Manuel is a performance poet who began his career in the poetry slam. He has represented Albuquerque many times on a national level as a member of the Albuquerque poetry slam team. Manuel has appeared on the PBS show, Colores, in “my word is my power.” He was one of the founding members of the poetry troupe The Angry Brown Poets. Manuel Teaches workshops on self expression and poetry in high schools and youth detention centers. He also works with an art therapist to help incarcerated young men express themselves. He is one of the coaches and mentors for the Santa Fe High Poetry Slam team. Manuel is from Albuquerque, New Mexico. His mother’s family is from Barelas. His father’s family is from a small town in Northern New Mexico called Anton Chico, and his father was the lead singer of the band Manny and the Casanovas. He identifies himself as being Chicano.The history, culture, and spirituality of his people are among his inspirations. “I’m proud to be from New Mexico, and to me it’s more than just green chile and desert. It’s seeing the value of famila and respect. It’s the rio grande valley and Santuario de Chimayo. It is feasts, dance, poetry and prayer.” His connection to his culture helps him connect to his students. Manuel Teaches poetry as a means for self expression. Looking within oneself and examining ones roots is the essence of the type of poetry he works with. Emotions, feelings, experiences, and prose in an historical and cultural context is the goal of his workshops. Self esteem, finding something to say, figuring out how to say it eloquently, and letting your voice be heard are just some of the benchmarks in Manuel’s workshop.
“I’m a Queer Xicana who’s haunted by and obsessed with writing about growing up in my large, working class, Mexican family and the rest of San Francisco’s Mission District community. Next fall, Korima Press will publish a collection of my poetry and prose titled Salvation on 24th Street. Some of my work has been or will be published in Feminist Formations (upcoming), Huizache (upcoming), The Malpaís Review, The Más Tequila Review, Turtle Island to Abya Yala: A Love Anthology of Art and Poetry by Native American and Latina Women, Chicana Lesbians: The Girls Our Mothers Warned Us About, and the blogs La Bloga and Duke City Fix. I teach Developmental English at Central New Mexico Community College. On October 18, I will host CNM Speaks: The Sound of Our Community, a forum for CNM students, staff, and faculty to hear local poets/writers as well as share their own creative work. The event will be held in the library at main campus. Andrea’s Speak, Poet; Adán Baca’s Española Poetry Explosion at the Española Public Library; and Albuquerque’s vibrant writing community inspired me to use poetry to deepen the connections on campus and between on and off campus. Occasionally, I teach Creative Writing in the Chicana and Chicano Studies Program at the University of New Mexico. As much as I love teaching in the classroom, I’m very happy to facilitate groups in the community, such as last spring’s “Fact, Fiction, and Funk: A Writing Workshop for Women of Color” at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. This past July marked five years of living here. I love Burque for allowing me to be a poet again, and I thank the writing community for being open to an outsider.”