Tag Archives: houston

Leslie Contreras Schwartz Chosen as Houston’s Poet Laureate

Congrats to Leslie Contreras Schwartz! Here’s the press release from Mayor Sylvester Turner making the announcement:

Writer Leslie Contreras Schwartz has been selected as Houston’s fourth poet laureate, Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston Public Library Director Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson announce today.

Her two-year term begins now, as National Poetry Month comes to an end. Schwartz was selected through a competitive application and interview process by a panel of literary experts.

Mayor Turner made the final selection. The poet laureate receives a $20,000 honorarium for the two-year term, funded by the City of Houston Hotel Occupancy Tax dedicated to the arts.

Contreras Schwartz will work closely with the Houston Public Library and the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs to carry out her community outreach project focusing on outreach to people with mental illness and mental health workers. She will also conduct eight workshops in partnership with Houston Public Library and mentor the Houston Youth Poet Laureate.

“The appointment speaks to the great work that this poet has done and will do as an ambassador of the City though poetry,” Mayor Turner said. “Houston will be well represented by Leslie through workshops and outreach work in non-traditional communities.”

The Poet Laureate program celebrates Houston’s rich culture and diversity through the work of a poet who creates excitement about the written and spoken word as well as outreach activities, special programs, teaching and their individual works. The role of the Poet Laureate is to stimulate poetic impulse, foster appreciation of poetry in all its forms, and serve Houston residents and visitors with expressions of culture through words.

“The Houston Public Library congratulates Leslie Contreras Schwartz on becoming Houston’s fourth Poet Laureate and joins the mayor in recognizing her invaluable talent. Contreras Schwartz will bring her passion and extensive knowledge of poetry and writing to Houston’s communities,” said Lawson. “We are excited about working with her on a diverse spectrum of literacy programs that will instill the love of poetry and writing for children, teens and adults alike around the city.”

“As a native Houstonian whose family has deep roots in the city since the early 1900s, I am deeply honored to be named an ambassador for poetry in the city I love and call home,” said Leslie Contreras Schwartz. “I have dedicated my adult life to studying, reading, and writing poetry, and am excited to share this passion. My outreach plan will focus on using writing to improve mental health, particularly among non-traditional and underserved communities.”

She is a poetry editor at Four Way Review and works as a lecturer at the University of Houston. She is a graduate of The Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and earned a bachelor’s degree at Rice University.

Contreras Schwartz says her work examines the individual versus public bodies and documents experiences and narratives of those usually silenced, such as people with mental illness, sex workers, women who are trafficked, or children in custody.

Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in The Missouri Review, The Collagist, [PANK], Verse Daily, The Texas Review, Catapult, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. Her new collection of poems, Nightbloom & Cenote (St. Julian Press, May 2018), was a semi-finalist for the 2017 Tupelo Press Dorset Prize, judged by Ilya Kaminsky. In 2018, she was a featured poet for the Houston Poetry Fest. Her fiction will be included in Houston Noir, edited by Gwendolyn Zepeda (Akashic Press, May 2019).

Before ‘‘passing the pen’’ to Contreras Schwartz, the outgoing laureate, Deborah “D.E.E.P.” Mouton, is launching her community outreach project, a multi-video series of performance poetry celebrating neighborhoods of the City. These videos can be found on the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs Facebook & YouTube Pages and will be throughout the coming weeks. The first can be found: https://youtu.be/B-o76Pxz1gs

About the Houston Public Library
The Houston Public Library (HPL) operates 35 neighborhood libraries, four HPL Express Libraries, a Central Library, the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, The African American Library at the Gregory School, and the Parent Resource Library located in the Children’s Museum of Houston. With more than eight million visits per year in person and online, HPL is committed to excellent customer service and equitable access to information and programs by providing library customers with free use of a diverse collection of printed materials and electronic resources, Internet, laptop and computer use, and a variety of database and reference resources with live assistance online 24/7.

About the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs
The City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs develops policies and initiatives that expand access to arts and cultural programs in the community, attract visitors and leverage private investment. Learn more at http://www.houstontx.gov/culturalaffairs and follow us on Facebook & Instagram. Find fun stuff on Houston’s Cultural Events Calendar.

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4/24/2019: Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia To Host ITC Town Hall

 

OCT 4-5-6, 2018: FESTIVAL CHICANO HOUSTON

The 39th Annual Festival Chicano is upon us again and will be held October 4 – 6, 2018 at Miller Outdoor Theater.

As always, Daniel Bustamante and his crew will feature the best in La Onda Tejana, including Latin Breed, Gary Hobbs, Ruben Ramos and The Mexican Revolution, David Marez, Avizo featuring Hugo Guerrero and Oscar G, and the King of the Brown Sound (and Beto O’Rourke supporter) Little Joe y La Familia. Also featured will be Impozzible, Negami, and Stevie D. A lot of talent in a few days.

The event attracts over 5,000 Chicanos and others each night. What a time for, say, Democratic candidates and their minions to walk around wearing their campaign tees and be seen. I always wear my campaign tees.

Anyway, it’s free, it’s great music, and it’s nuestra cultura. Enjoy it before some orange baboon outlaws it. And then take your cultura to the polls in November.

Sunday 4/15 – Los TexManiacs at Discovery Green

Grammy-winning Los Texmaniacs are headlining the Discovery Green Birthday Bash this coming Sunday, April 15. The Bash starts at noon with Los Texmaniacs hitting the stage around 4:35pm.

Discovery Green is celebrating 10 years and those years have been filled with plenty of great and free family events. Here is the schedule:

The event schedule is as follows:
12–4 p.m.
Cultural performances by Ballet Folklorico, Aztec dance by Danza Quetzalli, Dance of Asian America, Brazilian Arts Foundation and more on the Anheuser-Busch Stage

12:15–12:30 p.m.
Drumline on the White Promenade

1 p.m.
Reading by Writers in the Schools BLOOMS on the Lindsey Waterside Landing

1–3 p.m.
Performance by Cirque la Vie on the Jones Lawn

4–6 p.m.
Performances by Los Texmaniacs on the Anheuser-Busch Stage

Los Texmaniacs are set to release their new album, Cruzando Borders, on May 11. I’m pretty sure some of the new stuff is on their set-list. Go check them out and enjoy some Tex-Mex Conjunto and Americana music.

Run-Offs, Victories, and Tear-Jerkers

I’ll just comment a little on some of the races that were on my radar.

CD29

Congrats to State Senator Sylvia Garcia on a decisive victory based on a disciplined campaign that surged from beginning to end. This, despite a big money newbie who came in from Beaumont to challenge her. Ultimately, all that big money guy did was take the oxygen out of the other challengers who were mostly ignored in the race. There are a couple in there with a lot of potential, so, they should keep active in the local scene and the Party. I wasn’t worried about the Senator as she had a pretty great team of campaign workers doing the GOTV.

SD6

With Senator Garcia’s victory, she will have an easier fall campaign since CD29 is a Dem seat. Eventually and some time after she wins CD29, the Senator will resign her SD6 position, and already State Reps Ana Hernandez and Carol Alvarado have announced their intentions to run for the seat. Of course, a special election date will not be set until that resignation and at the Governor’s leisure. Best guess:  May, 2019? Thankfully, neither Hernandez nor Alvarado will be required to resign and will serve during the next Lege session. So, stay tuned.

Rabeea Collier and Judicial Campaigns

Rabeea Collier, running for the 113th Civil District Court, achieved quite a victory with 73% of the vote, defeating an inexperienced, yet self-funded, lawyer. Rabeea will be among some great lawyers in the running to serve Harris County in various courts. Among the winners yesterday were Lauren Reeder, Cory Sepolio, Christine Weems, Barbara Stalder, David Fleischer, Raul Rodriguez, etc. We’ll have the long list soon.

My best wishes to Kathy Vossler, Fred Cook, Harold Landreneau, Juan Aguirre and Tracy Good. You all ran great races and are great lawyers whom I will always respect and support in your future campaigns.

 

Countywide Run-Offs

There is still voting to be done on May 22 as Democrats decide in several run-off races. For District Clerk, Marilyn Burgess, who came quite close to winning outright, will take on Rozzy Shorter. For County Clerk, it is Diane Trautman versus Gayle Young Mitchell. For County Treasurer, Cosme Garcia and Dylan Osbourne. And for At-Large Trustee of HCDE Richard Cantu and Josh Wallenstein. I’ve decided in three of the races, but I’ll need to be convinced about the race for treasurer.

By the way, my friend Nile Copeland (3rd place in the Treasurer’s race) had a good enough showing to be asked whom he is supporting in the run-off. Now that he can buy me tacos again without having to report them, I may just ask him.

The Commishes

Congrats to my long-time friend Adrian Garcia on a big win versus a few challengers. He’s the one candidate that can re-take Precinct 2 for the good guys. And what a showing by first-time candidate Penny Shaw in Precinct 4–75%. She earned every vote because she was everywhere, coordinated various events, and created relationships every step of the way. On to November!

Other Run-Off Races

I have all the love and respect for Jim Cargas and Dorina Papageorgiou for all they have done in CD7. Unfortunately, politics can be like kids with new toys at Christmas. Look at all the new candidates!!! Let’s open them up and see what they give us! And they gave plenty of ads, mailers, etc. So, it’ll be Moser vs Fletcher in the run-off. I’ll have to ask my sis whom she is supporting. And Nile Copeland, too!

In SD17, Fran Watson kept the race close in Fort Bend and Brazoria Counties to make it into a run-off with Rita Lucido. Good luck to Fran!

THE GOV

What a showing by former Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez with 42% against all those other politically inexperienced candidates. I was impressed with some great showings in South Texas, plus Dallas, Denton, Tarrant, El Paso, and Travis. She shouldn’t ignore Harris County, though, and do everything to cut into her opponent’s local margin. Oh, yeah, I still support Lupe Valdez for Governor.

The End of the Ballot

I heard a lot of chatter from a few political folks who didn’t like the end of the ballot survey questions–that’s all they are, a survey. Hell, I like them. And, apparently, so do the voters. While some of our candidate races had 15 to 20% undervotes, the ballot questions had less than 6% undervoting. I don’t mind if Dem voters talk to us since most of them won’t go to the county and district conventions to form the platform. And if we get some surprise answers we don’t want to hear, well, that just means the Party needs to work harder to ensure we stay true to our values and issues.

See you at the races!

It’s Election 2017 Season! [Alief ISD Edition]

Well, it’s that time again–2017’s election season. Believe it or not, you have lots to vote on, whether it is amendments to the Texas Constitution, local school and college elections, and even some big bonds. This first post on the 2017 elections, I’ll talk about Alief ISD. One thing is for sure, one has to love the diversity on the ballot in all the races.

ALIEF ISD

With various district races for Houston ISD school board leading the local excitement, I’m lucky to live in Alief ISD. There’s four races in that one and I get to vote in everyone of them since we don’t have single member districts. I’m still trying to get to know the candidates on the ballot since they rarely attempt to get to know us inside of the beltway (I’m only a block away from Houston ISD).

Position 4 is a race to fill a vacancy left by the untimely passing of Dedre Jefferson. Darlene Breaux and Jesus Zamora are in the running.

Position 5 has G. “John” Nguyen and Donald Murphy Guillory in a race to replace Nhi T. Ho.

Position 6 has Jennifer Key and Anton Dowls in a race to replace Sarah Winkler.

And Position 7 has Soren Velarde, Natasha Butler, and Janet Spurlock in a race to replace Tiffany Thomas.

I’ll be studying the candidates more, although by the looks of some who are DACA supporters or progressive-minded on other issues, some may be easier to choose than others.

If you’re an ALIEF ISD voter, click on the links for each candidate, get to know them, and contact them with questions. They answer to you!

Voter registration ends on October 10. Early voting is October 23 thru November 3, so, click on the link to find your nearest early voting center. Election Day is November 7, so you can find your location and print your ballot at this site.

 

 

Save The Date: 10/16/17 – Rev. Barry Lynn in Houston

 
Join the Houston Chapter
of
 
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
 
As We Honor the 25 Years of Leadership
of
  The Reverend Barry W. Lynn
 Ordained Minister, Lawyer, Author
 
And Celebrate the 
70th anniversary of Americans United
 
 
“Americans United–
Past, Present and Future”
 
Monday, October 16, 2017
7:30 p.m. 
Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church
 
Free and open to the public       Plenty of free parking

Reception following program

38th Annual Festival Chicano Houston – Miller Outdoor Theatre

Houston’s best live music and cultural festival is back for it’s 38th year. Festival Chicano will be held October 5-6-7, 2017 at Miller Outdoor Theatre. Here’s your chance  to listen to the best music en La Onda Chicana, including Mazz, Jaime y Los Chamacos, Little Joe y La Familia, Shelly Lares, Street People, AB Quintanilla, La Fiebre, Sandy G Y Los Gavilanes, and Isabel Marie. Come join 5,000 or so of your closest friends each night.

Congrats and a big Gracias to Daniel Bustamante, the event founder and organizer for keeping nuestra cultura alive and at the forefront of the local music scene.

Local TX House Delegation Asks Harris Co to Join SB4 Lawsuit

A group of Houston Texas House members has penned a letter to the Harris County Commissioner’s Court requesting they join the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of SB4–the “Show Me Your Papers” racial profiling law signed by Greg Abbott.

Texas House members include:  Alma Allen, Carol Alvarado, Garnet Coleman, Harold Dutton, Jessica Farrar, Ana Hernandez, Jarvis Johnson, Mary Ann Perez, Ron Reynolds, Shawn Thierry, Senfronia Thompson, Hubert Vo, Armando Walle, and Gene Wu.

Pointing to various constitutional flaws in the law, the group also made a case for the lawsuit citing the law’s threat to public safety:

With the fifth largest foreign born population in the country, Harris County is especially at risk. All people in the community must feel safe and free to report crime and call law enforcement when necessary, without the fear of the same law enforcement asking for their papers. The provisions of SB4 will diminish trust and chill the reporting of crime, making our county less safe.

The letter further states the constitutional liability the county could face for unlawfully detaining individuals without warrant or probably cause.

Already, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, and the tiny town of El Cenizo, along with Bexar, El Paso, and Maverick counties have joined the lawsuit. Efforts have increased to add more parties to the lawsuit, including Brownsville, Pasadena, and other Texas communities.

For the latest on the lawsuit, head over to MALDEF’s twitter feed for the latest arguments being made by the good guys and the bad guys at the federal court hearing in San Antonio.

Thanks to the office of State Representative Armando Walle for keeping us informed and for their work on these efforts. [copy of letter below]

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