Nuestra Palabra Turns 21

Nuestra Palabra Turns 21 and Transforms Houston & Latino art                        

Houston, Texas, February 22, 2019With two decades under its belt, Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say has made a significant impact on the city and its arts. Now, as the group celebrates its 21st anniversary, Nuestra Palabra is poised to take Latino Art and Literature to the next level and fuel a city a wide movement to make Houston the nation’s leader in delivering Latino Art and Culture.  Nuestra Palabra plans to accomplish this by helping the community take advantage of new technology to work more closely together. One example of this is the new website This is the nation’s first online directory for Latinx artists ranging from visual artists to writers, to musicians and filmmakers.

“We are cultural accelerators,” said writer, Tony Diaz, the founder and director of Nuestra Palabra. “We have worked to cultivate our community’s voice through literature. We are now collaborating with other art forms through technology to multiply our efforts and reach more of our community. Houston will be seen as the nation’s leader for supporting and delivering our community’s art.”

MANTECAHTX.Com is a collaboration with Houston Latina visual artists. It is made possible in part through a grant from City Initiatives.

Nuestra Palabra is also the fiscal sponsor for Macondo Writers, the writers retreat founded by writer Sandra Cisneros over 20 years ago. Nuestra Palabra helped the group launch, maintain, and market its website. Over 100 applicants apply for the annual workshops which take place in San Antonio and are conducted by the leading Latino writers in the nation, take place annually in San Antonio. Nuestra Palabra will soon be making a major announcement with Texas A & M University San Antonio about The Macondo Writers Workshop.

Nuestra Palabra’s 21st anniversary showcase will reflect all of these influences as well as the group’s dedication to literature and literacy. The literary celebration is funded in part through a grant from City Initiatives. It will take place Wednesday, April 3, 2019 from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston’s Brown Auditorium. Admission is free. RSVP at

The evening will feature:

The Godfather of Chicano Literature, Dagoberto Gilb who is the author of nine books, including The Magic of Blood, The Last Known Residence of Mickey Acuña, Woodcuts of Women, Gritos, The Flowers, and Before the End, After the Beginning. He is also the editor of two canonical anthologies, Hecho en Tejas: Texas Mexican Literature and Mexican American Literature, and the founding editor of Huizache, the country’s best Latino literary magazine

Mari Carmen Ramirez is The MFAH Wortham Curator of Latin American Art. She will discuss the museum’s holdings of Mexican American and Latino art.

Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garciawill make a special announcement on a new Latino Art Initiative.

The evening will feature leading Latino writers, thinkers and leaders, as well as 3 Nuestra Palabra 2nd Generation Writers who began writing with Nuestra Palabra and are now nationally published authors.

Poet Lupe Mendez will present his his new book “Why I Am Like Tequila”.

Poet Jasminne Mendez will read from her new book “Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays and Poetry”.

Poet Leslie Contreras Schwartz will read from her book “Nightbloom & Cenote”.


Who: Latino leaders, thinkers, and writers

What: Celebrate Nuestra Palabra’s 21st Anniversary

When: Wednesday April 3, 2019. 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm.

Where: Museum of Fine Art, Brown Auditorium 1001 Bissonnet St, Houston, TX 77005

Why: Nuestra Palabra has transformed the landscape for Latino Literature and is now changing Latinx art for the next generation.

Contact:  Tony Diaz (713) 867-8943

Librotraficante, P.O. Box  41628, Houston, 77241


  I want to live inside a camera.


I want to migrate back and forth across the sky

inside a flock of wild geese.

I am their camera and their eye.





I Chose Sides/Claire O'Brien 2001

I Chose Sides/Claire O’Brien 2001





Sad Piano Music from Syria

Ludella Awad, 16, author of Sad Piano Music from Syria/ No photo credit

Over and over,  children show us that their voices can ring out with more authority and power than any adult discourse. This is the second collection published by 16-year-old Syrian-American poet  Ludella Awad, who lives with her family in Albuquerque,  New Mexico.   Ludella has said that she began to write about Syria when she was fourteen because she couldn’t talk about it.

She’s talking about it now.

In addition to two books of poetry,  Ludella has done several public readings, been featured on a radio show, and attracted the attention of the University of New Mexico.

Most importantly, she hasn’t allowed the people of Syria to disappear between the cracks of fickle  Western memory.

I think that’s what she set out to do.



Syria’s Bloody Nightmare

I am in a dream about Syria’s war.
I am in a dreary place where
Everyone is dressed in black;
The chairs are white, lined up in rows.
The people’s faces are wrinkled with grief.
They are picking up dirt with home-made shovels,
Throwing it on the bodies in the open graves.

The people are standing in a graveyard, smelling blood.
I hear the screams of mothers crying for their children.
I see dead roses on the ground;
I hear the wind blowing.
I look at the ground,
And see the photos and memories of Syria blowing away.

My head is spinning and spinning
With photos and memories,
Remembering my grandma,
Seeing my grandma waving to me.

By Udella Awad

Changing the World Through Latino Literature

For Immediate Release
Tony Diaz
(713) 867-8943Nuestra Palabra:Latino Writers Having Their Say
Nuestra Palabra Turns 18
Celebrates Changing the World Through Latino Lit

HOUSTON, TX – February 5, 2016 – When Nuestra Palabra began, we were told that Latinos did care about literature. We were told that Latinos were not interested in writing. We were told that there was not much interest in Latino Literature. We are proud to have proven the naysayers wrong for 18 years. Join us to celebrate the landmark of our 18th anniversary as we aknowledge all the milestones we have achieved as a community.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016, 6pm – 8pm, at Talento Bilingue de Houston 333. S. Jensen. Tickets will go on sale Tuesday, February 23, 2016, during the NP Radio Show on 90.1 FM 6p-7p. They will be available at $25 at the door. $20 in advance. This showcase will feature the poetry, fiction, and teatro of our award-winning authors who started their careers on our stage.

Antonio reading a book by the brook.

Here are just a few milestones.

* Largest Book Fairs in Houston: We organized the Houston Latin Book and Family Festival, which at its peak drew 30,000 folks to the GRB, making it the largest lit event in Houston for any demographic.

* When Arizona banned Mexican American Studies, Nuestra Palabra veteransunited to become the Librotraficantes to smuggle the banned books back into Arizona by using the resources and contacts of Nuestra Palabra.

* We just had our 12 members receive a Master’s Degree in Writing, with 10 MFA’s stemming from our group. Nuestra Palabra has created more Latino MFA’s than the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. As a side note, I’m the first Chicano to recieve in MFA from the UH CWP back in 1995.

* The NP Radio Show: Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say ON THE AIR began broadcasting on 90.1 FM KPFT in March of 2001.

* The Houston Public Library is archiving the Nuestra Palabra papers.

* The UH Library will be archiving our radio broadcasts.

* We are also launching the Nuestra Palabra Anthology.

 More info to come, always MAS.

Beautiful, beautiful women: Yusor Abu-Salha and her teacher

A picture of the slain Yusor Abu-Salha with her former teacher.
Yusor Abu-Salha (right) with her  teacher in the StoryCorps Booth. Yusor was shot to death in February 2015 in a hate crime in Durham, North Carolina / Photo Credit: StoryCorps


Yes, I remember it,
the day I’ll die, I broadcast the crimson,
so long ago of that sky, its spread air,
its rushing dyes, and a piece of earth
bleeding, apart from the shore, as we went.
On the day I’ll die, past the guards, and he,
keeper of the world’s last saffron, rowed me
on an island the size of a grave. On
two yards he rowed me into the sunset,
past all pain. On everyone’s lips was news
of my death but only that beloved couplet,
broken, on his:

“If there is a paradise on earth
It is this, it is this, it is this.”






Vlad Zaycev


Yesterday I bought my first ukulele.

Today I had no mood. It seems to me that I am necessary to nobody.

I just take small guitar in my hands and began playing.

It seems to me that playing on the ukulele very easy.

I prepared for you the song Someone Like You.


I learned it. But I can’t play it.

And today I want to make you happy by my game. 🙂



Vlad  Zaychev is a young Russian musician whose blog is primarily a platform for his music. I found this poem in one of his recent posts when the sentence “Today I had no mood” caught my eye. 

Found poetry purists accept only exactly what is found, whether a road sign, a soup can label, a newspaper headline, a menu – or a  blog post. But I pull out the sentences that belong to a poem as  I see it. However I never change the order of the sentences. That

would  be cheating.

Found poems are poetry’s version of photography. If you’ve never done it, give it a try. You’ll start finding poems in very unexpected


Vlad’s Blog :

Vlad Zaychev just turned 16 and lives in Siberia. You should check him out. He’s charming on a number of levels. Vlad plays classical guitar and covers songs far outside the genre. Although he’s still a beginner, he preforms  with an emotional intimacy unexpected in one so young. And FYI, this actually is the first time Vlad’s ever played the  ukelele! True, he plays it like a guitar, but hey, why not?

He recently tweeted “I am a handsome Russian boy!” – and you can’t argue with that.

When I asked Vlad for permission to use his material, he replied

“Yes, it is finite!” This so delighted me that I wanted to follow him around taking notes, but he won’t have to put up with that annoyence  because he lives in, well, Siberia. At any rate, Vlad will soon be too fluent in English to provide us with these gifts




Whoever you are, go out into the world

Whoever you are, go out into the world


 leaving your home, of which you know each bit.


Your house is the last before the infinite


whoever you are.   (R.M. Rilke)


“M Y  T R I B E! ”  Claire O’Brien


Set me free,  why don’t you babe”?

Get out of my life, why don’t you babe?


You don’t really need me –

You just keep me hangin  on.

When I saw my teacher

Aviary Photo_130661279648187097

Kindness Blog photo 18 Jan 2014 /Graphic additions, Claire O’Brien




I saw you right away,  standing alone while a clickety-clack crowd walked right through you.

Nobody saw you. It was such a thin October day.


There are people stuck forever on the edges of the town:

No one ever told them that the railroad tracks are gone.


For all I knew, the sun might have set off-schedule and then splintered into neon rings, now circling above San Antonio. In those days, people refused to believe in things like their shoes and the weather.  The rain was as unpersuasive as a stranger bumming rides to a parade.

“When no one can see you, how do you stop from becoming invisible?” I asked you. I really had to know.

 Deceit’s standard bearers have long military careers but short lives.  For fifteen years, I had carried the Life or Death Secrets banner into battle for the Family Silence Brigade – but like most FSB vets I was banished with broken knee caps* before I was old enough to drink.

Every version of  everything I had ever experienced was equally plausible to me. I was twenty years old.

Nevertheless,  love somehow recognized me as a fan and cycled itself through the pattern of my days.

____________________________________________*a metaphor

DSCF7243 (2)

Now we are a band! The Food Stamps, seen here dreaming of fame in a San Francisco warehouse.


I was cheered by the apparent sturdiness of this new planet, where many banished people mirthfully recounted” baseless!” allegations  without breaking the world in two. Banishment slowly began to lose some of its teeth about four months after I stopped waiting outside the castle.

A year of exile produced 21 years  of family lies, piled everywhere in crumpled mounds, and confused about whether they had to actually go or could sort of…stay.



Now we are learning to be printers! I am in the middle w my friends (from L) Wei, Jesse, and Judith


Do you remember?  Do you remember when every muscle was a coiled spring,  and every heartbeat thumped out a frantic and – intermittently – exuberant  right to truth, to adulthood, and to freedom

“That’s what I thought”, it said “That’s what I saw.

Hey, that’s another thing I knew!”

______♦   ♦  ♦  ♦   ♦  _____


Thanks very much to the Kindness Blog for publishing this post’s lead photo and for letting me post it.

You can check out more of their work at  A Small Act Of Kindness Can Bring Smile On Million Faces