#AWP20 Featured Presenter Q&A with Octavio Quintanilla
AWP | February 2020
Event Title: Laureates for the Pueblo on a River, Sponsored by Gemini Ink & the City of San Antonio
Description: In 2012, San Antonio became the first major city in Texas to establish a poet laureate program. This panel and reading will convene four award-winning San Antonio poets laureate to discuss the unique platform the laureateship offered them for impactful community outreach, their goals as poet laureate, the challenges and breakthroughs they experienced in engaging poetry in public spaces, and their continued literary activism in the community after their term. Each poet will also read one poem.
Participants: Jenny Browne, Jim LaVilla-Havelin, Octavio Quintanilla, Carmen Tafolla
Location: Lila Cockrell Theatre, Henry B. González Convention Center, Street Level
Date & Time: Saturday, March 7, 8:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Q: What are some of the conference events or Bookfair exhibitors you look forward to seeing at AWP?
There are many, and I am going to try and get to as many as I can. I am interested in panels that will focus on translation, pedagogy, and/or documentary poetics. I will definitely visit the Bookfair. I won’t be looking for anyone in particular, but rather, I want to meet new people, get informed about new presses and journals that might be interested in my work.
Q: What do you remember most about your first AWP? What advice would you give to an AWP first-timer?
The first time I attended AWP was in Los Angeles. The thing I remember most has to be the human buzz, the excitement, the anticipation to hear some of my favorite writers present and read their work. I was in two panels that time and, and that too, was exciting and a bit frightening. But it was great. My advice to a first-timer is just to relax, enjoy the moment, and don’t be afraid to say hello to a writer you’ve long admired.
Q: What is your favorite AWP conference memory?
My best memories about AWP have to do with friends—seeing friends I went to school with and meeting again to celebrate new publications.
Q: What book or books that you’ve read over the last year would you most highly recommend?
Some of the new books I read this year, and that I recommend, are Oculus by Sally Wen Mao, Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky, The Tradition by Jericho Brown, Cuicacalli: House of Song by ire’ne lara silva, Kafka in a Skirt by Daniel Chacón, and Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous.
Q: If you’ve been to San Antonio before, what places do you recommend that our attendees should visit?
If you are into architecture and history, I would recommend visiting the Basilica of the Little Flower located on the city’s West Side, all the missions, especially Mission Concepción and Mission San Jose, which are my favorites. Also, go check out St. Mary’s strip.
Octavio Quintanilla is the author of the poetry collection If I Go Missing and the 2018-2020 poet laureate of San Antonio, Texas. 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 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, and the Langdon Review of the Arts in Texas. His visual work has been exhibited at Presa House Gallery, Allstate Almaguer art space in Mission, Texas, the Weslaco Museum, Our Lady of the Lake University, El Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos, the Walkers' Gallery in San Marcos, Texas, and the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center / Black Box Theater. He holds a PhD 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. Octavio teaches literature and creative writing in the MA/MFA program at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. octavioquintanilla.com; Instagram, @writeroctavioquintanilla; Twitter @OctQuintanilla