Macondo Writers Workshop at crossroads, with future uncertain
Mexican-American author Sandra Cisneros has gifted us with many books, poems, and stories such as the bestseller “The House on Mango Street.” She’s also nurtured generations of writers, including myself, through the annual Macondo Writers Workshop.
Macondo is now at a crossroads. It needs an infusion of funds and new talent to keep developing the voices that can continue to build bridges and do good work in their communities.
I attended a reading on July 25 in San Antonio by Cuban-American Richard Blanco, a ‘Macondista’ himself and the first openlygay poet to read at a presidential inauguration, Obama’s second. Hearing Blanco read from his new memoir and poems, as well as getting reacquainted with my fellow Macondistas, I was reminded of what an impact Cisneros’ workshop has had on individual writers of color and of the generosity of Cisneros, its founder. She made good on her promise to help fellow writers and personally contribut- ed the funds and staff to keep the organization going for more than 15 years. For that, I’ll always be grateful. But following a change of seasons, Cisneros has now sold her purple-then-pink house in San Antonio and moved to San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. She has downsized in all regards so that she can go back to her first love — writing.
She made a substantial gift that will keep the organization going through next year, under the aus- pices of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio. But now it’s up to us to take Macondo into the next phase.
In a time of charged political rhetoric that seeks to paint immigrants and foreigners as the enemy, voices that bridge and unite, challenge and illuminate, and entertain and educate — such as Cisneros’ or Blanco’s — are needed now more than ever. Austin Macondistas that have carried the torch include poet and fiction writer ire’ne lara silva, who started the Flor de Nopal literary series at the Mexican-American Cultural Arts Center, and Celeste Guzmán Mendoza, who went on to co-found and direct CantoMundo, a national workshop for Latino poets. The list goes on and on.
To writers who are teaching literacy in their communities, sprouting new organizations or winning awards, Macondo has been a great source of inspiration.
We need to make sure Macondo makes a solid transition into the future, so all voices can be heard.
Richard Blanco reads on July 25 during the annual Macondo Writers Workshop at the Guadalupe Theater in San Antonio.