There were questions going into the event. Would just two women presenters cover the spectrum of talent that is out there in the Rio Grande Valley? Normally there are a dozen or so. This year the organizers went deep into the work of two very talented women and I think the consensus is that Women’s Voices Night at the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center in San Benito was a rousing and resounding success.
Amalia Ortiz has been a major poet in slam poetry, performance poetry and Chicano poetry for some years now. She put some of what are now her classic works together in a one woman play. The packed house at the Narciso Martinez was exposed to Chicano Theater of a caliber not often seen in the Valley. ‘Big Red, Catcalls, and her bus poems taken from her personal experiences in San Antonio, took us all to another world not so different from this one, but different enough.
Brenda Nettles-Riojas took her poems from her book “La Primera Voz Que Oi, and turned them into a one act play, complete with props and costume changes. Being raised between two cultures with a mother from Mexico and a Caucasian-American father made for an interesting upbringing. With the death of her mother Brenda left behind her Mexican legacy only to find that she had left some of her heart behind with it. Most of her poetry was performed in Spanish. Her poetry is of arguably the best type…Simple and direct, but so honest and heartfelt it makes its own rhythm and music; very free of artifice.
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