HomeRio Grande Valley Artist EventsPoetry6th Annual Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival

The public is invited to the 6th Annual Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival (V.I.P.F.) on Apr. 25—28, 2013 at events across the Rio Grande Valley and Matamoros. Evening events will be held in Edinburg on Thursday and in McAllen on Friday. Many events will take place on Saturday from morning to night as 50 registered poets from across the Valley and Texas—and even poets from England Minnesota, and Washington and northern Mexico converge in the Valley to participate in workshops, poetry slams, and readings during our four-day festival.

The festival, which started with 18 registered Rio Grande Valle poets in 2008, has since grown steadily, welcoming poets from around the world. This year, we have an additional 15 poets whose submitted work was accepted into Boundless, the official anthology of the Rio Grande Valley Int’l. Poetry Festival—with poems coming in from the U.K., Guatemala, and across the U.S.

“People often ask me, ‘Why just poetry?’” García Ordaz said. “It’s not that we’re against prose. We have quite a few budding novelists and some well-published folks that attend. We focus on poetry as a salute to National Poetry Month. More importantly, it’s because you don’t get rich being a poet. Nobody sells the movie rights to a haiku. If you want to make money, write a collection of short stories or a novel. If you want to make a difference, write a poem.”

Featured poets include Amalia Ortiz (HBO’s Def Poetry), Tammy Gómez, Lupe Méndez, Emmy Pérez, Diana Dominguez, and Mona D. Sizer.

“One of the things that makes V.I.P.F. unique is that we are the only poetry festival in the world with concurrent readings in two different countries,” said Daniel García Ordaz, one of the founders of the four-day festival. “We also feed the poets as part of our Poetry Pachanga. You don’t get that at other festivals.”

The Poetry Pachanga—the precursor to the festival—originated in 2007 when García Ordaz organized a reading by 14 poets at UT-Pan American.

“We had fourteen poets and twelve tamales,” he said. “We knew the Valley was ready to support a festival when one poet’s son flew in from Dallas just to hear his dad read for ten minutes. We had 170 people in the audience and we saw the hunger for festival like this.”

V.I.P.F. is a program of Art That Heals, Inc. and is sponsored in 2013 by the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, Creative Alignment Consulting, El Zarape Press, Edinburg Arts, and Barrio Poet Productions. The mission of Art  That Heals, Inc. is to encourage cultural awareness by promoting the arts and to use art to help end the AIDS pandemic.

Most events are free and open to the public—except for some workshops with limited seating for the registered poets and a private dinner that is unique to our festival: the Poetry Pachanga—which includes public readings following dinner.

For a full schedule of dates, times, and locations and for a list of poets, biographies, and other details, visit www.vipf.org/sched.html. Contact the festival via e-mail at rgvipf@hotmail.com or find us on Facebook.


The Art That Heals, Inc. logo depicts a red ribbon for HIV/AIDS awareness, a pen, and a paintbrush—which incorporates the arts.

The V.I.P.F. logos include flowers and birds. Birds in the ancient/pre-Columbian Americas are historically depicted as representatives of poet-gods, as deities often transformed into hummingbirds and other birds.


Many thanks to our venues for graciously opening their doors so that we may have space to share our passion. We are guests in their places of business: Be kind, be clean, and be considerate. Check www.vipf.org for updates.


Galeria 409

409 E. 13th St., Brownsville


(956) 455-3599


Jitterz Coffee Bar

1625 N. Conway Ave., Mission


(956) 581-4147


Narciso Martínez

Cultural Arts Center

225 E. Stenger St., San Benito

(956) 361-0110


Paragraphs On Padre

5505 Padre Blvd., South Padre Island



(956) 433-5057


Sekula Memorial Public Library

1906 S. Closner Blvd., Edinburg


(956) 383-6246




Please check www.vipf.org/sched.html for latest schedule updates.

(Poets listed are scheduled to appear, but may not be available as listed.)


Unless otherwise noted:

Free Admission * Open To The Public

Donations Welcome * Books & Shirts For Sale


THURSDAY, APR. 25, 2013


*Opening Reception/Anthology Release: 7 to 9 p.m.

City Auditorium, 415 W.  McIntyre St., Edinburg, TX

Boundless 2013: The Official Anthology of the Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival

Note: Copies of Boundless 2013, the anthology of VIPF, available for $10. Perfect-bound; anthology includes poems by poets from across the U.S., the U.K., Guatemala, and Mexico. Wine and cheese reception and readings; merchandise available. Registered poets check-in.


FRIDAY, APR. 26, 2013


*POETS IN THE SCHOOLS: 8 a.m.—4:15 p.m.


McAllen Memorial High School , 101 E. Hackberry Ave., McAllen, TX

Shirley Rickett, Cesar De León, Corey Mangan, Trev Wainwright

Note: This is a private event.


Med High School, 700 Med High Dr., Mercedes, TX

Featured Poet Amalia Ortiz, Nina Avila, Edward Vidaurre, José Chapa

Note: This is a private event.


Robert Vela High School, 801 E. Canton Rd., Edinburg, TX

Featured Poets Dr. Diana Dominguez and Lupe Méndez; Oscar Peña, Celina Gómez

Note: 8 to 11:30 a.m. only. This is a private event.


UT-Pan American, ARHU 247, 1201 W. University Dr., Edinburg, TX

Featured Poets Dr. Diana Dominguez and Lupe Méndez. Registered poets Oscar Peña, Katie Hoerth, and MaryAnn Escamilla

Note:  Begins at 1 p.m. Open mic for UTPA students will follow these featured readers.



Museo Casamata de Historia Regional: Matamoros, Tamaulipas, México

Featuring poet Lic. José María Parga Limón

Readers: Brenda Nettles-Riojas, Trev Wainwright, Julieta La Poeta, Arturo Saldaña, Alan Oak, Steve Vera

Note: Poets will meet at the University of Texas-Brownsville Library @ 5:45 p.m.

Transportation will be offered by the U.S. Consulate (for up to six poets).




Schneider’s German Gasthaus & Beergarden, 5507 N. Ware Rd., McAllen, TX

M.C.: Barrio Poet Edward Vidaurre and The Poet Mariachi Daniel García Ordaz

Youth Poetry Slam Contest: 6:15—6:45 p.m.

Featured Poet Reading: Emmy Pérez 6:45—7:05 p.m.

College/University Readings: 7:10—8:20 p.m.

Adult Poetry Slam featuring HBO Def Poet Amalia Ortiz, Tammy Gómez, and Lupe Méndez, and featured musician Kip Austin Hinton: 8:20 – 10 p.m.

Note: All participants check in at the stage when announced.

See rules at www.vipf.org/slam.htm


SATURDAY, APR. 27, 2013




Jitterz Coffee Bar, 1625 N. Conway Ave., Mission, TX

Workshop by: Diana Dominguez

Topic: Including sensory elements into poetry or fiction.

For registered poets first, but open to guests—if space allows.


Dustin Sekula Memorial Library, 1906 S. Closner Blvd., Edinburg, TX

Hostess: Letty Leija, Library Director

Workshop by: Emmy Pérez

Topic: “Letter Poems: ‘Risking Sentimentality’”. In his book The Triggering Town, poet Richard Hugo quotes Bill Kittredge, “If you’re not risking sentimentality, you’re not close to your inner self.” In Gloria Anzaldúa’s “Speaking in Tongues: Letter to Third World Women Writers,” she states, “I write… to become more intimate with myself and you.” In this workshop, we will discuss and write letter poems in an attempt to get closer to our inner selves and the world.
Note: For registered poets only, with the exception of pre-approved V.I.P.F. volunteers.


Pharr Memorial  Library, 121 E. Cherokee St. Pharr, TX

Host: Adolfo García, Library Director

Workshop by: P.W. Covington

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