2021 Performers

“A poet in the hand is worth two in the book…”

In celebration of National Poetry Month, URBAN-15 is hosting the annual spoken word marathon featuring San Antonio’s premiere performance poets; Mega Corazón. Celebrating a hybrid poetic tradition that combines street, classical, and slam performance styles, Mega Corazón is frontal, improvisational, at times painful, and often choreographed for a highly visual impact.

This year’s Mega Corazón will take place every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday starting April 5th from 10am-1pm (youth focus) and again from 6-10pm (general audience). Mega Corazón can be viewed for free online, 24/7 at http://urban15.org/live-stream or  https://www.facebook.com/URBAN15. Performances for Middle and High School students are designed for in-class or at-home-viewing.

We are also happy to set up interviews profiling individual performers. If interested, please contact us at (210) 736-1500 or events@urban15.org. Visual content and photos are available. 

This year URBAN-15 is proud to announce The Gregg Barrios “Precious Words” Prize; which will be awarded to one poet, handpicked by you! For more information on this prestigious award, and where to cast your vote, click HERE!

Watch Mega Corazón 2021 24/7 here!!

Mega Corazón 2021 Performers

Amalia Ortiz is a Tejana poet and playwright who 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 was chosen to speak 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 Canto Mundo 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). Most recently, she was awarded the American Book Award for Oral Literature. Amalia received her MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Frances Treviño Santos‘ publications include Cayetana: Poems (2007, Wings Press), A Certain Attitude: Poems By Seven Texas WomenThe 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.

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.

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.

Jessica Tilton Zertuche is a nationally recognized spoken word poet and a mother of two. As a founding member of San Antonio’s first youth slam group, she has been contributing to the poetry community since she was a teen. Jessica has won many accolades over the years including placing in many poetry contests. She is a member of the University of the Spoken Word, and has performed all around town including woman’s rights rallies, schools, and rehabilitation centers. She is currently working on publishing her first book, which should be available this year.

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.

Jim 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.

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.

A nepantlera rooted in San Antonio, Marisol Cortez walks between artistic, activist, and academic worlds as a writer, editor, and community-based scholar. She is author of the cli-fi novel Luz at Midnight (Flower Song Press, 2020) and I Call on the Earth (Double Drop Press, 2019), a chapbook of documentary poetry about the displacement of Mission Trails Mobile Home Community. She is also co-editor of Deceleration (deceleration.news), an online journal of environmental justice thought and praxis. She writes to resist all domination and remember the land. For more information on previous publications and current projects, visit https://mcortez.net/

 Nathan “Nate Zen” Zertuche is a San Antonio spoken word poet and father of two. He started competing in National Slam poetry contests as a teen and was a founder of San Antonio’s first youth slam, Fresh Ink. He went on to represent San Antonio at the National level two times as part of the adult team. Additionally, he has won and placed in many contests around town including La Voz and Viva Poesia. He is a member of the university of spoken word and continues to contribute to the community through multiple projects.

Octavio Quintanilla is the author of the poetry collection, If I Go Missing (Slough Press, 2014).  His poetry has been published in numerous journals and his visual work exhibited in galleries.  He teaches Literature and Creative Writing in the M.A./M.F.A. program at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. Instagram: @writeroctavioquintanilla, Website: octavioquintanilla.com

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.

Trinity University graduate Amanda Flores is the youngest poet to represent San Antonio at the National Poetry Slam competition and has represented our lovely city for seven consecutive years, performing all over the nation from Florida to Minnesota to New York, North Carolina, and Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. She holds the titles of the 2011 & 2012 Grand Slam Poetry Champion of San Antonio, and has most recently had the honor of being crowned 2013’s “La Voz” of San Antonio in SA’s first city-wide spoken word poetry contest. Performing and administering poetry workshops to schools, theatres, and community centers throughout South Texas, Amanda’s performance highlights include the annual Americans for the Arts Convention, SAAABE conference for international educators, and People (magazine) en Español’s 2012 annual convention. Her performances have been featured on the KABB FOX and WOAI Morning Shows, KENS 5 Great Day Sunday show, and KSAT 12’s Instant Replay sports segment during the 2013 NBA Playoffs. 

Génoa Yáñez-Alaniz promotes learning and social development through community activism. She works with refugee and immigrant communities providing ESL, literacy, and basic education with special attention to teaching English and digital literacy to homebound women. She is the co-director of CIELO Unity in Action and co-founder of Welcome: A Poetry Declaration, an upcoming city-wide inaugural event for World Refugee Day 2021. This event celebrates the. contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and other displaced people through their own poetic voices along with some of San Antonio’s most celebrated poets.

Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson (singer-songwriter, poet & hip hop artist) is a San Antonio native. She serves as a Teaching Artist for Gemini Ink and is an artist in residence with The Carver Community Cultural Center.  Her debut book is entitled, She Lives In Music, Flower Song Press, February 2020. Her music is available on all music streaming platforms. Andrea is the first black, Poet Laureate of San Antonio 2020-2023. Some of her awards include: Dream Voice 2018, People’s Choice Award 2019,  Best Live Entertainment/Band Musician of the Year by the 17th Annual SEA Awards, and The Arts and Letters Award by Friends of San Antonio Public Library.  For more info visit www.andreavocabsanderson.com , Instagram @Vocabulous or Facebook Andrea “Vocab”Sanderson.

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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