2020 Performers

A poet in the hand is worth more than two in the book…

URBAN-15 is excited to present the 7th annual MEGA CORAZÓN, an seven-hour literary livestream. Celebrating a hybrid poetic tradition that combines street, classical, and slam performance styles, Mega Corazón features the best in South Texas-based performance poetry.

Part of National Poetry Month activities, this year’s Mega Corazón will take place on Monday, April 6th from 10am-1pm and 6pm-10pm CST. Because of the coronavirus pandemic this year, performances will be ONLINE ONLY via our internet broadcasting system–from la mera mera Mega Corazón de Tejas to your computer, tablets, gaming systems or smart phone! This livestream is accessible free of charge and without a password on our website at urban15.org/live-stream.

The first three hours of the performance (10am-1pm) are youth-focused and ideal for middle and high school grades (though of interest to all poetry-lovers). If you are an educator or youth-serving community center and are interested in broadcasting Mega Corazon to your students–or any other group you work with–please contact us at events@urban15.org or call us at 210-736-1500. 

Mega Corazón 2020 Performers



Gregg Barrios is a playwright, teacher, journalist and poet. He is the author of LA VERDAD: History of a Chicano Newspaper and LA CAUSA, a poetry collection. Barrios is 2017 Harvard NEH Fellow, a 2018 Yale University Fellow, and a 2019 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow.


Rohn Bayes has published five collections of poetry, including the critically acclaimed what i want to say to you. He has also written film scripts, children’s books, plays, essays, short stories, flash fiction and is presently working on a full length book called The Ancient Book of Magic Secrets, about how humanity developed. He’s a regular on the open mic circuit and his live performances can be seen on the YouTube channel “elijah1”. Originally from Michigan, San Antonio has been his home since the 1970s.

Jesse Cardona, a veteran teacher of Texas schools and currently an English teacher at Incarnate Word H. S., has received several awards as a creative writing teacher, including the Imagineer Award, the Trinity University Prize for Teaching Excellence and the Ford Salute in the Arts Award. His poetry book Pan Dulce was published in 1998 by Chili Verde Press, and his poetry has been published in literary journals and anthologies, most recently in Literary San Antonio. He twice won a Gemini Ink “Voz de San Antonio Spoken Word Champion Award,” and in 216 his “Bato Con Khakis” poem was selected for performance at the New York City Symphony Space.

A nepantlera rooted in San Antonio, Texas, Marisol Cortez is a creative writer and community-based scholar whose work walks between artistic, activist, and academic worlds. Always a poet, she strayed into an academic career, where she picked up a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies before returning home to write and research in service of movements to decolonize relationships to land and place. In 2019, she published I Call on the Earth (Doubledrop Press), a chapbook of documentary poetry in collaboration with book artist Léo Lee, and co-edits Deceleration with environmental journalist Greg Harman. Her poems and prose have appeared in Mutha Magazine, About Place Journal, Orion, Caigibi, Metafore Magazine, Outsider Poetry, Voices de la Luna, and La Voz de Esperanza, among other anthologies and journals. For more information on current projects and previous publications, visit her website at https://marisolcortez.wordpress.com/

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Anthony “The Poet” Flores is a three-time San Antonio Grand Slam Poetry Champion who has represented our city in competition on six different occasions at the National Poetry Slam. He has performed his work all over the United States, from local schools & community centers to H.B.O.’s Def Poetry Jam to the famous Lincoln Center in New York City. He is a co-founder of Fresh Ink Under-21 Youth Poetry Slam, the only on-going poetry slam & open-mic for teenagers in San Antonio, & he is also a judge for S.A.’s La Voz City-Wide Spoken Word Competition and the San Antonio Public Library’s Young Pegasus Poetry Contest. Just four years ago, he founded The University Of The Spoken Word, a collective of spoken word artists that has performed at some of the city’s most high-profile cultural events, including Una Noche En La Gloria, Luminaria, & the touring Matisse & Pablo Picasso Tapestries exhibits at the San Antonio Museum of Art, to name a few. His widely popular “Manu Ginobili” poem was recently published as part of the Manu Ginobili Tribute Poster by the San Antonio Express-News, and he was named “Best Local Poet” in the San Antonio Current’s “Best of San Antonio 2018” issue. His newest book, CINCUENTA: 50 Poems Celebrating Half A Century Of Life, was just published in January. He is a full-time poet who lives & works on the Southside.


Eduardo C. Garza has presented Jazz poetry, also known as spoken word, beginning in 1977 in Austin, Corpus Christi, Phoenix, Albuquerque, and San Antonio, Texas. Although it has had other names, such as Teatro Poecia, Jazz Poet Society, The Jazz Poets of San Antonio continue to provide a stage for poets/musicians/artists to express themselves through poetry and music.


Jim L-HJim LaVilla-Havelin is an educator, arts administrator, community arts advocate, consultant, critic and poet. His fifth book of poems, WEST, POEMS OF A PLACE was published by Wings Press in 2018. LaVilla-Havelin is the Poetry Editor for the San Antonio Express-News and the Coordinator for National Poetry Month in San Antonio.

LaVilla-Havelin retired in 2013 after seventeen years as the Director of the Young Artist Programs at the Southwest School of Art, to write, teach, and consult. He teaches Creative Writing in the Go Arts Program of Bihl Haus Art; in the Writers in Communities program at Gemini Ink, where he teaches at the Cyndi Taylor Krier Juvenile Correctional Treatment Center; and in the BFA program at the Southwest School of Art, where he teaches The Image of the Artist in Literature and Cinema.

He has offered workshops, classes, and public programs for the McNay, San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio Independent School District, Georgetown Poetry Festival, Gemini Ink, and many other sites. He lives in Lytle, Texas (the “place” of “poems of a place”) with his wife, visual artist Lucia LaVilla-Havelin.

A 17-year-old Venezuelan writer and student, Génesis Linares started writing when she was nine years old. Having fallen in love with literature, she kept writing until she discovered her love for poetry and immersed herself in it. She is a very dreamy and creative person who likes the different and the special, and her vocation as a writer emerged from images, dreams and what she has lived day-to-day. She believes that the bigger our dreams, the harder we work to create a ladder to achieve them one by one. She hopes one day to publish books and fulfill each of her dreams, achieving everything she wants and opening new doors that unfortunately her country closed to her.

Amalia Ortiz appeared on three seasons of Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry on HBO. NBC Latino named her book, Rant. Chant. Chisme. one of “10 Great Latino Books of 2015.” It won the 2015 Writers’ League of Texas Poetry Discovery Prize. Amalia spoke at TEDx McAllen 2015. She was awarded an Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Grant and a writing residency at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. She is a CantoMundo Fellow, a Hedgebrook writer-in-residence alumna, and she was the inaugural performing-artist-in-residence at ArtPace in 2018. She was awarded a NALAC Fund for the Arts Grant to film music videos for her latest book The Cancion Cannibal Cabaret (Aztlan Libre Press). Amalia received her MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.


Octavio Quintanilla is the author of the poetry collection If I Go Missing (Slough Press, 2014) and the 2018-2020 Poet Laureate of San Antonio, TX. His poetry, fiction, translations, and photography have appeared, or are forthcoming, in journals such as Salamander, RHINO, Alaska Quarterly Review, Pilgrimage, Green Mountains Review, Southwestern American Literature, The Texas Observer, Existere: A Journal of Art & Literature, and elsewhere. His Frontextos (visual poems) have been published in Poetry Northwest, Gold Wake Live, Newfound, Chachalaca Review, Chair Poetry Evenings, Red Wedge, The Museum of Americana, About Place Journal, The American Journal of Poetry, The Windward Review, Tapestry, Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal, & The Langdon Review of the Arts in Texas. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Texas and is the regional editor for Texas Books in Review and poetry editor for The Journal of Latina Critical Feminism & for Voices de la Luna: A Quarterly Literature & Arts Magazine. Octavio teaches Literature and Creative Writing in the M.A./M.F.A. program at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. Find him online at octavioquintanilla.com, on Instagram @writeroctavioquintanilla, and on Twitter @OctQuintanilla.

Andrea Sanderson (poet, singer, hip hop artist) known on stage as ‘Vocab’ has been a spoken word artist since 2001 and is the current San Antonio Poet Laureate for 2020-2022. She has competed at National Poetry Slam and featured at DePauw University, Morehouse College, Cameron University, Rice University, Texas Lutheran University, University of Incarnate Word, Texas A & M, St. Mary’s and Trinity University.

Her spoken word and musical performance have garnered multiple awards and honors. In 2012 and 2013 she was voted in the top three for Best R&B Band/Artist by the San Antonio Current. The poetry spot 2nd Verse that she co-hosts won, Best Open Mic in the Nation, in 2011 & 2012. She was nominated for RAW Artist Award in the category of Performance Art in 2013. In December of 2017, Andrea won the Influencer of the Year Award, from The Creator Awards. In 2018, she was presented with the Dream Voice Award at the Inaugural Mayor’s Ball in San Antonio, Texas by Dream Voice/Dream Week. In 2019 She won Performer of Year Award presented by Project Forward.

Currently Andrea is a WIC Writer for Gemini Ink and co-hosts 2nd Verse, Jazz & Poetry with a Purpose, and Fresh Ink Youth Slam. Her poetry has been published in The Texas Observer, Love Poems to San Antonio, Pariah Anthology, and Sycorax’s Daughters. In 2018, she debuted her theatre production, The Bad Mama Jama Mixtape: A Woman’s Soundtrack to Life; and in 2020 published She Lives in Music (Flowersong Press), the companion poetry collection to her third album, She Tastes Like Music.

John Phillip Santos is Distinguished Senior Lecturer in Mestizo Cultural Studies in the UTSA Honors College.  The first Latino Rhodes Scholar with degrees from Oxford University and the University of Notre Dame, Santos is a widely published journalist, Emmy-nominated documentary producer with CBS News and PBS/WNET, and author of a book of poems and two memoirs, one of which was a finalist for the National Book Award. He has previously taught at Brown University and directed a $42M portfolio in media, arts, and culture at the Ford Foundation. Most recently, he has collaborated on public art and “word art” narrative components of the San Pedro Creek Culture Park, including the libretto for an original opera. In 2017, he was awarded the Texas Medal of the Arts.

Dr. Carmen Tafolla, the first City Poet Laureate of San Antonio and the 2015 State Poet Laureate of Texas, is a native of the West Side barrios of San Antonio. Called by Rigoberto Gonzalez “the Zora Neale Hurston of the Chicano community,” Tafolla is the author of more than thirty books and recipient of numerous awards including the Americas Award, two Tomas Rivera Book Awards, three ALA Notable Books, five International Latino Book Awards, and the Art of Peace Award, for work which contributes to peace, justice, and human understanding. She has performed her one-woman dramatic show widely in Europe, Mexico, Canada, the U.S. and New Zealand. She is currently Professor of Transformative Children’s Literature at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and President of the Texas Institute of Letters. Tafolla is currently at work on the adult biography of noted Chicana civil rights leader Emma Tenayuca.

Jessica Tilton Zertuche is a spoken word poet born in San Antonio, Texas. She first took the stage to perform an original poem at the age of 9 and has been writing ever since. She has represented San Antonio Puro Slam at the National Poetry Slam in 2015 and 2016, and was a co-slam-champion of Puro Slam in 2016. She has placed in several poetry contests around San Antonio including La Voz de San Antonio and Viva Poesia Slam. 


Born in Mexico and raised in San Antonio, Natalia Treviño is the author of Lavando La Dirty Laundry (Mongrel Empire Press 2014) and Virgin X (Finishing Line Press 2018). She is a Professor of English at Northwest Vista College and a Board member of the Macondo Writers Workshop.  She completed her Master’s degree in English at UT San Antonio and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Nebraska. Her poems have won numerous awards, including the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Award, the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, and the San Antonio Arts Foundation Literary Award. Her poetry appears in several journals including The Taos Journal of Art and Poetry, Bordersenses, Borderlands, Texas Poetry Review, Sugar House Review, Sliver of Stone, and Voices de la Luna. Her work also appears in the poetry anthology, Inheritance of Light and Curbstone Press’s short fiction anthology, Mirrors Beneath the Earth; her nonfiction essays appear in Shifting Balance Sheets: Women’s Stories of Naturalized Citizens and Complex Allegiances: Constellations of Immigration and in the forthcoming Latinx Poetics anthology from UNM press.  Having experienced a bi-national childhood, she hopes to raise understanding between people on both sides of the Rio Grande.

Frances Trevino

Frances Treviño Santos‘s publications include Cayetana: Poems (2007, Wings Press), A Certain Attitude: Poems By Seven Texas Women, The Laughter of Doves (2001, Wings Press) and a chapbook, Mama & Other Tragedies (both Pecan Grove Press). She was a 1999 Fellow for the National Endowment for the Humanities for integrating U.S. Latino Literature into the secondary classroom. In 2000 she received the Premio Poesia Tejana, and in 2001 was awarded a grant from the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation. From 1999-2002, she was a member of “Women of Ill-Repute: Refute!,” a performance group that deconstructed issues of culture and identity.

Eddie Vega is a nationally-recognized poet and spoken word artist known for his writing on food, Tejano culture, social justice, and the intersections thereof. His first book, Chicharra Chorus (FlowerSong Books) was published in 2019 and his poems have been featured on VIA buses and downtown San Antonio walls and windows. Originally from the Rio Grande Valley, he currently teaches in San Antonio. On most evenings, he can be found at an open mic, a slam, or a taqueria anywhere in South Texas.

Nathan Zertuche, AKA Nate Zen, is a cofounder of San Antonio’s first ever under 21 slam poetry competition known as FreshInk. In 2015, he won La Voz city wide poetry competition. He was also on the 2015 Puro Slam finals team, and is a co-Slam Champion of the 2016 Puro Slam finals. He is also a member of the University of Spoken Word in Affiliation with Anthony the Poet. 




Mega Corazón has always been free of charge to the community. During this unprecedented health and economic state of emergency, please consider supporting community arts groups like URBAN-15 so that we may continue to nurture the artistic needs of our neighborhood and city.

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