Rebeldes: A Proyecto Latina Anthology

Cover art by Diana Solis, "Mama Bird," hand-cut paper, 2009

Cover art by Diana Solis, “Mama Bird,” hand-cut paper, 2009

!!Book Launch Reception!!

Rebeldes: A Proyecto Latina Anthology
We are thrilled to invite you to join us in a toast as we celebrate the birth of the Proyecto Latina Anthology! In the tradition of our reading series, we will have a few featured writers and the Chisme Box will also make an appearance.

Monday, August 12th – 6:30PM to 9:30PM
@ Meztli Gallery & Cultural Organization
2005 South Blue Island
Chicago, Illinois, 60608
Street parking available / CTA – #60 Blue Island bus

The anthology spotlights the creative spirit and diversity of writing that is the Proyecto Latina community. At this time, it is the only book being published in the Chicago focusing on the writings and artwork of 26 Latinas.

Special thanks to all of our Madrinas y Padrinos for supporting the literary arts and to Paloma Martinez-Cruz for her creative leadership in making this dream a reality.

Please spread the word about this event by sharing via social media. We’d greatly appreciate it.

The anthology will be sold day of the event. Cash only.

More info. on how to purchase the book online TBA.

Ten Writing Tips In Celebration of The Flower Sun

This week I was recalling the recent discovery of a Mayan Warrior Queen in Guatemala named Lady Ka’bel.  I am fascinated that thousands of years later she has emerged to tell her story through Mayan hieroglyphics and sculpture.

During her time, she was the supreme ruler of the region with more power than even her hubby. I wanted to share that nugget of Pre-Columbian history to encourage you to reign supreme over your own creativity. On Friday, December 21 we close out the Mayan era of 13 Bak’tun. I’m excited for us collectively and individually to shift into a new era of creativity and transformation because we are mujeres de tinta y papel amate; urban scribes tapping into our higher selves and telling stories in primera voz.

According to poet Francisco X. Alarcon the “Nahuatl calendar corresponds to the date “Four Flower” (Nahui Xochitl). In the Nahuatl tradition this new era is identified as the “Flower Sun” (Xochitonatiuh).” We all have stories to tell and it’s just a matter of digging deep and listening to our inner writing warrior queen to get our stories on the page. As we enter this new cycle, I’m looking forward to reading and hearing your stories in whatever medium they appear. Lastly, below are some quick tips to kick start your writing endeavors. Feliz Flower Sun!

Ten tips in celebration of the Flower Sun:

  • Prioritize your writing or risk becoming your own creative apocalypse
  • Writer’s block? Shake it off and keep writing.
  • Get out of your own way and own your story
  • Take responsibility for your writing life
  • Participate in writing meet ups or create your own
  • Take creative risk and get out of your comfort zone
  • Read things that nurture your creative spirit
  • Support a reading series or start your own reading series
  • Encourage other writers to write
  • Ask yourself, “How am I walking in this world as a writer?”

Stay tuned for Proyecto Latina writing meet ups in the New Year.






Telling Stories Through The Vagina Monologues

“To say women’s stories out loud solidifies your commitment to advocate for women.” – Norma Seledon, Director of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues

Ensemble of the Vagina Monologues

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Norma Seledon, Director of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues presented by Mujeres Latinas en Acción. Norma started off as one of the actors in the show and then moved on to direct it. What struck me about the monologues was when she mentioned Mujeres Latinas en Acción is the only organization in the city presenting The Vagina Monologues in Spanish.

Norma has been working with a group of women on the monologues and guiding them through the rehearsal process. The ensemble includes friends, sisters, mothers and daughters from the community. “The Vagina Monologues are a transformational experience for the audience but especially the women that perform the monologues.

“We get few women that have any acting experience and most of the women are fearful of doing anything on stage but something inside them brings them and they are excited to be there.” While the audience that comes to see the show is primarily women there are men who come to the show also to learn and try to understand these issue because, “you can’t do this type of advocacy without male participation,” says Norma.

The Vagina Monologues are powerful stories that connect and create conversation between the women in the audience and those performing the monologues. According to Norma, “I think women already have a notion that they have something say but I think many don’t realize is that they also have something to learn about themselves because when you personalize these issues it kind of becomes a part of you especially when you act things out to say out loud women’s stories is transformational and solidifies your commitment to advocate for women.

Norma is no stranger to working with women. She is a former domestic violence counselor and also developed a leadership program at Mujeres Latinas en Acción and a recipient of a Vagina Warrior award for her work with women. Professionally, Norma has moved away from directly working with women but she still does a lot of volunteer work with women in the community. When asked why she does the work she does with women Norma says, “It’s always gratifying and a privilege to witness women’s transformations whether they are participating in a leadership program or rehearsing for The Vagina Monologues.

The Vagina Monologues will be performed this Thursday, April 26, In Spanish and Friday, April 27th in English. For more information Mujeres Latinas en Accion The Vagina Monologues 773.890.7656

Ensemble in photo includes:  Front row (L to R):  Samantha Caballero, Queli Tellez, Madelynn Martinez Second Row (L to R): Vanessa Robledo, Rocio Robledo, Selene Gonzalez, Eva Tellez, Liz Villarreal Back Row (L to R):  Norma Seledon, Nancy Martinez, Alheli Herrera, Kendy OlaguezNot pictured:  Maria Martinez

Wordless Wednesday

February Proyecto Latina Reading Series

Do you or someone you know have diabetes? This disease is on the rise in the Latina community and we wanted to provide a platform to spotlight this issue. When the arts and diabetes awareness collide you get something fabulous! Join us for a lively presentation and conversation with diabetes activist Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez.  We encourage you to bring any diabetes themed stories, poems, essays and share your story during the open mic or simply come to connect and learn from Christina’s inspiring story of how she combats diabetes.

Proyecto Latino Reading Series – Free

Monday, February 20, 7PM to 9PM

@Cobalt Studio

1950 West 21st Street – Storefront

Chicago, IL 60608

CTA: Damen Pink Line Stop / #50 Damen Bus

Arrive early to sign up for the open mic and remember the Chisme Box is ready to be fed

Christina Elizabeth Rodriguez is the editorial director at Extra Bilingual Newspaper and has been living with Type 1 diabetes for the past 20 years of her life. Developing a need to educate her peers and those around her about the long-lasting and lethal effects of unhealthy living especially within the Latino community, Christina started blogging for ChicagoNOW on her blog titled Check Yo’ Self, which delves into the complications, nutritional insight, stresses and successes of living with diabetes. In addition, she is also the Communications and Social Media committee chair for the American Diabetes Association Young Professional’s Board. Christina has been a featured guest on Poco A Poco radio as a diabetes activist, is a monthly guest blogger for Latinos in Social Media’s Salud Saturdays and also talks to high school health classes when asked. To get more of her musings and diabetes insights, follow her on Twitter at @kiki416 and @kikisbetes.

Special thanks to Adriana Baltazar, Creative Director of Cobalt Studio and our venue sponsor:


Year-end reivew: Who were the creative risk takers?

A year ago Diana Pando provided a year-end review and five tips for the creative tool box–exercises to tone our artistic muscle.  After all, being a productive and dynamic artist takes the same attention and discipline an athlete might dedicate to a sport. A  look at the 2011 roster of featured artists at our Proyecto Latina Reading Series, and the work they presented is proof of the time and dedication that this group of women invest in their art.  Month after month, from comedic to somber each featured artist presented her work with a lot of heart and passion.  I had the privilege to witness many moments of courage and vulnerability as these women took creative risks on the Proyecto Latina stage.

What follows is a quick snapshot of our third Mondays in 2011:

  • January: Sandra Delgado shared a lyrical monologue that weaved family history and of the art of perfume making.
  • February: Xenia Ruiz shared excerpts from her novel, a memoir and her most recent manuscript.
  • March: Awilda Lyse Gonzalez shared short stories and poems on identity, her experience as a single mom,  and issues that effect women and our communities.
  • April: For National Poetry Month we featured Yolanda Nieves who read from her book The Spoken Body.
  • May: Kansas City writer Xanath Carranza presented poetry and narratives in English, Spanish and Nahuatl.  We also had work on display from visual artist Maria Esther Leon.  
  • June: Gwen La Roka  infused us with plenty of  laughter with her comedy. 
  • July: Claudia Martinez brought more humor with her improv and comedy.
  • August: Natalie Marlena Goodnow visiting from Austin, Texas presented her solo play Mud Offerings
  • September: Jazmin Corona exhibited photography and read a memoir piece. 
  • October: Stephanie Manriquez delivered a multi-media presentation on the challenges that drive her to create.
  • November: A tad bitter-sweet year-end when our feature Kelly Norman Ellis cancelled because she was sick and unable to present but that didn’t keep us from selecting a few poems from her book to share.

After the November Proyecto Latina Reading Series our team went out for celebratory drinks to toast to another successful year of creating literary and artistic programs in Chicago’s Southside communities of Little Village, Pilsen and Bridgeport.  We got down to business and on a cocktail napkin drafted a wish-list of 2012 calendar of features.

As I write this we are extending invitationsas soon as we have logistics confirmed we will be sharing our calendar.  As always, if you have someone you think deserves the spotlight drop us a line:

See you in 2012! Remember to save the date for the next Proyecto Latina,  01/16/12 @ 7 p.m. Details coming soon.