This Year’s Keynote Speakers Include:

Sandra Cisneros

Ramón Saldívar

José David Saldívar

Sonia Saldívar Hull

Rubén Martínez

Jim Mendiola

Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say


Sandra Cisneros (WLA’s Distinguished Achievement Award for Literature Recipient, 2003)

Internationally acclaimed for her poetry and fiction, Sandra Cisneros has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Lannan Literary Award and the American Book Award, and of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the MacArthur Foundation. Cisneros is the author of two books of poetry (My Wicked Wicked Ways and Loose Woman), two collections of short stories (The House on Mango Street and Woman Hollering Creek), and a children's book (Hairs/Pelitos). 2002 saw the publication of Cisneros' first novel, Caramelo.


Ramón Saldívar (WLA’s Distinguished Achievement Award for Literary Criticism Recipient, 2003)

Ramón Saldívar is a professor in the English Department at Stanford University where he acted as Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies in the School of Humanities and Sciences from 1994-99. He has served on the Board of Governors of the University of California Humanities Research Institute, on the Editorial Board of American Literature, and on the national council of the American Studies Association. Fellowships that he has received include a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, a National Council on Chicanos in Higher Education grant, and a Dallas TACA Centennial Teaching Fellowship. He has published two books: Figural Language in the Novel: The Flowers of Speech from Cervantes to Joyce and Chicano Narrative: The Dialectics of Difference.  He is presently at work on a book entitled Américo Peredes and the Transnational Imaginary.


José David Saldívar (WLA’s Distinguished Achievement Award for Literary Criticism Recipient, 2003)

José David Saldívar is the chair of the Ethnic Studies program at the University of California's Berkeley campus. He is currently on the Editorial Boards of the scholarly journals ALH and Nepantla. He is the recipient of numerous fellowships, including a University of California President's Research Fellowship in the Humanities, a William Rice Kimball Fellowship (Stanford Humanities Center), and an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship for Study in Modern Society and Values. His books include The Dialectics of Our America: Genealogy, Cultural Critique, and Literary History, and Border Matters: Remapping American Cultural Studies.  Presently, he is working on a book on The War of 1898 and US Empire. The book explores the histories and narratives of the cultures of US imperialism. Additionally, it raises methodological questions about the paradigms of American studies, the formation of Latinamericanism, and cross-genealogical subaltern studies (South Asian and Latin American), as well as theoretical questions about militarism, nationhood, aesthetics, postcolonialism, and divergent modernities.


Sonia Saldívar Hull (WLA’s Distinguished Achievement Award for Literary Criticism Recipient, 2003)

Sonia Saldívar-Hull has recently returned to Texas from UCLA and is now an Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of Texas, San Antonio. She has been the recipient of a Ford Foundation Minority Postdoctoral Fellowship and her publications include Feminism on the Border: Chicana Politics and Literature and numerous articles on Chicana literature, feminism, and the cultural intersections of borderland studies. She is co-editor of Duke University's series Latin American Otherwise: Languages, Empires, Nations; associate editor of Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society; a member of the editorial board of the journal Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social; and a member of the advisory committee for "American Literary Traditions: An Integrated Series in American Literature" (Oregon Public Broadcasting and American Studies Association).  Her works in progress include Between My Art and Activism: Chicana Fronterista Cultural Terrains and Memorias Fronterizas: Memoirs of a Chicana Feminist.


Rubén Martínez

Rubén Martínez, an Emmy Award-winning journalist, poet and performer, is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Houston. In 2002, he received the Lannan Literary Fellowship in Non-Fiction and was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.  He is also an associate editor at Pacific News Service, and the author of the acclaimed Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail.  Martínez is currently at work on a new book—The New Americans (The New Press, 2003), a companion to the landmark PBS television series detailing the lives of migrant families in their journeys to America from lands as disparate as Palestine, Nigeria, Dominican Republic, Vietnam, India and Mexico.  Among his notable contributions as a journalist in print and broadcast media, he has been a guest commentator on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” was News Editor at the L.A. Weekly, and won an Emmy Award as host for the KCET (PBS-Los Angeles) politics and culture series, Life & Times.  


Jim Mendiola

Jim Mendiola is a Los Angeles based writer/director. His award-winning film Pretty Vacant, about a Sex Pistols obsessed Chicana punk rocker, has screened in numerous film festivals, museums, and colleges in the U.S. and Mexico. His one-hour movie called Come and Take It Day, has funded by Independent Television Service and developed at the 2000 Sundance Filmmaker's Lab. It was broadcast nationally on PBS in the fall of 2002. At his 2001 Artpace residency, in collaboration with visual artist Ruben Ortiz Torres, Mendiola completed Spaztec Goes to the Alamo, which the duo claims to be "the world’s first Chicano 3-D movie." A 1997 Rockefeller Intercultural Media Fellow, Mendiola is a regular contributor on television, soap operas and all things Latino and pop for the San Francisco Bay Guardian and other publications. He has just completed his first feature film, a rock and roll digital movie called Speeder Kills, which is currently playing on the festival circuit. His favorite rock band is Bon Scott-era AC/DC.


Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say

Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say is an artistic and cultural, not for profit organization, whose goals are in the area of literature, literacy, and social service to the Latino community and thus the Houston community at large. Palabra is now housed at Talento Bilingue de Houston, a full-fledged theatre. Showcases feature nationally published Latino and latina writers alongside Nuestro Discoveries, talent from the community cultivated through Nuestra Palabra classes, seminars, and readings. Performers consist of poets, essayists, playwrights, fiction writers, and composers. However, writing/literature is always the foundation for the event. Performances are in English, Spanish, and Spanglish. These showcases are more than simply readings. Each forum evolves from or leads to other ways to educate and inspire the community, and at the same time promote Latino literature and Latino authors. To learn more about Nuestra Palabra, please visit their website at