Help support next phase of Macondo at the Guadalupe
I am incredibly excited to be the new literary arts director at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and to be leading the Macondo Writers’ Workshop into its next phase. As a writer born and raised in San Antonio, equally as affected by the work of Sandra Cisneros as all of you have been—both on and off the page—I am incredibly humbled and excited to begin both settling in and building up. Many thanks to those of you who have reached out to me to show your support; it means so much.
The House on Mango Street was the first chapter book I ever owned. I loved it, and it was upon reading in her bio at the back of the book, “she lives in San Antonio, Texas,” that my dream of being a writer (at age 11) became a goal. It was the first time I understood that girls like me could be writers. Five years later, at age 16, Sandra invited me up onstage with her to read a poem to an audience of over 1,000 people at the International Women’s Day Rally & March at Travis Park in San Antonio. It was 1994. I received a handwritten letter from her about a week later in which she discussed the craft of writing and encouraged my work. These were life-changing events for me.
That same year, because of her encouragement, I applied and was accepted to the Duke University Young Writers’ Workshop, where I participated in my first writing workshop and fell in love with the larger world. I also began to really understand the importance of my voice within that world. A big year for me, I had my first work published—poetry and prose—and, too, was made very aware of the intersections of who I was as a poor, brown girl from the Southside of San Antonio. A year later, the year Macondo was founded, I attended the Lewis & Clark Fir Acres Teen Workshop for Writing & Thinking, where I was—again—the only Latina in the group of young writers. These experiences, inside the classroom and outside of it, confirmed my need to write and strengthened my fire.
Each of us has had a unique road to writing. I share with you just the very beginning of mine to ensure you that my investment in Macondo is one that is steadfast. Our goal, as it has been for years, is to cultivate a community of socially conscious writers who are committed to their work and their communities in the name of social justice and change-making. We know too well, writing from various marginalized spaces—individually, as we set our pens to the page, as well as when we come together to strengthen our voices—that our sheer existence embodies resistance, and change, and possibility.
It is with this sentiment that I have begun creating programming that strengthens and underscores our commitment to each other and to the community where Macondo continues to grow. As our two entities continue merging, it is best that we think of one synonymous with the other: Macondo IS the literary arts department at the Guadalupe (a department that Guadalupe has been without for over 15 years). Every literary event—reading, performance, workshop, outreach program—is strengthened by the spirit and in the name of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop. This brings great pride to me both personally and as literary arts director at the Guadalupe. I hope you share my joy.
With the unwavering support of our Executive Director, Jerry Ruiz, and the rest of the Guadalupe staff, I am excited to be launching many programs within the next three years. Our goal is to raise $15,000 by the end of March 2016. I have set up, with our development manager, Katy Silva, a Generosity account through which you can donate to help us with our $15,000 goal (DONATE HERE).
Here is a sampling of the programs/projects that are currently underway:
- Macondo @ The Guadalupe Reading/Talk Series (fall 2015): Macondo invites writers of all backgrounds to read/present their at the Guadalupe theatre. Writers will also be invited to give a workshop and/or visit local schools. Fall 2015 and spring 2016 visiting writers include Tim Z. Hernandez and Urayoán Noel (Ana Castillo pending).
- Bards & Brew Series (fall 2015): Macondo invites 5-6 local poets to deliver their best work in this festive, outdoor event. Includes music, live painting, and features the best of San Anto’s local poets and local brewers in a celebration of our talented and diverse communities. Local poets include, Macondistas, Natalia Trevino & Vincent Cooper, as well as Octavio Quintanilla, Darrell Pitman, and Amanda Flores.
- Barrio Writers at the Guadalupe (spring 2016): Teaming up with Barrio Writers, a socially-engaged writing workshop for teens that spans Texas and California, twice yearly, the Guadalupe will offer three 10-week writing workshops for teens at the Guadalupe, at the Harlandale ISD, and at the San Antonio Central Library. Youth members will have an opportunity to publish in Barrio Writers’ national anthology, published by Stephen F. Austin University Press.
- ¡Macondistas Presente! Reading Series(Spring 2016): Macondista cohorts will have the opportunity to apply for financial support to present at conferences, festivals, and other gatherings to increase visibility and community engagement of Macondo.
- (PENDING) FRESH INK Youth Slam (spring 2016): Series of workshops for youth slam poets. Youth mentored and accompanied to city, state, national competitions by national award-winning slam poets, Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson & Rooster Martinez.
- Macondo Young Writers’ Workshop (summer 2016): In the spirit of the original Macondo Writers’ Workshop, created in 1995 to cultivate a community of socially conscious writers, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center invites high school juniors and seniors (limit 10) to apply for a three-day writers’ workshop led by a member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop. Modeled strictly after its parent workshop, the Macondo Young Writers’ Workshop will engage youth who seek writing and literary activism as a means toward social justice and change-making. Youth Macondistas will read from their work at the closing of the annual workshop alongside other Macondo Writers. Workshop leader for 2016 is Joe Jimenez.
- Macondo Writers’ Workshop (summer 2016): Of course, the Macondo Writers’ Workshop is still going strong, and in 2016, we will extend our workshops to include not only the Young Writers’ Workshop, but also a playwriting workshop in addition to the poetry and fiction. Workshop leaders for 2016 include Alex Espinoza (fiction), Allison Hedge Coke (poetry), Gregg Barrios (playwriting).
- Macondo Mentorship Program (fall 2016): In an effort to service Macondo’s home community, we will choose 2 writers (one in the fall, one in the spring) to enjoy a weeklong stay at The Casita across the street from the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, in the heart of Westside San Antonio. Macondistas will be required to critique 3 manuscripts of up to 50 pages in the genre in which he or she works (to be read in advance of stay), written by local, emerging writers in San Antonio and surrounding areas. The week will conclude with a short reading by all writers and a Q & A.
- San Antonio Speaks (fall 2016): Macondo invites local elders to engage in a platica moderated by local writers. Talks will explore personal, political, and social history of citizens of San Antonio. Members of Barrio Writers and/or Youth Macondistas will participate in interview and written documentation. Video recorded and documented for archival purposes.
- Warrior Women (fall/spring 2016): 6-week community writing workshop for women and women-identified community members held twice yearly. Writers of all genres and levels will be encouraged to participate. Limit 15.
- Macondo @ The Guadalupe Online(spring 2017): Blog featuring the writing of workshop participants, updates on Macondistas (merging the newsletter), and a digital archive.
In addition to the new programming at the Guadalupe, it has become my project to establish here at the center a space dedicated solely to Macondo. My goal, which is wholly supported by our executive director, is to bring to code The Casita—our approximately 600 square-foot, 1-bedroom house across the street from the center. In this space, we will house the Macondo Library, display photos archives of the last 20 years of Macondo, hold intimate gatherings, meetings, & events, and lodge visiting writers and mentors. This designated space will also serve to keep Macondo/literary arts accessible to the wider community, as I hope to offer the space to local youth as a reading/study space after school and on weekends.
There is so much more, and I am overjoyed with the possibilities we have to make a real difference in San Antonio and in the larger community. Your support of Macondo is vital now more than ever as we seek to establish ourselves in a more visible and accessible role in literary arts in San Antonio. As the current poet laureate of San Antonio, and next year of Texas, and as a Macondista myself, these projects are very dear to my heart. And as such, I am happy to be the first to donate to Macondo in hopes that you will join me in settling in and building up.
Many, many thanks to all of you,
Laurie Ann Guerrero
2014-2016, Poet Laureate city of San Antonio
2016, Poet Laureate state of Texas
Writer-in-Residence, Literary Arts Director