Open Mic Night at Edinburg Public Library

by readingintheborderlands

Do you have a story or poem to share? Come to Open Mic Night on September 30 at the Edinburg library.

The Edinburg library is celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month with a series of events. This Open Mic night will introduce some talented local artists, including:

  • Daniel Garcia Ordaz, author of You Know What I’m Saying? He is also the founder of Art That Heals, Inc and the Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival.
  • Veronica Sandoval, author of a collection of poetry called The Answer and a spoken word album called Hecha en El Valle: Spoken Word & Borderland Beatz.
  • Anne Estevis, author of Chicken Foot Farm and Down Garrapata Road.
  • David Reyna, a musician better known as The Blind Man.

Open Mic Night starts at 6pm on Thursday, Sept. 30. Bring a story, poem, joke, or song to share. For more information call 383-6246 or visit

Children’s Art and Literacy Festival

By readingintheborderlands

The Junior League of McAllen will hold the eighth annual Children’s Arts & Literacy Festival on September 25 from 12:00-5:00 at the International Museum of Arts and Sciences.  This is a free event is for children and their families.  Attendees can tour the exhibitions of the museum, attend storytelling events, participate in arts and crafts, watch musical and dance performances, and experience many other activities.

More information is at

Literature from the Borderlands

by readingintheborderlands

The borderlands are an often forgotten region, but there are some books that represent our area of the world. I’m aware of a fair number of children’s/young adult books set in the Rio Grande Valley or written by Valley authors, but I’m less familiar with books for adults. Years ago I read an excellent collection of letters from Helen Chapman, one of the founding citizens of Brownsville (The News from Brownsville: Helen Chapman’s Letters from the Texas Military Frontier, 1848-1852 edited by Caleb Coker). Then last week I ran across another nonfiction book, this time a history of Roma, Texas.

Bordertown: The Odyssey of an American Place with text by Benjamin Heber Johnson and photographs by Jeffrey Gusky is a story of the shared border between Mexico and the United States. Johnson shows how the history of Roma, Texas, a tiny border town that doesn’t even appear on many maps, reflects the history of the United States. Each chapter describes the life of one Roma resident, ranging from the earliest settlers to modern inhabitants. The text is accompanied by many photographs of Roma and surrounding areas.

I haven’t read the entire book yet, so I can’t give a full review, but from what I’ve read so far I would recommend this to anyone interested in the borderlands. The writing is interesting and the personal stories compelling. My only quibble–and this may change once I’ve read the entire book–is the photographs. They are lovely, but there is an overabundance of ruins, decayed statuary, and lonely architecture. In the entire book I only saw three photographs of people. You get the impression that Roma is a ghost town.

I lived in Roma for four years and I remember it as a vibrant place. Yes, it’s small. Yes, it’s poor. And yes, it is isolated. But it’s full of life–passionate, loyal, proud, hardworking family-oriented life. And really, that life is what the entire book is all about. I would have liked to see some of that represented in the photographs as well as the text, especially in the later chapters that discuss more recent history.

That aside, I hope some of you check out the book. This is such a fascinating region of the world!