tail of a lizard." This is a fine "calling-out" from una chingona in the making.-- Lorna Dee Cervantes, author of Emplumada and From the Cables of Genocide.

Cande, te estoy llamando by Celeste Guzmán is a book whose spirited heart beats to the rhythm of the ancestors' empowering legacy. This passionate collection of family poems moves us to remember and celebrate the lives that shaped us, and shape us still. It is a wonder-filled testimonio to the power of reaching beyond imagined limitations. It leaves us with the grounding weight of the grandfather, the merciful empathy of the daughter who steps into her mother's housedress, the child/parent who stands in the healing rain of shared story. Celeste Guzmán understands well that there is no better, more profound way to understand the unique, undaunted self than to write about familia. ¡Ay, familia!-- Denise Chávez, author of The Last of the Menu Girls and Face of an Angel

Mary Grace Rodriguez: Long Story Short

ISBN: 0-930324-45-5 | $12 Buy this book

These poems, dandelion seeds, take me by surprise because they arrive at once spanking new and ancient. An old soul in a new voice. Youthful and wise all at once. Irreverent and sacred. I am anxious to see where these travel. I am certain they will voyage far.-- Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street, My Wicked Wicked Ways, and Woman Hollering Creek

Rodríguez leans into the wind -- and takes you with her.-- Carla Trujillo, editor of Living Chicana Theory and Chicana Lesbians: The Girls Our Mothers Warned Us About

Here is a fresh new voice filled with wisdom and humor. "What would my mother say to me now," muses the woman who has just asked her lover to spend the summer. In the apologetic final line, she offers, "He may marry me." Another poem measures relationships in wonderful images, one that lasts "as long as a family-sized bar of Ivory soap," and another that "made it through a bottle and a half of Flex conditioner." In "Beans," the writer laments that not only do her beans taste nothing like her mother's, they also have explosive gastronomic aftereffects. To use one of the poet's own metaphors, her poems are as immediate and familiar as "water boiling on the stove for tea."-- Mary Clare Wickins, in REFORMA Newsletter (Summer 2000)

Victoria Garcia-Zapata: Peace in the Corazón

ISBN: 0-930324-46-3 | $12 Buy this book

Peace in the Corazón After reading these poems I felt a heartfelt joy, wanted to let out a little grito. The victory here is the act of writing. Poems electric and alive, lyrical, and brutally honest. Having travelled my own difficult route in my twenties with only my poetry as roadmap, I am deeply moved by this poet’s triumphant deliverance from pain to peace. ¡Brava!-- Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street, My Wicked Wicked Ways, and Woman Hollering Creek

Mixing Spanish and English words and phrases in a slim first volume of poetry, the author opens a door to her heart. At first it bleeds with empty religion and abusive love, then swiftly comes to a healing realization of its own womanly strength. In church, the poet loses her spirit to chisme, as she watches other women assembled at Mass. At home, she struggles to be free of a jealous and violent lover who would keep her from her friends and her writing.-- Mary Clare Wickins, in REFORMA Newsletter (Summer 2000)

Smolt by Nicole Pollentier (ISBN 0-930324-43-9) Cánde, te estoy llamando by Celeste Guzmán (ISBN 0-930324-44-7) Long story short by Mary Grace Rodríguez (ISBN 0-930324-45-5) Peace in the Corazón by Victoria García-Zapata (ISBN 0-930324-46-3)