Award-winning Chicano poet inspires students

Reyes Cardenas

Award-winning Chicano poet Reyes Cardenas presented his latest poetry Friday afternoon at the Center for Mexican American Studies. | Wiki Commons

Award-winning poet and author Reyes Cardenas said his favorite poem is the one he will write tomorrow.

The back-to-school reception held by the Center for Mexican American Studies was graced with Cardenas’ presence.

Inspired by ironies and brutal truths of the world around him, Cardenas is a Chicano poet who has been writing poetry for the last 50 years.

As a child, he was often read historical poetry by his teachers and said that’s when his love for poetry began. He believes poetry is a part of him, just as much as the air we breathe.

“I was first published in junior high in the school newspaper for a poem about Christopher Columbus,” Cardenas said. “In high school, I stuck with history, and in the ’60s, I wrote about Vietnam. My poetry changes every day, like the world around me.”

Lorenzo Cano, the associate director for the Center for Mexican American Studies, was thrilled to have Cardenas read at their back-to-school event.

“Cardenas was chosen because he has been such a prolific writer representing the cultural workers of the Chicano civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s,” Cano said.  “He went beyond the traditional borders normally associated with American poetry.”

Cardenas won the Austin Book Award in 1986 for his work titled “I Was Never a Militant Chicano,” and has published six collections of poetry.

Aztlan Libre Press, an independent publishing company outside San Antonio, recently published his sixth book, which is a 40-year retrospective of Cardenas’ life and work.

Juan Tejeda, Cardenas’ publisher, said his new book is a collection of his work from 1970 to 2010. It is divided into 11 sections, five of which are selections from previous publications and six that have never been seen. His book also includes 11 black-and-white illustrations by artist L.A. David.

This trip to Houston marks the beginning of a new Texas tour for Cardenas and his new book, Tejeda said.

Cardenas hopes for success of his new publication and promises to never stop writing. He writes at least three poems a day.

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