María Ochoa is a writer-photographer. Her most recent work is seen in the photo book Find Peace in a Restless World. Other books of her include Russell City: Images of America; Shout Out: Women of Color Respond to Violence; Creative Collectives: Chicana Painters Working in Community and Enunciating Our Terms: Women of Color in Conflict and Collaboration.
The California State Assembly honored her as Woman of the Year for her contributions to the arts. She was recognized for her creative work with an Alameda County Supervisors Award. The Hayward Historical Society presented her with the John Sandoval Award for outstanding visual documentation of local history.
Ochoa is the recipient of two Ford Foundation fellowships, a Creative Work Fund grant, and residency with the UC Humanities Research Institute. Ochoa earned her doctorate at the University of California Santa Cruz, and is San José State University Professor Emerita Sociology-Interdisciplinary Social Sciences.
Violeta Orozco is a bilingual writer and poet, author of three poetry collections. Her latest book is The Broken Woman Diaries, available for preorder by Andante Books (https://www.andantebooks.com/store1/The-Broken-Woman-Diaries-p130175617). A literary translator from Mexico City and spoken word artist, she translates Chicana and Latina poets for Nueva York Poetry Review. Also a Ph.D. scholar of Chicanx and Latina literature at the University of Cincinnati, she seeks to restore the fractured links between the broken bones and languages of the Americas. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming from literary journals like Acentos Review, Harvard College's Palabritas, Label Me Latina, MALCS Journal, and Latinx anthologies like Nuestra Realidad Anthology from Somos en escrito magazine. She has been teaching poetry workshops intermittently to underrepresented communities since 2013 in Mexico City, San Cristóbal de las Casas and NYC and currently lives in Cincinnati.
Nobody will want to marry me
because of my dark hair and
they said I was
an accusatory glance
spelling in hatred
the strange letters of my name
You witch you bitch get outta here
go back to your country you
take back your barbarous customs,
you black widow
you slit-eyed slut, you
deserve to be abandoned
on your tiny little island.
I am so glad Jason left you.
That was the official
answer of the law.
They did not even
look me in the eyes
when I pleaded for justice
abortion or divorce, they
they ignored me called me
outsider without even asking my name
my country the sound in my language
that the word should make, they
did not understand why
I had to kill my kids
so many things
would have changed if he—
To read the entire poem, go to "Medea" by Violeta Orozco
Graciela B. Ramirez is a Sacramento based poet and member of Los Escritores del Nuevo Sol/Writers of the New Sun. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and collections of poetry. She is a champion of creativity, community, and the arts.
She was carrying her house
On her shoulders
On her body, on her head,
On each of her hairs.
Everywhere she went
She would take her house
She would see paintings, curtains,
For her house.
Sometimes she would
Frenetically agitate her arms
Out her windows
As if they were screaming.
Sometimes she would climb
To her roof.
She would see the city, far, very far
Howling very much
Until falling slept.
Her house was her island.
She wanted to die
Get out of this world
Be buried, there,In her house.
Norma Beatriz Sánchez Sánchez (Betty) is a Southern California-based Mexican poet. She is a member of the literary groups Escritores del Nuevo Sol and Círculo de poetas & Writers. Her poems have been published in the anthologies Voces y Cuentos del Nuevo Sol, The Border Crossed Us, Poetry in Flight, Soñadores, Mujeres de Maíz, St. Sucia, Cantera, and Los Brotes de la Palabra, as well as the online publications La Bloga and La Palabra. She has participated in the First Latin American Poetry Contest in Spanish, Colectivo Verso Activo, the XIX International Congress of Hispanic Studies and Literature, the International Poetry Festival, Comala, Pueblo Blanco, Voces Colectivas, Círculo de Poesía para Mujeres, and the Latino Heritage celebration, Authors Uncovered with LAX to SAC Poets, among others.
Día tras día, una repetición del anterior: infortunio colectivo
que torna la esperanza en un eco lejano. Lo cotidiano
en su totalidad ha desaparecido; sin embargo,
los pájaros continúan su vuelo sin inmutarse.
Somos otros, aunque seamos los mismos. Nuestra
imagen reflejada en múltiples pantallas; tan vulnerable,
tan frágil, como alas transparentes de libélula.
Tras los muros de cristal suceden las estaciones. Confinados
contemplamos la lluvia, los almendros en flor, las hojas secas.
Las horas y la muerte se desplazan en silencio, implacables,
provocando el distanciamiento de cuerpos y emociones.
Este paréntesis absurdo nos obliga a vivir en el presente. ¿Donde
quedó la prisa, los planes, los horarios ocupados?
Estiramos las noches por la amenaza de que no haya un mañana.
En ese contexto ambiguo evocamos nuestro origen. Rescatamos
los fragmentos de resiliencia acumulados para este momento. En esa pausa
forzada desciframos la incógnita de la transformación y el equilibrio.
Con los escombros construimos un espacio para refugiarnos, el arte
esa hebra que nos hilvana a los demás, el contrapunto
de conexión, de comunión con la vida misma.
Nos sumergimos en la tarea de crear desde la soledad. Sin intento
de trascender o inmortalizar una tragedia, sino para inventarle
un final distinto de apertura y continuidad.
Sara Santistevan was born and raised in Orange County, California, where she grew up around vivid storytellers. She is a lifelong writer who only ventured into the world of poetry after a successful 7th-grade poetry project. During her time at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), Sara’s decolonial sci-fi short story, “The Visitors” was published in the fourth volume of Metamorphose Literary. She received the 2021 Kresge College Reyna Grande Scholarship for her poetry on the Latina identity. She graduated from UCSC with a B.A. in Literature, a B.A. in Legal Studies, and Phi Beta Kappa honors. Her forthcoming chapbook, The Root from Which Freedom Blossoms, explores how conflict caused by complicated mythologies, histories, and cultural norms can live on in the internal lives of marginalized individuals. In her free time, Sara enjoys visiting local cafes, petting all her neighborhood cats, and discovering the raw magic of the written word.
Over coffee, my grandmother is so excited she forgets
to switch to English. This is my favorite puzzle:
pull apart histories like gold chains,
tangled up and obfuscated.
She prepares me: Venga, ok?
Pues, soy ciudad cálida,
pero es como leche que me gusta.
Pero allá? Vacas rompieron. No sofisticados;
así que no me gusta eso, no. Pero…
You know when you boil it and there’s fat?
Well, they separate the fat from
the milk and spread it on toast.
Nata. Que ricisimo.
cerca de mí,
ellos vagan y
ordeñan las cebollas de mañana.
Do you understand, nena?
Yes. Your husband’s country
is so different from yours,
yet it naps in your memory like home.
America was your gold-plated
refuge but you can’t help yourself;
home will always linger south
of your heart because
you are warm, like wind,
like Buenos Aires,
like the body heat of a city,
like the milk from the cows on
the farm in Quito. Not the cold
but grass milk, or
if you were lucky, onion milk
when the cows were feeling rebellious
and you looked on as his family fixed
the broken fence guarding the onion fields.
Carla Schick is a Queer transformative justice activist and writer. Born in New York, and living in the Bay Area, their writing attempts to weave together personal stories, politics, history, and resistance & liberation. They have been published in Milvia St., Forum Literary Journal, Sinister Wisdom, Berkeley Times, California Quarterly and Earth’s Daughters. Their work also appears online at A Gathering of the Tribes and The Write Launch. They won first place in the Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Prize (2012, 2018). They are currently completing work at Berkeley City College to receive their Certificate in Poetry (Creative Writing).
Excerpt from "Dear Young Queer Non-Binary Poet"
Older than you, I wandered wide, but infinitely narrow, New York, Queens streets in search of my body. Yes, my body. I sat in the drip drip drip of basement pipes with my best girlfriend as we promised to grow up together. This didn’t happen. I grew up. Left. She shattered under the weight of her father’s history of mental depression.
I grew up and have the scars to prove it: shin dented and scraped, and a cut over my eye where J. ran into my head with her teeth as I went to tag her out in running bases. I still can awkwardly bend the finger that my dad splinted saying everything would be okay; so I went bowling. The body I tore at and wore out. The knee whose cartilage collapsed so I could pretend I couldn’t do PE anymore. The body I learned how to disappear under too big clothes and lunches thrown out.
To continue reading go to https://thewritelaunch.com/2020/07/dear-young-queer-non-binary-poet/
Kadiri Vaquer Fernández is a Puerto Rican poet, translator and educator living in the Monterey Bay area. She holds a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, an MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish from NYU, and a PhD in Spanish and Portuguese from Vanderbilt University. She has published two collections of poetry, Andamiaje and Ritos de pasaje, and she translated the anthology Literary Works by 10 Dominican Women. She is currently working on a memoir in poetic prose. As an educator, Kadiri has taught Spanish, creative writing, Caribbean and Latin American literature, and courses on gender, feminism, and queer studies. Her poetry and research have been included in anthologies, literary magazines and academic journals in Puerto Rico, Spain, and the U.S.
Me entrego a los puentes
a su dudosa promesa
a sus posibilidades
multiplicándose con cada
paso volviéndose tangibles
por la premura.
Dibujo una casa
dos ventanas abiertas
un jardín sin columpio
y una cuna
para los pájaros
que doy a luz
mientras finjo estar conforme
con la rutina
los platos en el fregadero
la redistribución de quehaceres
le pido una tregua al porvenir.
Cansada de celebrar las horas del tedio
en que el aislamiento se dilata
hasta nuevo aviso busco
pistas en el calendario
como en un ojo de agua
tacho la casa, las ventanas, la cuna
y dibujo un puente
como el de esta foto
con su cielo despejado
sus fachadas azules
y tu rostro en el centro
prueba de que el futuro
es siempre una hipótesis
Naomi Quiñonez is a poet, educator and activist. She is the author of three collections of poetry, Hummingbird Dream/Sueño de Colibri, The Smoking Mirror and The Exiled Moon. A recent recipient of The City of Berkeley’s Lifetime Achievement Award in poetry, her work has appeared in many publications including the Colorado Review, Infinite Divisions and From Totems to Hip Hop. She is a featured poet in the Maestrapeace: A San Francisco Women’s Building Pictorial (2019) and Voices of Our Ancestors: Chicana Spirituality (2019). She curated several major literary readings including “Olmecas Singing in the Flowers (De Young Museum) and the Bay Area Librotraficante reading to revisits book banning (San Francisco Library). Quiñonez is editor of several critical and literary publications including Invocation L.A: Urban Multicultural Poetry, which won the American Book Award and Decolonial Voices: Chicana Chicano Studies in the 21st. She has read with Quincy Troupe, Ana Castillo and Luis Rodriguez in many literary events throughout the country including the San Antonio Book fair and the Miami Book Festival. Quiñonez holds a PhD in American History and contributes to the scholarship of Latino/as and women of color. She is the recipient of a Rockefeller Fellowship and is featured in Notable Hispanic Women and in the Dictionary of Literary Biography.
We Are All Connected
We are all connected
to the belly of the earth
Each soul kicking-out
Flames fed by the heat,
of magma, lava and crust.
Billions of umbilical cords
Tied to a common center.
We are a bouquet of flowers
balloons and bellies
that cannot escape
each others breath
each other’s divine imperfect lives
Or profane and comic deaths.
This is how I know the pain
Of flesh sliced to pieces
By instigated metal
Cutting through air
To make its mark
On children huddled
In futile corners
Of scattered rubble.
This is how I feel
The twisted gut-wrenched cry
In the torn stomachs of women
Who watch loved ones
Explode into heaps of useless ash.
Yesterday’s frightened eyes
Melting into pockets of charred skin.
This is how I see
A civilization disappear
Under a blood-stained blanket
Held by men armed with lies and terror
Another piece of humanity
Ripped out of the womb
Of mother earth
Another dream of peace
Raped at gunpoint.
My belly is a heavy weight
I carry into the uncertainty
Of each hesitant day.
My heart is a bruised
Of haphazard futures.
The center tugs hard
Yanks the collective heart
Clears the common eye
Pulls the blood from our tangled veins.
And if you don’t feel this
You are lying.
Diosa Xochiquetzalcóatl, or Diosa X for short, is a multilingual and multidimensional Xicana, Indigenous, MeXicana poetiza. She has featured, presented, and performed nationally and internationally at open mics, literary events, international poetry festivals, local libraries and slam competitions. She has been published in literary journals and magazines as well as several anthologies in both English and Spanish. Diosa X is the author of two poetry collections, with a third collection on the way: A Church of My Own (2021), Hechizera: Sus Sultry Spells (2022), and West of the Santa Ana and Other Sacred Places (2023).
Empanadas de Calabaza
She pulled me out of an agavachada kitchen.
Save the pumpkins! Save the pumpkins!
Say no to Jack-O-Lanterns.
She pulled out of the calabaza the same seeds
I would buy at the corner liquor store.
The same seeds.
She pulled me into a cocina Mexicana where I learned to knead the masa, cook the calabaza,
bake the empanada, then eat them with my Nana.
She pulled and pulled and pulled the Mexicana,
the same one my mom tried to stuff away in las empanadas de mi Nana.