Words by Abigail Vela
Poetry helps us express ourselves through words, voice, music, and art. Throughout National Poetry Month, we invite you to appreciate the poets in our communities who share their individual stories with the openness and vulnerability that poetry allows.
We interviewed seven poets in the Rio Grande Valley to commemorate this month – the following three poets are local published authors whose work has inspired that of countless others. Take note, support their work, and follow their journeys.
Edward Vidaurre is a poet and author who served as the McAllen Poet Laureate from 2018 to 2019. He is an impressive literary figure and editor-in-chief for FlowerSong Press, a McAllen publishing company with the mission to nurture voices throughout the borderlands. Edward is constantly on the move, expressing his love, passion, and dedication to poetry with communities throughout the Rio Grande Valley and beyond.
When did your journey begin as a poet?
On a bus ride. But really, Spending time in my uncle and aunts bookstore in El Salvador in the summers as a kid reading books. Along the way, reading and listening to music and appreciating lyrics.
Where can we find your published works?
I am the author of eight collections of poetry. My poems have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Avalon Literary Review, The Acentos Review, Poetrybay, as well as other journals and anthologies. You can find me at edwardvidaurre.com.
How do you hope your poetry will translate in the world?
Everything I write, whether it’s a poem about zombies or border violence, is meant to bring something to myself and others. I hope that my poetry reminds people of a memory they can relate to, informs some about the issues at hand, celebrates literature and writing itself, and hopefully inspires someone.
Victoria Lopez is this year’sMcAllen Poet Laureate.Victoria currently hosts poetry workshops and open mics for the local community through her new organization, Unfolded Poetry Project: a three-part poetry project focused on writing, listening, and speaking. In 2016, she published her book Fire in May. Victoria’s passion for writing and poetry is ever-present.
Tell us about Poetry on Demand.
Poetry on Demand stemmed from a desire to practice my own writing while engaging with our community. Poetry on Demand is a performative art of writing spontaneous poetry based on word, topic, questions, phrase, feeling, or thought.
What is your overall mission when writing poetry?
Through my work and my writing, it is my intention to remind others of their individual purpose by reminding them that ‘You are worthy’ despite any situation or circumstance.
What person in your life has inspired you most?
I had the privilege of working with Cindy Maxwell, from By Maxwell, for many years. She truly introduced me to the best business practices, how to work with a range of people, and how to be a woman in the workplace. Years later, in different places and times, her advice still helps me gracefully represent myself while respecting my boundaries.
Kevin Adam Flores finds his solace in poetry, starting his journey as a poet with songwriting, dream journaling, and later finding his calling as a writer and poet. He is a published author and poet, releasing his first book, Bittersweet and Blue, last October and his most recent poem in The Twin Bill Literary Baseball Journal this month. You can find him co-hosting open mics through the Poetry Platform at Artevivo Art Studio in Brownsville. You can find his body of work on his website.
What figures in media and literature inspire your writing?
I get inspired by my personal life experiences and captivating cinema. I enjoy works from Pablo Neruda, Amanda Gorman, Ezra Pound, Charlie Kaufman, and Bukowski.
How does poetry help you navigate your life experiences?
Poetry is my therapy. I’m lost without it. Writing is my only talent, the only way I keep myself together from losing my mind. It’s a cathartic outlet.
I’m constantly figuring out who I am through my poetry. I try to be as raw and vulnerable as I can be because if I’m honest with myself, I have a better idea about my identity; I discover new ground from within. I’ve unintentionally put myself through hard times and embraced my culture after a long time of not knowing my place, which carries over into my work.
Poetry keeps us grounded; Poetry is therapy, salvation, freedom. It is a superpower, a light in the darkness, a force to be reckoned with. It is a language that knows no bounds, limits, or borders.
To celebrate the culmination of National Poetry Month, register to attend this year’s 15th Annual Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival. We encourage you to find inspiration from our local poets and challenge yourself to write your own poem this month.