Are you the next Hays County Youth Poet Laureate?
Providing a once in a lifetime opportunity for the young poets of Hays County is the goal of two recent graduates of Texas State University.
Juania Sueños said that a publishing house and nonprofit, Infrarrealista Review, was founded by her and Cloud D. Carona in 2020. Both Chicanxs, each received their master of fine arts degrees and decided it was time to take their knowledge and desire to improve opportunities for underrepresented teens in a literary direction.
Specifically, the Hays County Youth Poet Laureate program they are starting will be rooted in San Marcos, and Kyle, and will promote literacy through poetry.
Sueños said this is an opportunity for underserved youth, and the general local community “to get excited about the literary arts.”
“We had a vision to create a central Texan sustainable literary community by promoting literacy in underserved and marginalized communities by directly involving local writers in the publishing process,” she said.
Cardona also founded an independent publication, Chiflada Zine, in 2013.
For both, there is now micro-press, Plancha Press, “through which we have started publishing full-length collections, and through which we will publish the Hays Young Poet Laureate’s chapbook,” she explained.
Supported by the sponsorship of the Burdine Johnson Foundation, she said they created the workshop “keeping in mind the things we would have wanted to learn during our educational career.”
“Our hope is not only to get these students to appreciate and value their own work, but also to connect them to other artists of similar backgrounds that have paved the way for them,” she said.
Sueños said when she and Cardona met as students, “We realized there really wasn’t a lot of interest in these (young) writers,” and there needed to be. First they decided to start a journal of their own, one that would listen to minority voices. Then, it expanded into summer youth workshops.
“The annual summer workshop … it’s been really wonderful,” she said, adding that to the contrary of what many might think, there are many youth here interested in writing.
'We have students from all different backgrounds,” she said. The workshop teaches them how to publish their work and at the end, individual projects are grouped into a zine for all of them. “It’s just been exciting to know how to use the knowledge and resources,” she gained during her college years to encourage new talent, she said.
The program is closely based on Austin’s Library Foundation Youth Poet Laureate Program run by Katherine Lamb. Workshops will begin April 26 for youth ages 13-19. These will run from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. via Zoom on Wednesdays and run through June 30.
The class will be taught and developed by Bianca Perez, program director at the Texas State Creative Writing M.F.A., who is also program coordinator at Infrarrealista Review, and a former instructor of the Austin Youth Poet Laureate; Anthony Isaac Bradley, former instructor at Texas State; Claudia Delfina Cardona, author of What Remains and co-founder of IR; and Sueños.
Half of class time is devoted to lectures on the craft and half will include writing time. Each instructor will work with up to three students to mentor and meet with them individually for more in-depth feedback on their work the last Friday of every month.
In late September 2023,, Natalia Treviño will judge and announce the winner who will become Teen Poet Laureate and will receive a cash prize of $1,000, and have their poetry chapbook printed, edited, promoted, and distributed through Plancha Press. The expected date of publication is March 2024.
The deadline to submit for the program is Sept. 22. For additional information regarding applications and submissions, contact the program organizers at infrarrealistare-view@ gmail.com.