Tuesday, April 03, 2007



Dear Ms. Eiben:


My subscription of Poets &Writers came to an end with this last issue. To be truthful, as a Chicano poet and writer, initially I hesitated in subscribing as it is difficult to spend part of our budget on magazines that do not relate to me as a Chicano writer and poet. The year is up and I have decided not to renew my subscription. I felt even though I wasn’t going to renew, I wanted to share with you some thoughts that have brought me to this decision.

Given the demographics of America and how its color has changed during the last decade, one would hope that magazines like Poets &Writers might also change to be on this cutting edge and be of real service to poets and writers from all the communities around the country. Challenging the status quo is not easy and can be difficult but worth the effort.

Years ago in San Antonio, I organized and facilitated poetry readings in several locations, but the longest running one was at the Twig Book Shop. I remember clearly how the writer from the San Antonio Express commented that the readings that I organized were very inclusive. He said that he visited several poetry venues in San Antonio and they were all very “white.” He was glad to see that Sunday after Sunday, I was able to bring together poets from the Chicano, Black and Anglo communities as well as maintain equal representation of men and women readers. It was an interesting comment and compliment, as I had felt this to be true, but to hear it from an outsider made it more real.

To be inclusive was something that I consciously made an effort to do. My experience of twenty years as a poet and writer attending poetry readings in cities like Detroit, San Antonio and now Denver, have shown me that most poetry readings are male and colorless. In assuring a cultural mix at the readings, I was creating a new community, because each reader brought their audience with them and the audiences were also always mixed.

I lecture around the country, and teachers inevitably ask me to recommend books and magazines for their students and I am always
looking for material to recommend. More recently on a trip to Mission, San Benito, and McAllen Texas I hesitatingly recommended
literary magazines like Bloomsbury Review and Poets & Writers. I did so recently because of the article “No Silence for the Dreamer, the Stories of Ana Castillo,” in the March/April 2000 issue of Poets & Writers. I did recommend it as I thought the article featured a woman who could be a role model for the young writers especially female writers, I would be addressing during those workshops.

In San Antonio some Anglo friends chided me about wanting to subscribe to your magazine. Their comments basically agreed with me and made a point of telling me just look at the faces in the winners of Grants + Awards and see how many are people of color. I know you are not responsible for this, but I think it points out the covert racism that is still such a great part of the publishing and literary world. And this in the year is 2000.

A few years ago, I participated in a literary festival in Austin, Texas and all the journals and Texas publishers who were “Texas
Literature” there left me angry because of the absence of Tejano, Chicano writers. One would have never thought they were in Texas, a state which not too much earlier had been Mexico. They were all very friendly people, good people, and I’m sure they would have been offended had I brought, this oversight to their attention

What is it that I’m looking for? I suppose rather than feature one Chicana a year, I would have each issue of Poets & Writers with articles featuring Chicano, Black, Asian and your usual fair featured writers. Yes, it might be difficult but I think if you would open up the magazine to new audiences that are looking for literature in which young people of color can see themselves. Is it a lot of work? Yes it is, but I’m sure it would be well worth the effort.

Established writers like Carlos Cumpian, Aberlardo Lalo Delgado (see their articles) would be a good start. Oscar Mireles, has been
publishing poets in the Mid-west for a number of years and would also be a good contact; Angela de Hoyos in San Antonio, Lorna Dee Cervantes in Boulder, Colorado, along with the other names that Carlos refers to in his article, would also be good resources.

Recently I wrote a similar letter to another magazine and the same letter that I had sent to them was rudely sent back to me with three names written on it. I guess it was their way of telling me these were the Chicano writers that they knew or had published. The sad humorous point was I knew one of the names and knew that she was not Chicana!

Enclosed is a copy of a letter addressed to Borders Bookstores. Bookstores are part of this literary world where racism tries to hide its ugly head. It would be great if Poets & Writers could address some of these issues in the public forum not to be complaining but looking for solutions and for change. The outcome of this letter was their representative called to apologize. I assured him that I did not want an apology, what I was asking for was a change in their racist policies. I am also enclosing a copy of a poem which was written during my tenure in San Antonio and related to this issue addressed to Borders.

I would like to see the list of articles by and about Chicanos that you have published. I have taken the time to address this issue with you because I respect what you do and would really like to say, I am happy to renew my subscription
because Poets and Writers addresses some of these issues.


Trinidad S�nchez, Jr.

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