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San Antonio, Texas

July 22, 2011


Dear Readers,

We are gathering our energy for our upcoming Macondo gathering the week of July 24-29, 2011. I can't tell you which year this is, but it must be at least the 15th, I believe -- our quinceañera! I say this with uncertainty because it began with a few workshops that were predecessors to Macondo, two at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, I seem to recall, in 1995 and '96. And one at least in my dining room. We met every year with a one-year haitus because I was wrestling with Caramelo.

So we are Macondo, a collective of writers who know we can change the world with our writing. We know we can, because we have witnessed the change. It has nothing to do with faith, and everything to do with experience.

Our Macondo gathering this summer includes the famosos -- Julia Alvarez, Helena Maria Viramontes, and Manuel Muñoz, whose new book is What You See in the Dark. Just one of these guests would be extraordinary; together they are a force. I am deeply grateful for their generosity in agreeing to come to South Texas in July.

Our fundraising performance, "La Luz: en los Tiempos de la Osuridad," which we share with Jump-Start Theater, is the night of July 27. Call 210 227-JUMP for tickets or grieve: It will sell out. It will be an evening of stories, music with Austin legend David Garza, and dance by the dazzling S.T. Shimi. The fun starts at 7 p.m. Remember, it's a one-night-only event! Not to be missed.

The next night, Thursday, July 28, the Macondo writers will read at 7 p.m. at Thierry Auditorium at Our Lady of the Lake University on San Antonio's West Side. The event is free and open to all. We invite you to come and enjoy yourself.

Many new books sprouting up. It seems we have a bumper crop of Texas writers producing some wondrous books. I had lunch last week with Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Award winner Christine Granados of El Paso, whose Brides and Sinners in El Chuco is a thing to marvel. So wonderful to have a woman's point of view of the border.

I also had the pleasure to finally meet Jose Antonio Rodriguez of the Rio Grande Valley. I wrote him a fan letter after reading his The Shallow End of Sleep, just published by Tia Chucha's Press, thanks to poet Luis Rodriguez. I also just got an early galley of Luis Rodriguez's It Calls You Back, the second part of his memoirs following La Vida Loca. His new book humbles and amazes me when I realize where Luis is from and how he continues to move forward on behalf of others, some like cholo Gandhi.

Guillermo Gomez-Peña

Guillermo Gomez-Peña

Guillermo Gomez-Peña bopped into my house for cafecito last Sunday. The Border Brujo was here for a National Association of Latino Art and Culture (NALAC) event, stopping at my house on Saturday night for my high-art sale, and he left his cane in the guest bathroom. (Border brujos are known to do this.) He has two new books (his 9th and 10th), and one brand-new video anthology "just out of the pinche oven after having been cooked at low fire in the past four years." They are, respectively, Conversations Across Borders, Radical Performance Pedagogy: Exercises for Rebel Artists and Border Crossers, and Homo Fronterizus.

Gregg Barrios

Gregg Barrios

Mientras, Gregg Barrios, the San Antonio playwright has his play, Rancho Pancho, opening at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque this summer. It's based on the story of Tennessee Williams and his Tex-Mex boyfriend Pancho, a true romance.

I am reading excerpts of Rene S. Perez's new book, forthcoming from University of Arizona Press. Rene is the 2011 winner of the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Award. And writer Erasmo Guerra's book, Once More to the River, a collection of heartbreaking border essays, is just out. Both Rene and Erasmo are writers from the Rio Grande Valley. Tu crees. What is in the water they drink that we are getting such a bumper crop of fabulous writers?

I hope to report after Macondo. Don't expect to hear from me before! Too busy with house guests and Macondo events. An intense week for me, but also a wonderful week.

I still walk the dogs early in the morning by the river. There is a white stork, a baby, the size of a chicken, who fishes alone near my tree. I watch him and he watches me, and I wonder where his kin are, and he no doubt wonders the same thing about me.

If you are within driving distance, it's worth coming to our Macondo nights. But remember, reserve for the Wednesday night event. You will be sorry if you miss it and are left standing outside in the parking lot, listening to us all laughing and having a wonderful time without you.