On the Books Part Four: Three San Antonio writers to watch

Laurie Ann Guerrero

As a native Southsider, poet Laurie Ann Guerrero has always appealed to me. Hers is one of those “local girl done good” stories. She got her start at Palo Alto College, transferred to Smith College in Massachusetts, and went on to earn an MFA in Poetry and Poetry in Translation from Drew University. Both an Ada Comstock Scholar and a Sophia Smith Scholar in Poetry/Creative Nonfiction at Smith College, Guerrero returned to SA, where today she teaches creative writing back at Palo Alto.

I remember the first time I heard her read. Guerrero and poet Jenny Browne entertained a dozen or so listeners alongside writer John Igo under a sprawling tree outside that library that bears Igo’s name. Guerrero entranced listeners with her ode to the “Little Mexican Pot,” and with a remembrance for two local children whose mother buried them under their house in the spring of 2007. Guerrero’s signature red lipstick conjures a fiery poetic force, but her poems don’t just blow across the landscape — they dig down like a soul-seeking spirit.

Her work has appeared in BorderSenses, the Palo Alto Review, and Literary Mama, and she is a two-time recipient of the Rosemary Thomas Poetry Prize. Guerrero’s first book of poetry, Babies Under the Skin (Panhandler Publishing, 2008) was named winner of the Panhandler Chapbook Award by San Antonio’s unofficial poet laureate, Naomi Shihab Nye.

For more information visit laurieguerrero.com.


Joe McKinney

They don’t write it any better than this. By day Joe McKinney is a sergeant for the San Antonio Police Department, and by night he’s an author of horror, crime, and science fiction novels. He’s best known for his four-part Dead World series, which begins with a zombie apocalypse wreaking havoc on San Antonio after hurricanes smack into Houston. His work has been nominated for the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in a novel.

My memory of McKinney is void of any mention of blood or gore. It was the first time I’d heard him read and people were trickling out of a room at the Central Library. Then McKinney’s two young daughters came running in, peppering him with questions and pleading for a story of their own. He opted for a more age-appropriate piece, one with no mention of zombies. Instead, he recited an off-the-cuff story about two princesses. His knack for telling a good story and his general good nature are appealing, causing listeners to hang on to every word.

Perhaps by nature, but certainly by training, McKinney thrives on details, making it a natural progression for him to begin his stories with a single well-developed scene and go from there. His recent crime novel, Dodging Bullets, for instance, “grew out of an image I had of two men driving in a pickup with a dead body in the back, the tarp over the body flapping like Superman’s cape in the wind. … Once an image like that takes hold, the rest of the story grows around it,” McKinney said. “I’ll spend as much time as it takes letting that story ferment in my mind.”

But if writer’s block ever factors in, he is apparently able to dispatch it quickly. He has about 20 short stories and novellas set to come out by the end of the year, a short-story collection featuring his zombie tales, his next novel is due to his editor by December 1, there’s a graphic novel script in the works, and he’s editing three anthologies. As if that weren’t enough, he’s staying involved in the local literary scene, too, as a member of the San Antonio Writers Guild. “I enjoy telling stories, on paper and in person, and part of that is the wonderful playfulness of language,” McKinney said. “It’s fun to chase your own tail sometimes, building a tale by degrees.”

For more information visit joemckinney.wordpress.com.


Trey Moore

I’ve heard Trey Moore read about a half-dozen times, and each reading has been memorable — especially his “2 to Watch” performance with local artist Ken Little last summer. Moore came out dressed in black from head to toe, his face painted in the style of a calavera; his movements to the front of the room were graceful but his tall stature presented hints of gawkiness. Moore is a passionate yet gentle speaker with a penchant for the bizarre; he knows how to put on a show and draw the crowd in.

Moore describes himself as a Texas native and a fourth-generation carpenter. He has taught in public schools, homeless shelters, and juvenile detention centers, as well as at Northwest Vista College. He’s also the founder and director of New Ground, an environmental arts action group. His poetry has appeared in the Texas Observer, Merge, Borderlands, Exquisite Corpse, Origami Condom, and the Santa Fe Writers Project.

Bryce Milligan of Wings Press lovingly describes Moore as a “very interesting writer.” The two worked together on we forget we are water, Moore’s saddle-stitched chapbook put out by Wings Press. The chapbook was the winner of the first Whitebird Chapbook Series competition, which honors Wings Press founder Joanie Whitebird by introducing “new and innovative poetic voices.”

Last year Moore released Some Will Play the Cello (Pecan Grove Press), a book of poems that was met with glowing reviews and resulted in him being selected by the Texas Institute of Letters as a Bob Bush Memorial Award finalist. This summer Moore will co-teach the Young Writers Camp at Gemini Ink with local writer Donna Peacock. For more information visit treymoore.org.

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