April 20, 2018 Slideshows » Arts

San Antonio Poets Who Should Be On Your Radar 

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It's National Poetry Month, y'all! San Antonio is full of talented and creative poets that write and perform such beautiful works. From PuroSlam members to community leaders, these local poets should totally be on your radar.
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J Alejandro
J. Alejandro has been on several Puro Slam teams but is perhaps most recognized for his work as an open mic host. He is a regular host of the Blah Poetry Spot, the PWA open mic, and Etc Etc open mic.
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Natalia Treviño
Natalia Trevino was born in Mexico City and moved to San Antonio with her mother when she was four. Her first book of poetry is Lavando la Dirty Laundry (a personal favorite), and besides that, her poems have appeared in several publications.
Photo via nataliatrevino.com
Rod Carlos Rodriguez
Rod Carlos Rodriguez is a prolific poet, with a few collections to his credit, and a longtime mainstay in the SA poetry scene. Rodriguez has hosted the Sun Poets Society open mic readings for more than 23 years.
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Andrea "Vocab" Sanderson
Vocab Sanderson is a spoken word, hip-hop, and poetry artist. Her near-two decade long career has been fruitful with involvement in the community: she is a Writer in the Community with Gemini Ink, she’s published in the Pariah Anthology and the Texas Observer, and she hosts various events around Texas, including Verse, Jazz & Poetry with a Purpose.
Photo by Chris Conde
Amalia Ortiz
Amalia Ortiz
Amalia Ortiz has worked on projects like Def Poetry, Carmen de la Calle, Cancion Canibal Cabaret, and Speeder Kills. Besides that, her debut book of poetry, Rant, Chant, Chisme won one of NBC’s 10 great Latino books.
Photo courtesy of Amalia Ortiz
Darrell Pittman
Darrell Pittman is a husband, father of three, educator and poet. He taught in the public school system in San Antonio until 2013. Pittman is an active performer in SA’s vibrant spoken word scene. His statement on poetry: “I try to touch the heart, inspire the mind and move the soul. However, if I get one of the three, I am happy.”
Courtesy photo
Jesse Cardona
Jesse Cardona’s poetry has been all over: twice he was the Voz de San Antonio, he’s been published in various literary journals, and his poem “Bato con Khakis” went all the way to New York. His poetry collection, Pan Dulce, was published in 1998.
Photo via Facebook / Jacinto Jesus Cardona
Jenny Browne
Jenny Browne is the author of three collections of poetry, the most recent being Dear Stranger. She’s worked in schools and in libraries to enhance literacy in the community. Some themes in her work are exploring culture and different backgrounds, such as age and economic status.
Photo via Get Creative San Antonio
Anthony "The Poet" Flores
Anthony “The Poet” Flores has represented San Antonio six times at the National Poetry Slam. On top of that, he’s been the Grand Slam Poetry Champion three times.
Photo by Casey Howell
Laurie Ann Guerrero
Born on the southside of San Antonio, Laurie Ann Guerrero is the former poet laureate of San Antonio and of Texas. Trust us, her work speaks for itself, buuuuut it’s worth noting that she’s been named a top ten debut poet and one of her books, A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying, was listed as a must-read work in Chicano literature.
Photo via Facebook / Laurie Ann Guerrero
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Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye has a Palestinian father and an American mother, and themes of culture and roots are reflected in her work. Her first collection of poetry is titled Different Ways to Pray, and her most current poetry collection is titled Transfer. In her vast volume of work, she’s won four Pushcart Prizes, a Paterson Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and even more honors and awards.
Photo via Instagram / 1440multiversity
Chibbi Orduña
Chibbi Orduña is a nationally recognized poet whose poems have been featured on HuffPost, Mitú, and the Write About Now YouTube channel. He coached and anchored the 2017 Puro Slam Team to its greatest accomplishment since 1999 at the National Poetry Slam - 3rd Place in Group Piece Finals. He’s a regular host of the Blah Poetry Spot.
Photo by Christopher Diaz
Natasha Hernandez
While she’s gained some well-deserved attention for her work on St. Sucia, the zine she started with Isabel Ann Castro, and her previous publication the San Anto Pos, Wow! zine, Natasha Hernandez is a formidable poet as well (not to mention a nurse and a DJ). Her work, often intensely personal, richly and at times excoriatingly explores life as a young Latina in San Anto.
Photo by Victor Luna
Carmen Tafolla
Carmen Taffola was not only the poet laureate for San Antonio from 2012-2014, but was the poet laureate for the state of Texas from 2015-2016. She’s written more than 20 books, including poetry and children’s books. She’s won multiple literary awards, including the Tomas Rivera Mexican American Award for Children’s Books twice.
Photo via poetryfoundation.org
Octavio Quintanilla
Octavio Quintanilla is the current poet laureate of San Antonio. While he teaches at OLLU for the MA/MFA program, he also wrote If I Go Missing, which was published in 2014, along with continuing to submit to various publications. He’s also on the Board of Directors for Voices de la Luna.
Photo via lifeandlegends.com
Nathan Zertuche
Nathan Zertuche, too, is a founding member of FreshInk. In 2015, he won La Voz. Performing with Jessica Tilton-Zertuche, he is a co-Slam Champion of the 2016 Puro Flam finals.
Photo via Instagram / natezen_art
Diamond Mason
Diamond Mason is on one side an After School Programs Director. On the other side, she’s a poet who has competed all over Texas and is an involved member of the San Antonio poetry community. She’s a founding member of FreshInk, a youth poetry slam, a member of PuroSlam for four years in a row, and in competed in Texas Grand Slam, among others.
Photo via Facebook / Diamond Mason
Claudia Delfina Cardona
Claudia Delfina Cardona is a Tejana poet proudly born and raised in San Antonio. She is a graduate of St. Mary’s University and a current MFA Poetry Candidate at Texas State University, where she is also the Editorial Fellow for the Center for the Study of the Southwest. She is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Chifladazine, an online and print publication that is dedicated to showcasing the creative work of Latinas and Latinxs. Alongside Suzy Gonzalez, Isabel Ann Castro, Ana Ortiz, Natasha Hernandez, and Isabel Ramos, Cardona is on the organizing committee for the San Anto Zine Fest.
Courtesy photo
Wendy Barker
Wendy Barker is currently the poet-in-residence and a professor of creative writing at UTSA. Her most recent collection of poems is called One Blackbird at a Time, while her first collection is called Winter Chickens and Other Poems. Her work has been described by Alicia Ostriker as “full of ferocity and rapture, a joy to read.”
Photo via UTSA
Jessica Tilton-Zertuche
Jessica Tilton-Zertuche, like Diamond Mason, is a member of FreshInk. In addition, she was a finalist for both La Voz and Viva Poesia.
Photo via Instagram / tiltonica
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Eduardo C. Garza
A multidisciplinary artist, Eduardo C. Garza is perhaps most known for in the poetry scene as a founding member of Jazz Poets of San Antonio.
Photo via Facebook / Jazz Poets of San Antonio
Pablo Miguel Martínez
Pablo Miguel Martínez’s poetry collection, Brazos, Carry Me (Kórima Press) received the 2013 PEN Southwest Book Award for Poetry. His chapbook, Cuent@ (Finishing Line Press), was published in 2015. Pablo’s individual poems have appeared in a slew of literary publications, including journals and anthologies. In addition to the PEN Southwest Book Award, Pablo has been a recipient of the Robert L.B. Tobin Award for Artistic Excellence, the Oscar Wilde Award, and the Chicano/Latino Literary Prize. Pablo is a Co-Founder of CantoMundo, a national retreat-workshop for Latina/o poets. He has taught English and Creative Writing at Our Lady of the Lake University, Lone Star College, and the University of Louisville.
Photo by Amada Chavez Nunez
Sheila Black
Sheila Black has an extensive volume of work which includes poetry, children’s, and young adult books. Her two solo poetry collections include House of Bone and Love/Iraq. Her literary prizes include tying for the Frost-Pellicer Frontera Prize and a Witter Bynner Fellowship.
Photo via poetryfoundation.org
Fernando Esteban Flores
Fernando Esteban Flores uses the descriptors “poet/writer/dreamer.” He published Ragged Borders in 1996, a collection of poems. Since then, he’s been publishing his poetry in various publications, both print and electronic, including Voices de la Luna, a San Antonio publication.
Photo via Facebook / Fernando Esteban Flores
Frances Treviño Santos
Frances Trevino Santos’ first book, Mama and Other Tragedies, was published in 1999. Also in 1999, she was awarded a fellowship for the National Endowment for the Humanities for boosting the curriculum of Latino Literature. Another book of hers, The Laughter of Doves, won the Premio Poesia Tejana Award.
Photo via Wings Press
Viktoria Valenzuela
Viktoria Valenzuela is a writer, wife, mother of six, human rights activist, and organizer of 100 Thousand Poets for Change San Antonio! She writes poetry and creative nonfiction essays about motherhood, human rights and the very precious moments of life. Her effusive and emotionally/culturally wise poetry has appeared in a number of literary journals over the years.
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Rooster Martinez
Rooster Martinez is a past San Antonio Grand Slam Champion, having represented San Antonio on various Puro Slam Team, most recently as part of the highly acclaimed 2017 team. He’s finishing up an MFA in poetry at Our Lady of the Lake University. He’s also the founder of the Blah Poetry Spot and with Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson and Eddie Vega is coordinating the Southern Fried Poetry Slam.
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Vincent Cooper
Vincent Cooper is a poet living on the Westside of San Antonio. His chapbook Where The Reckless Ones Come to Die was published by Aztlan Libre Press in September of 2014. He is a former U.S. Marine with poems published in several zines, anthologies, and journals.
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Victoria García-Zapata
Victoria García-Zapata is a San Antonio-based poet and activist. She won first place in the regionally televised (PBS) 1995 poetry slam sponsored by the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. In addition to her chapbooks, her work has appeared in several literary magazines, including This Promiscuous Light: Young Women Poets of San Antonio (1996), and in ¡Floricanto Sí! A Collection of Latina Poetry (Penguin, 1998). Her work in the community includes reaching out to at-risk youth through poetry and the arts, through programs such as the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and Gemini Ink's Writers in Communities.
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Eddie Vega
Eddie Vega is a South Texan poet and spoken word artist. Most recently his poems have been selected to feature on VIA buses and the San Antonio Tricentennial poetry collection. In 2017, he was runner-up in the National Haiku Death Match and will represent San Antonio’s Puro Slam team at the National Poetry Slam in August. He's known throughout the land as the Taco-Poet of South Texas. He is coordinating the Southern Fried Poetry Slam this year in San Antonio along with Rooster Martinez and Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson.
Photo via YouTube / Poetry Slam Inc
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Amanda Flores
Amanda Flores is the youngest person to ever represent San Antonio in the National Poetry Slam competition. Then, she repped the city for seven years in a row. In 2013 and 2014, she was declared “La Voz” of San Antonio and before that, in 2011 and 2012, she was the San Antonio Grand Slam Poetry Champion.
Photo via Facebook / Dean Lockwood
Jason "Shaggy" Gossard
Jason Gossard, also known as “Shaggy,” is the slam master of Puro Slam, which is a slam held at Korova every Tuesday night, which has been going since 1999. His books include The Swinger’s Guide to Poetry. He is also an elementary school teacher.
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Rosemary Catacalos
Rosemary Catacalos was the 2013 poet laureate of Texas. Her poetry combines both sides of her heritage, Mexican and Greek, and often includes aspects of history and mythology of those two cultures. Her first full-length collection, Again for the First Time, recently had its 30th birthday.
Photo via Wings Press
John Phillip Santos
John Phillip Santos has won the Oxford Prize for fiction, the Academy of American Poets Prize at Notre Dame, and the Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. One of his books, Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation, was a finalist for the National Book Award.
Photo by Larry D. Moore via Wikipedia
Jim LaVilla-Havelin
James LaVilla-Havelin has been in the literary scene for almost half a century. He’s a literary critic, an educator, and of course, a poet. His books include Rites of Passage, Simon’s Masterpiece, and Counting.
Photo via YouTube / Celebration Circle
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J Alejandro
J. Alejandro has been on several Puro Slam teams but is perhaps most recognized for his work as an open mic host. He is a regular host of the Blah Poetry Spot, the PWA open mic, and Etc Etc open mic.
Courtesy

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