Raina J. León, PhD is Black, Afro-Boricua, and from Philadelphia (Lenni Lenape ancestral lands). She is a mother, daughter, sister, madrina, comadre, partner, poet, writer, and teacher educator. She believes in collective action and community work, the profound power of holding space for the telling of our stories, and the liberatory practice of humanizing education. She seeks out communities of care and craft and is a member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective, Cave Canem, CantoMundo, Macondo. She is the author of black god mother this body, Canticle of Idols, Boogeyman Dawn, sombra : (dis)locate, and the chapbooks, profeta without refuge and Areyto to Atabey: Essays on the Mother(ing) Self. She publishes across forms in visual art, poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and scholarly work. She has received fellowships and residencies with the Obsidian Foundation, Community of Writers, Montana Artists Refuge, Macdowell, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Annamaghkerrig, Ireland and Ragdale, among others. She is a founding editor of The Acentos Review, an online quarterly, international journal devoted to the promotion and publication of Latinx arts. She supports poets and writers at the Stonecoast MFA at the University of Southern Maine. She is additionally a digital archivist, emerging visual artist, writing coach, and curriculum developer.
Natasha Carrizosa is a vessel of the word – poet, writer, speaker, and creative writing teacher. Her grounding work is deeply-rooted in her BIPOC living experiences, mindfulness, and truths.
In episode 3 of season 3 of Ink Well hosts Jasminne and Lupe Mendez chat with Houston author Addie Tsai about her YA novel Dear Twin.
teaches courses in literature, creative writing, dance, and humanities at Houston Community College. She collaborated with Dominic Walsh Dance Theater on Victor Frankenstein
and Camille Claudel
, among others. Addie holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and a PhD in Dance from Texas Woman’s University. Her writing has been published in Banango Street
, The Offing
, The Collagist
, The Feminist Wire
, Nat. Brut.
, and elsewhere. She is the Nonfiction Editor at The Grief Diaries,
Associate Fiction Editor at Anomaly, and
Senior Associate Editor in Poetry at The Flexible Persona
. She is the author of the queer Asian young adult novel Dear Twin
Season 3, Episode 2: Raquel Salas Rivera
In episode 2 of season 3 of Ink Well hosts Jasminne and Lupe Mendez chat with Philadelphia Poet Laureate Raquel Salas Rivera about their latest book, while they sleep: under the bed is another country and Hurricane Maria.
Raquel Salas Rivera (Mayagüez, 1985) is a Puerto Rican poet, translator, and literary critic. In 2018, they were named the Poet Laureate of Philadelphia for a two-year term. The following year they became the inaugural recipient of the Laureate Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets and won the New Voices Award from Puerto Rico’s Festival de la Palabra. Their third book, lo terciario/the tertiary (2nd ed., Noemi Press, 2019), was on the 2018 National Book Award Longlist and won the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry. Their fifth book, x/ex/exis: poemas para la nación/ poems for the nation was the first recipient of the Ambroggio Prize (Editorial Bilingüe/Bilingual Press, 2020). Their latest book is while they sleep: under the bed is another country.
Season 3, Episode 1: Leslie Contreras Schwartz
In episode 1 of season 3 of Ink Well hosts Jasminne and Lupe Mendez chat with Houston Poet Laureate Leslie Contreras Schwartz about her work in the community and forthcoming collection Who Speaks for Us Here.
Leslie Contreras Schwartz is the fourth Houston Poet Laureate, serving from 2019-2021, and a native Houstonian. She is a multi-genre writer whose third collection of poems, Who Speaks for Us Here, is scheduled for spring 2020 publication with Skull + Wind Press. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcomin in Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, Anomaly, The Missouri Review, The Collagist, Iowa Review, Verse Daily, and the anthology Xincanx: 21 Mexican American Writers of the 21st Century edited by ire’ne lara silva, among others. She is also the author of Nightbloom & Cenote and Fuego (St. Julian Press, 2018 and 2016). She is a graduate of The Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and earned a bachelor’s at Rice University.
Season 2, Episode 8: Noel Quiñones
In episode 8 of season 2 of Ink Well hosts Jasminne and Lupe Mendez chat with poet, actor, and community organizer Noel Quiñones about his work on the page and in the community.
Noel Quiñones is a Puerto Rican poet, actor, community organizer, and performance artist born and raised in the Bronx. As a writer, he’s received fellowships from Poets House, the Poetry Foundation, CantoMundo, Candor Arts, and SAFTA (Sundress Academy for the Arts). His work has been published in Kweli Journal, Rattle, Hot Metal Bridge, and the Latin American Review. As a performer, he’s featured at Lincoln Center, Harvard University, BAM, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, and the Honolulu Museum of Art to name a few. His performances have been showcased on Huffington Post, Tidal Music, Vibe, Latina Magazine, Medium, Remezcla, Univision, and elsewhere. Founder of Project X, a Bronx-based arts organization, and co-organizer of #PoetsforPuertoRico, Quiñones was recently named one of New York State’s “40 Under 40 Rising Latino Stars” by The Hispanic Coalition and as a 2018 Intercultural Leadership Institute Fellow. Follow him at link www.noelpquinones.com. Photo credited to Jeremy Rios.
Season 2, Episode 7: Carmen Giménez Smith
In episode 7 of season 2 of Ink Well host Jasminne and Lupe Mendez chat with poet Carmen Giménez Smith about her poetry collection Cruel Futures while she was in Houston for the 2018/2019 Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series.
Carmen Giménez Smith is the author of six poetry collections, including Milk and Filth, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, which The Nation calls “a sharp, feminist manifesto by way of poetry collection.” She received the Juniper Prize for Poetry for Goodbye, Flicker, and her latest book Cruel Futures is described by Ross Gay as “one of those rare books, rare pieces of art, that manages to be extremely intimate, vulnerable and close while also doing a kind of searing cultural critique.” Her memoir Bring Down the Little Birds, winner of an American Book Award, was praised by the Austin-American Statesman “as innovative in form as it is honest in emotion… outrageously smart…. Bring Down the Little Birds seems to tip motherhood on its side to expose its brutal-though-beautiful underbelly.” Coeditor of Angels of the Americlypse: New Latin@ Writing and poetry coeditor of The Nation, she serves as the publisher of Noemi Press and co-director of CantoMundo.
Season 2, Episode 6: Lupe Mendez
In episode 6 of season 2 of Ink Well host Jasminne and guest host Daniel Peña chat with Lupe Mendez about his new poetry collection Why I Am Like Tequila.
Originally from Galveston, TX, Lupe Mendez is a writer, educator, and activist as well as the founder of Tintero Projects and works with emerging Latinx writers and other writers of color within the Texas Gulf Coast region. Lupe co-hosts Ink Well, a collaborative podcast with Inprint that focuses on regional, national, and international Latinx writers and other writers of color. Mendez is a CantoMundo Fellow, a Macondo Fellow, an Emerging Poet Incubator Fellow, and currently the Houston Literary Outreach Coordinator for Poets & Writers. He is an internationally published writer, in book and other online formats, including prose work in Latino Rebels, Houston Free Press, the Kenyon Review, and Norton’s – Sudden Fiction Latino: Short-Short Stories From The United States and Latin America, Flash, and poetry that appears in The Bayou Review, Huizache, Luna Luna Magazine, Pilgrimage, The Texas Review, Bordersenses, HeART Journal Online, Glass Poetry Journal, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Voluable and Gulf Coast Journal, among others. Why I Am Like Tequila is his first full-length poetry collection.
Season 2, Episode 5: Ching-In Chen
In episode 5 of season 2 of Ink Well hosts Jasminne and Lupe Mendez chat with poet Ching-In Chen about being a poet and their latest work.
Ching–In Chen is the author of The Heart’s Traffic (Arktoi/Red Hen Press, 2009) and recombinant (Kelsey Street Press, 2017; winner of the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry). Chen is also the co-editor of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities (South End Press, 2011; AK Press 2016) and Here Is a Pen: an Anthology of West Coast Kundiman Poets (Achiote Press, 2009). They have received fellowships from Kundiman, Lambda, Watering Hole, Can Serrat and Imagining America and are a part of Macondo and Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation writing communities. Their work has appeared in The Best American Experimental Writing, The &NOW Awards 3: The Best Innovative Writing, and Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics. A community organizer, they have worked in the Asian American communities of San Francisco, Oakland, Riverside, Milwaukee and Boston. A poetry editor of the Texas Review, they currently teach creative writing at Sam Houston State University. In 2018, they co-organized Failure to Con/Form, a series of performances in Houston, Texas featuring trans, genderqueer, intersex and gender-non-conforming writers, performers and visual artists in response to shared stories & conversations with Houston-area trans & gender-non-conforming folx. For more information, visit www.chinginchen.com.
Season 2, Episode 4: Fady Joudah
In episode 4 of season 2 of Ink Well, hosts Jasminne and Lupe Mendez chat with poet, translator, and physician Fady Joudah.
Fady Joudah’s most recent poetry collection Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance is hailed as “exceptional” by Publishers Weekly, and Mary Szybist writes, “Few books of American poetry seem to me as essential as this one…. Joudah’s gifts for articulating the intersections of bewilderment, tenderness, rage, and grief are fully alive here. These poems blaze into the visionary.” Houston-based Palestinian American poet and physician, his other books include The Earth in the Attic, winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition; Alight; and Textu, a collection of 160-character poems written on a smartphone’s text message screen. Also an award-winning translator, he is a recipient of the Banipal Prize and a finalist for the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation for The Butterfly’s Burden by Mahmoud Darwish; winner of the PEN USA Award for If I Were Another, also by Darwish; and winner of the Griffin International Poetry Prize for Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me by Ghassan Zaqtan.
Season 2, Episode 3: Cristina Rivera Garza
In episode 3 of season 2 of Ink Well, hosts Jasminne and Lupe chat with Dr. Cristina Rivera Garza about her novel The Taiga Syndrome.
Dr. Cristina Rivera Garzais the award-winning author of six novels, including her latest The Tiaga Syndrome, three collections of short stories; five collections of poetry and three non-fiction books. Originally written in Spanish, these works have been translated into multiple languages, including English, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Korean. The recipient of the Roger Caillois Award for Latin American Literature (Paris, 2013); as well as the Anna Seghers (Berlin, 2005), she is the only author who has won the International Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize twice, in 2001 for her novel Nadie me verá llorar (translated into English by Andrew Hurley as No One Will See Me Cry ) and again in 2009 for her novel La muerte me da. She has translated, from English into Spanish, Notes on Conceptualisms by Vanessa Place and Robet Fitterman; and, from Spanish into English, “Nine Mexican Poets edited by Cristina Rivera Garza,” in New American Writing 31. She runs the PhD program in Spanish Creative Writing at the University of Houston.
Season 2, Episode 2: Natalia Sylvester
In episode 2 of season 2 of Ink Well, hosts Jasminne and Lupe chat with Natalia Sylvester about her novel Everyone Knows You Go Home.
Born in Lima, Peru, Natalia Sylvester came to the US at age four and grew up in Florida and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. She earned her BA in creative writing from the University of Miami, is a faculty member of the low-residency MFA program at Regis University, and works as a freelance writer in Austin. Natalia’s work has appeared in Bustle, Catapult, Electric Literature, The Austin American-Statesman and McSweeney’s Publishing. Her first novel, Chasing the Sun, was named the Best Debut Book of 2014 by Latinidad. Her latest novel, Everyone Knows You Go Home, won an International Latino Book Award and has been named one of the Best Books of 2018 by Real Simple magazine. The Adroit Journal describes it as “a beautiful touchstone for the ways in which narratives surrounding migration and familial bonds sometimes need to be wrenched from the mouths of pundits and reporters to return them to the world of flesh and blood, to the daily lives of the people living these stories.” Learn more about Natalia’s work at nataliasylvester.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Season 2, Episode 1: Jonathan Mendoza
In the first episode of season 2 of Ink Well, hosts Jasminne and Lupe chat with Jewish and Mexican American poet Jonathan Mendoza.
Jonathan Mendoza is a Boston-bred, Jewish and Mexican-American poet, musician, youth social justice educator, community organizer and activist. He is a National Poetry Slam champion with the House Slam of Boston, Massachusetts, a three-time award winner at the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational, the 2018 winner of the Sonia Sanchez-Langston Hughes Poetry Contest, and a finalist for Button Poetry’s 2018 chapbook contest. Jonathan currently organizes in Chicago around police brutality, migrant rights, and gentrification as a Midwest Academy fellow. He is a proud anxious Virgo, Greek yogurt enthusiast, and devout believer in the power of young people to shape and transform this world for the better. To learn more about his work, visit MendozaPoetry.com.
Season 1, Episode 9: Rigoberto González
In episode 9 of Ink Well, the final episode of season 1, hosts Jasminne and Lupe Mendez chat with poet and author Rigoberto González. He was in Houston as part of the 2017/2018 Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series in April.
Rigoberto González is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. About Unpeopled Eden—his most recent poetry collection, which won the Lambda Literary Award and the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets—Booklist says, “González writes with unrelenting honesty, composing long poems of successive septets, with an eye for vivid, brutal imagery…. With what may be his most ambitious collection yet, González reaffirms his role as a preeminent voice in Chicano poetics.” His poetry collection So Often the Pitcher Goes to Water Until It Breaks was a winner of the National Poetry Series, and his collection Other Fugitives and Other Strangers won San Francisco State University’s Poetry Center Book Award. González received the American Book Award for his memoir Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa. His memoir What Drowns the Flowers in Your Mouth: A Memoir of Brotherhood came out this past March. His major works of fiction include the novel Crossing Vines and the story collection Men Without Bliss, as well as two children’s books. He writes a monthly column for NBC-Latino online, is a contributing editor for Poets & Writers Magazine, and serves as critic-at-large for the Los Angeles Times.
Season 1, Episode 8: Samanta Schweblin
In episode 8 of Ink Well, hosts Jasminne and Lupe Mendez chat with 2017 International Man Booker finalist Samanta Schweblin. She was in Houston as part of the 2017/2018 Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series. A majority of this episode is in Spanish./En episodio 8 de Ink Well, anfitriones Jasminne y Lupe Mendez charlan con Samantha Schweblein, una finalista para el premio Internacional Man Booker. Sra. Booker estaba presente en Houston para participar en la serie literaria Margarett Root Brown de Inprint. La Smayoría de este episodio es conversación en español.
“Samanta Schweblin is one of the most promising voices in modern literature,” according to Mario Vargas Llosa. Fever Dream, her first novel and the first of her books to be translated into English from Spanish, was a finalist for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize. Kirkus, in a starred review, calls it “a taut, exquisite page-turner…. In a literary thriller of the highest order, Schweblin teases out the underlying anxieties of being vulnerable and loving vulnerable creatures and of being an inhabitant of a planet with an increasingly uncertain future.” The New Yorker says “the book feels as if it belongs to a new literary genre altogether.” She is also the author of three story collections that have won numerous awards, including the prestigious Juan Rulfo Story Prize, and was named to Granta’s list of best writers in Spanish under 35. Her story collection Pájaros en la Boca (Mouthful of Birds), for which she received the Casa de las Américas Prize, will come out in English in 2018. Born in Argentina, she now lives in Germany.
Season 1, Episode 7: Sheila Maldonado
In episode 7 of Ink Well, hosts Jasminne and Lupe chat with New York based poet Sheila Maldonado.
Sheila Maldonado is the author of one-bedroom solo, her debut poetry collection. Her 2nd publication, that’s what you get, is forthcoming from Brooklyn Arts Press. Her poems have appeared in Gulf Coast, Ping Pong, Rattapallax, and Callaloo, and online at Luna Luna, Hyperallergic, and Aster(ix) Journal. They have been anthologized in Brooklyn Poets Anthology, The Wandering Song: Central American Writing in the United States, and Me No Habla with Acento: Contemporary Latino Poetry.
She is a CantoMundo Fellow and a Creative Capital awardee as part of desveladas, a visual writing collective. She has served as an artist-in-residence on Governors Island, New York for the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and a Cultural Envoy to Honduras for the U.S. State Department. She grew up in Coney Island, New York, across the street from the Atlantic Ocean. Her family hails from Honduras.
Season 1, Episode 6: Jasminne Mendez
In episode 6 of Ink Well, host Jasminne Mendez gets the table turned on her as she is interviewed by host and husband Lupe Mendez plus guest host and Houston writer Icess Fernandez about Jasminne’s new book Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays and Poems.
Jasminne Mendez, an Afro-Latina who loves cupcakes, wine, and her husband Lupe, received her BA in English Literature and her MEd in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. Mendez has had poetry and essays published by or forthcoming in The Acentos Review, Crab Creek Review, Texas Review, La Galeria,Label Me Latino/a, Gulf Coast, and others. Her first multi-genre memoir Island of Dreams (Floricanto Press, 2013) was awarded Best Young Adult Latino Focused Book by the International Latino Book Awards in 2015. Her second book, Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays & Poems was released by Arte Público Press in April 2018. She is a 2016 VONA Alumni, a Macondo Fellow, a 2017 Canto Mundo Fellow, and an MFA candidate in the creative writing program at the Rainier Writer’s Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University.
Season 1, Episode 5: Tony Diaz
In episode 5 of Ink Well, Jasminne and Lupe chat with Houston writer, activist, and professor Tony Diaz.
Writer, activist, and professor Tony Diaz, El Librotraficante, was the first Chicano to earn a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Communications from De Paul University in Chicago. Diaz is currently a professor of Mexican American Literature and Rhetorical Analysis in Houston, Texas. He is also a political analyst on “What’s Your Point” which airs on Fox 26 Houston and hosts the weekly bilingual radio program Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say on KPFT 90.1 FM Houston.
His essays have appeared in the Houston Chronicle, The Texas Observer, CNN.com, the Los Angeles Times, and The Huffington Post Latino Voices, among other publications. He is author of the novel The Aztec Love God and is included in Hecho En Tejas: The Anthology of Texas Mexican Writers. He recently launched the column “The Cultural Accelerator”. He is the lead writer and editor for the textbook The Mexican American Studies Toolkit. He also is an educational consultant for school districts implementing innovative curriculum. Diaz made national and international news when he led the Librotraficantes in defying Arizona’s ban of Mexican American Studies.
Season 1, Episode 4: Robin Davidson
In episode 4 of Ink Well, Jasminne and Lupe chat with poet Robin Davidson about Houston’s Favorite Poems Anthology and more.
Robin Davidson, a resident of Houston for more than 50 years, was named Houston’s second Poet Laureate by Mayor Annise Parker in 2015 and served through April 2017 under the leadership of Mayor Sylvester Turner. She is a graduate of the University of Houston Creative Writing Program and is the author of two poem chapbooks, Kneeling in the Dojo and City that Ripens on the Tree of the World, and the collection Luminous Other, as well as co-translator with Ewa Elżbieta Nowakowska of The New Century: Poems from the Polish of Ewa Lipska. Most recently she has served as editor for Houston’s Favorite Poems, an anthology of best loved poems contributed by those living in Greater Houston. She teaches literature and creative writing as professor of English for the University of Houston-Downtown.
Season 1, Episode 3: Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton
In episode 3 of Ink Well, Jasminne and Lupe sit down with poet Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton
Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton is a mother, wife, educator, and the current Poet Laureate of Houston, Texas. This seven-time National Poetry Slam Competitor and Head Coach of the Houston VIP Poetry Slam Team has been ranked the #2 Best Female Poet in the World. Her work has appeared in Houston Noir, The Houston Chronicle, and on such platforms as BBC, ABC, Blavity, and Upworthy.
Season 1, Episode 2: Daniel Peña
In episode 2 of Ink Well, Jasminne and Lupe chat with Daniel Peña about his new novel BANG.
Daniel Peña is a Pushcart Prize-winning writer and Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the University of Houston-Downtown. His debut novel BANG, published by Arte Público Press, is described by NBC Latino as “such a timely novel that offers devastating insights into how communities adapt to severe shifts in culture and society.” Publishers Weekly says, “Peña examines the symbiosis of the United States and Mexico and makes painfully clear the negative effects of international trade legal and illegal. This is a notable and compassionate novel.” Formerly based out of the UNAM in Mexico City, he worked as a writer, blogger, book reviewer and journalist. His fiction has appeared in Ploughshares, The Rumpus, the Kenyon Review Online, Callaloo, Huizache and elsewhere. He’s currently a regular contributor to the Guardian and the Ploughshares blog. He is a Fulbright-Garcia Robles Scholar and a graduate of Cornell University.
Season 1, Episode 1: Analicia Sotelo
For the inaugural episode of Ink Well, Jasminne and Lupe chat with poet Analicia Sotelo.
Analicia Sotelo is the author of Virgin, the inaugural winner of the Jake Adam York Prize, selected by Ross Gay, forthcoming in February 2018. Bustle says, “Virgin introduces readers to a young, Mexican-American feminist narrator who is sarcastic and unafraid, curious and self-discovering, and interested in everything from unrequited love and heartbreak to un-romanticized sex and the historically fraught terrain of virginity, and so much more.” Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, praises the book: “Sotelo explores the power of mythologizing personal history in her striking debut…and from the start [she] cultivates intimacy through moments of vulnerability…With humanity and raw honesty, Sotelo finds fresh ways to approach romance, family, and more.”
Analicia is also the author of the chapbook Nonstop Godhead, selected by Rigoberto González for the 2016 Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship 30 and Under, the 2016 DISQUIET International Literary Prize winner in poetry, and her poem “I’m Trying to Write a Poem About a Virgin and It’s Awful” was selected for Best New Poets 2015 by Tracy K. Smith. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The New Yorker, Boston Review, Kenyon Review, New England Review, The Iowa Review, and The Antioch Review. Analicia holds a BA in English literature from Trinity University and an MFA in poetry from the University of Houston, and currently serves as Director of Communications and Development for the nonprofit Writers in the Schools in Houston, Texas.
Poems read on this episode are from Virgin by Analicia Sotelo (Minneapolis, Milkweed Editions, 2018). Copyright (c) 2018 Analicia Sotelo. Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions, milkweed.org.