Altar-ing zine

San Antonio treasure Bonnie Ilza Cisneros crafted the Altar-ing: A Latinx Memoir Workshop that was to have culminated, through a series of workshops, in an exhibit. COVID happened. But Bonnie, the San Antonio Public Library (and Emma Hernandez), and the workshopistas weren’t dismayed. The last class moved online and we were gifted with the opportunity to find new ways to build an altar honoring our antepasados as much as our writing/creative process.

It was a challenge to take a small moment in the busyness of a time when work at home has benefits but requires payment. And sometimes I let the anger and frustration of a life get in the way of the knowing I carry that assures me I am supported. And in some of the quiet days of my child’s return to school and my work changing and my own emotions taking me, I find the root in how much I was loved by my grandfather, Adalberto S. Boitel. He filled his life with baseball on the television, cooking everything expertly, and writing letters to his family and friends in Cuba. His kitchen table always had paper, pens, envelopes and stamps. I mimicked his handwriting. It’s what’s made my handwriting unique. The paper he always had available made distant friends feel close. He’s been gone for a long time now. I hadn’t intended to create an altar based on his writing but, in all my feelings, it is what came through.

I needed this workshop at a time when I felt so distant. And I’m glad we created our work in a communal setting. Now, we have a wonderful zine that was just produced and I’m honored to be in such good company.

Pick up your copy here.

Author: jo reyes-boitel

poet, playwright, and essayist. queer Latinx. current MFA student.

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