The Second Generation of NP by Libroraficante Lips Mendez aka Lupe Mendez : NP Blog
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The Second Generation of NP by Libroraficante Lips Mendez aka Lupe Mendez

by Tony Diaz on 07/01/14


This part of NP starts up a little bit after Alvaro, Icess, Radames and Russell have moved on to take on new projects (both Icess and Russell have moved away.) I guess my best  memory would have to be when we had the Nuestra Palabra "Writing Troupe" which Tony pushed us to get organized.

Alvaro, Stephanie, Tonzi, Radames, Eliza Garza and I were constantly getting booked at one place or another. One of the first times Tony had us together as a troupe was the Texas Book Festival, in the poetry tent, run by Tammy Gomez. We did that for two or three years in April between 2001 - 2003.
 
It was a cool gig. During one of those years, we were even on a panel where we got to share our work and discuss themes and craft. Soon after, we were able to sit in on a massive panel held in the senate chamber inside the Capital Building, one with Jimmy Santiago Baca, Raul Salinas and Sandra Cisneros. It was for me a once in a life time chance to hear from some of the most potent voices in Latino Lit.

So the questions came in from first the moderator and then from select press members and one questions posed to Sandra got a reaction that I never forgot. Someone asked her "How do you feel being named as an important "Hispanic' writer?"

Sandra's response caught everyone's attention, not only because it was a smart response, but because, she was putting people on notice. She made people uncomfortable, "why do you and the rest of the press have to keep labeling me, labeling US as just 'Hispanic' writers?!?!  Why can't we just be the best damn writers you know? I am not just Hispanic. I am Mexican American AND a writer. You end up putting limits on who reads my work and how people view what I do. You sir, you have it all wrong!" 

She got the whole crowd mumbling in the stands, and Jimmy nodded and agreed saying "yep," and Raul, that cool cat, he just smiled at her and at the crowd and said "she's right, she's right."

Slowly, an applause resonated across the chamber. It was then, at that moment, that I finally realized, having had the chance to meet them all individually, and then seeing them as a whole group, speaking about the craft and the energy that writing requires, that I was part of something great. I was a part of a "scene". I was a part of a greater movement - the world of a writer, and I had some of the best in my very corner.  I had a goal after that day. I would make my writing tell a story as a part of the writers of the southwest. 

After a few years, I had the honor of reading one last time with Raul Salinas (que en pas descanse). It would be his last reading- at the University of Houston, Central Campus. I had the opportunity to open for him at a conference for culture and education. We had words and he was impressed with my work  "keep that fuerza, muchacho". One of the best blessing yet. 

Had it not been for NP, I don't know if I would have the life I have now - it allowed me to spread my wings as a writer, as an actor, and hell, in a round about way, it put in contact to the very way I ended up meeting my wife. A writer's life indeed. Que sigue la lucha!
 
Lupe Méndez
Poet & Educator


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NP Blog Schedule. Come back for posts by:

Tuesday, June 3: Alvaro Saar Rios

Tuesday, June 10: Russell Contreras

Tuesday, June 17: NP Discovery.    First publication: Karina Quevedo

June 24: Carolina Monsivais

July 1: Lupe Mendez

July 8: Loida Casares

July 15: Ices Fernandez 

July 22: Xavier Garza

July 29: NP Discovery. Welcome a   new voice: Luis Ochoa

August 19: Zelene Pineda Suchilt


We're kicking off this point in our journey with this essay in the Huffington Post:

Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say
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