Unwoven by Erika Garza-Johnson

Erika Garza-Johnson’s debut, Unwoven, is a collection of poetry that refuses to be labeled. It is an anthology that explores the author’s identity and plays with a variety of genres. At times, it is autobiographical, contemporary,a saga, or a narrative. At others, it is an observation, a mystery, a drama, or a reflection. But most of all, it is a collection of love poems.

I have known my comadre, Erika, for almost a decade. We’ve traveled together all over the valley and central Texas for poetry readings and workshops. I’ve heard her voice deliver those punches in her work up close and know the shifting of her borders are obvious with her spoken word. Erika has one of the greatest stage presences I’ve encountered because she does not shy away from the intentions of her poetry.

After reading Unwoven, I can honestly say her words vaporize from the page and into one’s perceptive consciousness. So honest and with the lenguaje that is typical of a South Texas community. The rhythm a pattern of words that make it simple for others to comprehend our Tex-Mex slang.

From writing about ‘Heridas Abiertas’ to ‘Pinche Princesses’, my comadre reveals her love. For her family, her community, her culture, her experiences. Sometimes it is not so obvious. Sometimes, her love is coraje. Sometimes, her love gives you the finger.

In all possible explorations of her work, one cannot mistake how she has unwoven her world to share it with her audience.

Comfort Food: Cafe con Canela

If I think back to comfort food, one of the first things that comes to mind is a cafecito calientito. Even better? With canela.

It’s really the easiest thing to prepare – just boil a cinnamon stick in a water and use that same water to prepare your coffee as usual (coffee pot or a la Keurig style).  Drinking this special brew reminds me of my trips to Durango with apa and welo, how it is called cafe de olla in some places and was sweetened with piloncillo. I’m not sure why I haven’t tried using piloncillo, now that I think about it.

I’ve been told that cinnamon tea is good for stress and headaches, so I’m sure this is an added bonus to the comfort part. Funny thing is, all my memories of drinking coffee in Mexico are with the spicy taste of canela. And the pan dulce!

Pan dulce is a delicacy that translates into a tradition in my family.

Visitors stopping by? Panecito run. Novela finale? Panecito run. Domingo? Panecito run. It’s cold outside? Panecito run. Funeral bound? Panecito run.

Thinking about it, maybe this post should have included the pan dulce as comfort food too. Only because it is. And us from the valley, we’re vicious when it comes to critiquing our sweet bread. For one, it MUST be fresh. And there MUST be an assortment, because Lord knows all of us have different tastes. Even our grocery stores (cough *HEB*) carry an assortment of panecito.

I’ve seen a variety of panaderías popping up all over the Sharyland area. My goal? To have a critique of every single one!!!

Beautiful Scars by Edward Vidaurre

I first met Edward Vidaurre a few years ago at a Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival – I believe it was the Poetry Pachanga at the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center in San Benito, TX. Every year that I’ve attended VIPF, it’s always a great opportunity to meet new poets and listen to a diversity of voices. I remember how Edward’s presence was inspiring. His poetry unique because although we have claimed him as a valle poet, his memories of an upbringing in East Los Angeles add a twist of flavor to his verses and allows for us to discover some semblances to life in South Texas that are not quite the same at all instances.

From being an acquaintance to becoming a poetry compadre I am truly inspired by, Edward’s passion in sharing his writing supersedes the idea of simply promoting his work when invited to read at events. Edward shows up to events with the intent of inspiring others to collect their own experiences into writing. A proof of this is the periodical Pasta, Poetry and Vino events he hosts to promote other poets and to open a space for the literary community.

As you can probably imagine, when his latest poetry collection “Beautiful Scars: Elegiac Beat Poems” was released, I was first in line to grab a copy. One can always count on having a great time when reading my compadre’s stuff. I know it’s a rule to not judge a book by its cover, but Edward’s book…well, the cover is enough to have made me grab a copy anyways! The photographs included in between poems offered an extra glimpse into Edward’s world and incorporated a story of their own.

evidaurreOne look at the table of contents and I knew I’d read the book in one take. I mean, who wouldn’t want to read a book about his “greñuda”? As a daddy’s girl, I was able to relate to the bond the author has with his Bella, and embraced the language of amor eterno flowing from those verses. Perhaps not visible to the naked eye, but his corazón bled between the empty spaces on those pages dedicated to his daughter.

I feel this was the most beautiful scar he shared with me as I read his book. Sometimes, loving is just too much!

Visit Edward’s Blog Here: http://edwardvidaurre.blogspot.com/
Purchase a Copy of His Book Here: Beautiful Scars