mouth : forthcoming chapbook

Neon Hemlock, a small press based in Washington, DC, is a purveyor of queer chapbooks and speculative fiction. Their recent call for poetry chapbooks resulted in two books: Who is Owed Springtime by Rasha Abdulhadi, and mouth, by me.

I’m super excited to be chosen by NH’s guest editor Saida Agostini. The gorgeous cover art was crafted by dave ring, publisher/managing editor for NH.

Support queer literature! Pre-sale copies are available for purchase here.

Advance praise for mouth:

From Neon Hemlock’s guest editor Saida Agostini:

Agostini chose mouth because it “offers a precise accounting of patriarchal violence, a complicated constellation that cannot be cut down or anesthetized for anyone’s comfort. This work is a dare, a challenge to those who would rather turn away from truth. As they write, Those who try to love me cannot swallow my entirety. If you are lucky you will choke on my hips. We are lucky to be blessed with this witness.”

“In mouth, jo reyes-boitel speaks of deadly fear, the complexity of figs, the constant moon, and survival of the queer body — triumphant and illuminating, juxtaposing domestic abuse with distorted beauty, mysticism, and owning your self. mouth by jo reyes-boitel disrupts fairy tale dreams, by telling it like it is to obtain personal freedom.” — Sarah Rafael García, author of SanTana’s Fairy Tales & founder of LibroMobile

mouth invites us to experience the words that unravel the terrors of intimate partner violence, the subversion of BDSM, and the fierceness of femme-centered femininity. With luscious language and striking imagery, jo reyes-boitel compels us to occupy those interstitial spaces that define queer Latinx intimacies of survival, persistence, and elation.” — Lilia Raquel Rosas, Executive Director of Red Salmon Arts and lecturer of Mexican American & Latina/o Studies at UT Austin

With pain, power and triumph, Jo Reyes-Boitel’s poems are a meditation, navigating the human geography of longing, loving and surviving, and resisting the seduction of self-destruction to achieve self-redemption. These are strong words and vivid lines that cling to the soul’s memory.” — Charles Rice-González, author of Chulito, Bronx LGBT activist, and co-founder of BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance

the voiceless

A poem read during a vigil for the Remain in Mexico policy (MPP, Migrant Protection Protocols). Two years of Trump’s policy which, in effect, removed protections for migrants, keeping them at the border trying to survive, because the country refused to allow them in.

don’t call them the voiceless

migrants or asylum seekers

– those who passed countless borders,

who left all they knew because they were persecuted for their beliefs,

chased from their neighborhoods, their lives threatened,

their children doing without,

the scarcity of food, safety,

jobs –  

all for the promise this country offers

Jose Marti says “los grandes derechos no se compran con lagrimas,

– sino con sangre”

this is what it costs to survive,

to wrap into heart muscle the strength and insistence

to complete each day

so that their families have the chance at a better life

sometimes only a few feet away

that this unflowered promise and the scarcity of a life

is better than where they’ve traveled from,

sometimes safer than the uncertainty of their former lands…

and Americans?

we have forgotten our nature is to migrate,

to find safety, to build in a place that will be home,

to carry that desire in our bodies

without doubt

trusting our ability to protect and provide

for ourselves and our families

something in us long ago lost

lost the understanding that we or our families

were born in the same circumstance

this land never ours,

from the Lenape to the Coahuiltecan

we thrust ourselves here

after all that had been inhospitable, unforgiveable

we have forgotten to be gracious

we have forgotten to allow others’ dreams to blossom in this soil

just as our dreams once did

we have forgotten

and this is how we lose ourselves

even while these voices insist,

voices longing to be part of us,

who know survival is not a life

but still blood moves all of us

            blood moving, no time for tears

with dignity, face to face with the layers and layers of denial in this world,

acres of hurt contested, denied, and saturated with the history and blood of people

who have worn down their welcome, been cast aside, approached us, and were denied

as a country we speak of forefathers

inheritance and pride

everything we debate rooted in the conditional

we haven’t yet learned

we inherit only what we offer others

tell me: if all we must do is feed ourselves and feed others,

who feeds those who have built temporary shelters, share food along the border?

who embraces those who attempt to cross, only to drown?

who will hold us accountable because we have lost our way?

who will remind us of that promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

how long until we realize that to deny any who need our help

means we deny ourselves a life of self-respect?

of open arms?

how long until we see we are at the border,

watching the horror of our own acts?

how long until we recognize

we are the ones who hear no one,

who do not see,

who are the truly voiceless?

she wears bells, operetta, to run at Teatro Palo Alto, October 22 – 30, 2020

Written by jo reyes-boitel * Directed by Amber Ortega

Special guest musician Ceiba ili.

Cast of Teatro Palo Alto: Meena Herrera (Coyolxauhqui), Nicholas Ramirez (Coatlicue), and Ashley Flores (Yolottitzin).

she wears bells follows the story of the Aztec teotl Coyolxauhqui, who has lost her battle on Earth and is exiled to the moon. Is she dead or can she transform in order to claim a new legacy?

This event is FREE. Watch performances via livestream on Facebook or YouTube. For more information https://fb.me/e/4nfJtAsno.

With thanks to Joaquin “Muerte” Abrego for his contributions to the stage and script development, and to Anel Flores, who will be leading a Q&A after the performances on Saturday, October 24 and Friday, October 30.

An advance article by the Texas A&M University-San Antonio campus paper, The Mesquite, is available here.

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.

she wears bells cast + crew

These are some talented folx! Join all of us at the she wears bells premiere June 26 & 27, 2020.

JMA photoJoaquin “Muerte” Abrego (Percussion, Chorus), born in the barrio of San Felipe in Del Rio, began his professional music career 16 years ago in San Antonio as a street performer playing percussion and guitar. He has been playing music since he was a child and is a founding member of three local bands that compose original music: Los Nahuatlatos, Eddie and the Valiants and the San Antunes. Joaquin is creator of the Xicanx Versus Aliens podcast, available on Anchor and other platforms. He is also a traditional Danzante conchero, whose roots go back to pre-Hispanic America. He is a community health worker and community organizer in poor communities of color. Joaquin’s many other titles include chef, gardener, father, and husband.

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Giomara Bazaldua (Choreographer, Actor) is director of Zombie Bazaar Panza Fusion, a local queer-based dance troupe fusing elements of cumbia, ballet folklorico, polka, and, of course, fire dance, to produce work to produce work centered on social issues like LGBTQIA rights, immigration, and women’s freedom. Gio is also the artistic director and creator of San Antonio’s only all Latinx drag king troupe, Los MENtirosos, which has been charming the city while creating space beyond the city’s gayborhood, where king representation has been nonexistent. Her character, Sir Gio, won Mister Pride San Anto (2019), scoring highest overall in all categories – fierce!

J Hawkins 2Jess Hawkins (Production Lead) is a silent but powerful force of nature, supporting and creating art and activism in San Antonio and beyond. As the voice of Los MENtirosos, San Antonio’s only Latinx drag king troupe, Jess transforms into Gacho Marx, a San Anto fresa who respects his father, idolizes his mother, and loves his hair.

b hurtadoBarbie Hurtado (Technical Development) is a fat queer chicanx activist and organizer who works with the San Antonio International Woman’s Day March, and Planned Parenthood. They are passionate about serving their community and are constantly learning, evolving, and growing. Barbie believes in sharing arte y cultura with their community as a teatrista and cultural worker. They write about las dolencias y alegrias de la vida but do not call themselves a writer. Barbie can be found around town leading chants on a megaphone, playing the jarana with Son Queers, or transforming into their alter ego Pancho Panza and dancing to Juan Gabriel.

JoyousJoyous Windrider Jiménez (Director, Video Editor) is a multi-disciplinary artist, educator, and mother of one son. A San Antonio native, Joy spent nearly a decade abroad, where she helped diverse minority groups tell their stories. Since her return in 2009 she has presented her poetry, theatre, and visual art pieces in venues around the city. Joy has facilitated the production of over 50 original plays created by and for San Antonio youth. She currently teaches for Gemini Ink and The Magik Theatre. Joy is also the co-founder of Raise The Whisper, a writing and art collective for those affected by family rape and ceibasexual abuse.

Ceiba ili (Flutes, Chorus) is Maya Lenca from Honduras. With a blend of traditional indigenous sounds and canto, Ceiba brings the migration stories to the forefront of her music and teaches about the importance of empowerment through cultural memory. Her performances educate and empower communities to remember their roots and their right to migration.

Jaime RamirezJaime Ramirez (Composer, Musical Director) is a San Antonio-based music director, composer, and pianist with a BA in Music from UTSA whose work has largely been in theater and circus worlds. He was Resident Music Director at The Magik Children’s Theatre (2000-2007) and continues to direct throughout the city. To date he has scored seven professional theatrical productions and been awarded ATAC awards for Best Original Scores (2010, 2011) and Best Music Direction (2016, 2017). Jaime also toured as lead keyboardist for Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus (2007-2010).

Jaime’s’s debut solo album, “underscored” is available now on CDBaby.com and accessible on all streaming platforms. For more information visit YouTube.

bianca 2Bianca Sapet (Primary Vocalist) is a Xicana singer/songwriter , native to San Anto, Tejas, who strongly believes music can heal, transform, and transmute ancestral, spiritual knowledge; that music is one of the ways in which to bring about social change. Her life informs her music porque vida es arte y arte es vida. She is currently at work on an album.

l tijerinaLilith Tijerina is a San Antonio native teatrista pursuing a career in performance art, lighting design, and acting. As she navigates through an ongoing struggle with identity, her work reflects personal experiences of oppression, trauma, and healing as a brown Chicana artist. She has a BFA in Theatre, Performance and Production and a Minor in Latina/o Studies from Texas State University.

A curated playlist by Bonnie Ilza Cisneros (aka DJ Despeinada) will be played prior to each show. Attendees are invited to enjoy the pre-show mix.