There's a Lack of Colour Here (In Houston)

There he goes, barely two posts in and wanting to stir the pot.

Okay, I’m not trying to do that. I mean, I’m going to have to market myself at some point and coming out of the gate swinging for an organization that purportedly represents me isn’t the smartest thing to do.

OH WELL ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

A few weeks ago, my friend Lupe posted the following on his blog.

One question stands out in particular: Where are all the brown poets at?

Naturally, it sparked a lively debate in Lupe’s page. A lot of “We’re trying!” some tempers flaring, animated discussion. It was needed, I think, and I hope that it’s not the last conversation we have on the subject.

But Lupe’s post prompted me to really take a long hard look at myself. What am I doing?

What can I do?

I mean, I have a pretty bare resume as a poet and performer. I started writing poetry in 2012 and have only performed sporadically since then. I’ve competed in the last three Word Around Town tours and once opened for Natalia Treviño at one of her readings, but that’s about it. A haphazard work schedule and my thesis work (as well as admittedly, a degree of shyness) keeps me from just standing up in a crowd and saying, hey, I’d love to read. So I don’t really feel comfortable wanting to change an environment that I’m a complete newcomer to, but I do want to continue having the conversations about how to grow Latino poetry and writing in Houston. I’d like to do that as both DosAguilas/Librotraficante Simbolo, and just as a writer who lives in Houston.

Although meeting other writers gives me a great deal of apprehension. Sometimes it’s great. My most recent experience with NaNoWrimo was like that, where even though I was the odd man out (writing literary fiction in a group of predominantly YA writers) I had fun. Other times, with Meetup.com groups? It was like I was surrounded by @GuyInYourMFA clones without the irony.

So after following the rabbit hole of links in Lupe’s post a few days ago, I ended up at the website for the Houston Writer’s Guild, and I saw that they are having a conference next month. I said, hey, let’s see who’s going to be presenting. After scrolling back and forth a few times, I realized that there was something sorely missing.

“Oh! Like-minded people!” I think, click, click, “Oh hey, there’s a conference not too far from me. I wonder who’s going to be giving talks? Hm…there’s something strange about all these names and pictures and…oh. I see.”

Not a single Latino presenter.

Now, I’m not going to jump to the conclusion that hey, this is all sinister.

Maybe they reached out to a lot of Latino writers and not a single one of them could attend.

Maybe they’re just not active in the arts?

Maybe there’s just not a significant Latino population in Houston?

But there weren’t any Latinos presenting at last year’s conference either, or the conference the year before that one. In a city where 44% of the population is Latino and Latinos are the largest demographic in HISD, I find it really hard to believe that we don’t have raza writing poetry or fiction.

Check yourself, Houston Writer’s Guild.