Archive for the ‘Tribute’ Category

Vigil for Victor Villalpando

Posted: June 12, 2014 in Photos, Tribute



Rest in Peace, Victor.

Por ser tu divina luz
Dios mio Santo
Ilumina nuesrto Camino
En este dia de escuridad.

Sagrado Corazon de Jesus
Eres nuestro amparo y guia
Guianos con la llama de
Tu corazon en esta oscuridad

Siempre en las tiempo MA’s
Oscuros vienes a estar
Con thus hijos. Dando tu
Luz brillante y bella.



My spiritual journey began when I was about five or six years old. I remember going to the Morada in Cordova with my mom and grandma every Wednesday and Sunday of Lent and participating in all the ceremonies and rituals of Holy Week. I remember wanting to become an Hermano when I was about six years old, but was told I had to wait till I was eleven. Every year that passed I went faithfully to all the scheduled services at the Morada. I as got older an was able to stay alone at home, there were times that I opted to stay home to watch TV. Really the only time was when the movie “Jesus of Nazareth” came out. Usually the week before Holy Week. And of course the Sundays I was visiting with my dad.

The years before joining the Morada I would try to mimic the Hermanos at home by pretending have processions. I would gather my cousins and line them up like the Hermanos did. I had a small cross I had received one year at catechism. I would try to pray (sing) the alabados the best I knew how. I we would process around my grandma’s living room and kitchen. At that age I really didn’t understand what all this meant, but for some reason it was calling me.

Finally, I turned eleven and Lent was coming to a close in 1989. Easter was about 10 days before my eleventh birthday. My time was missed to join the Morada. Yet I didn’t get discouraged, I knew that next was going to be the year I would join the Hermanos as one of them. I was exited to turn eleven. I remember Her. Ricardo Lopez telling us year after year that we didn’t join the Morada by choice, that we were called by God and Christ to be members of this Hermandad. We were chosen to carry on the traditions of our ancestors forward teach the life of Christ. Yet, at eleven I had no clue what I was doing. I was there from some reason that I could not figure out. All I knew was that becoming a member was for life and full commitment was a must. I have committed to the Morada fully.

2014 marked 25 years of service to my beloved Morada. In those 25 years I have grown to be a many of deep faith and extremely knowledgeable about the faith given to us by our grandfathers and grandmothers. A faith that was rooted in simplicity and humility. In those same 25 years I was elected as celador and hermano mayor of my morada. Both at a very young age, I was in my teens to yearly twenty’s as celador and mid twenty’s as hermano mayor. I was also a member to the Mesa Directiva. This was the board that is in place to unit all the Moradas of Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. In my twelve years of service I was the secretario and the hermano mayor secundo. I have about 1000 years of experience that has guided me for the last 25 years in my spirituality. Keep in mind that when first joined the Morada Her. Jorge Lopez and Ricardo Lopez had each been in the Morada over 70 years and both were in their 90’s.

In 2007 I was celebrating my graduation from nursing school from Northern New Mexico College. I had invited co-worker Ana Cisneros to my graduation party, which was on a Friday night. Ana spent a little bit time at my fiesticita and enjoyed some food. Then, she excused herself and on her way out she invited me to the Santuario (de Chimayo) the next day. She told me she and some Aztecs would be dancing. The next day I got up and made my was to the Santuario with camera in hand. I starting shooting a few photos and caught up with Ana. I thanked her for the invitation. Ana then told me that they had been there since the night before praying and singing and today they were dancing and offering there prayers. Ana suggested that I come the following year to the night serve. I told Ana to remind me. The stage was set, my spiritual journey was to take on a new path.

Between 2008 and 2011 I participated in both the velacion and the ceremonia with Ana. In that time I met Jacobo Dimas and his wife Mayahuel Garza and Beatrice and her husband Tomas Vigil. All five of these individuals taught me about the ceremonia and the velacion. Jacobo always made sure that i was able to share an alabado during the night ceremony. This a great honor for me. I was able to represent my ancestors in this sacred ceremony. I was told that the ceremony being observed was in honor of El Senor De Chalma, an image of a dark crucified Christ and the image was in a town in Chalma in Mexico. One of the reasons the group had chosen the Santuario as the site to celebrate this ceremony was to also honor El Senor de Esquilupas, another image of a dark Christ.

By 2011 I had been in a relationship with my girlfriend, Amanda for about three and a half years. 2011 was a bitter sweet year during the time of the Velacion de Nuestro Senor de Chalma. In 2011 Amanda’s mom was getting married that Saturday, we were unable to participate in all of the velacion or the danza. Yet, as faithful as we had become to the velacion we still went to greet our friends and spend a couple of hours with them.

As we were getting ready to leave I had permission to address the group to let them know we had to leave. At that point Jorge Garcia Atilano and his wife Virgina Necochea were about to address the group that their time as padrinos of the cendal has come to an end. They were in the process of choosing the next set of padrinos for the cendal. Being the padrino of the cendal is a three year commitment. As we were getting ready to say our good byes, Jorge stated that after discussions with the elders of the group they were going to ask Amanda and I if we wanted to be the padrinos. I discussed with Amanda and we accepted the honor. ((read story here)).

During this time Amanda and I had a lot of negative energies testing our relationship. Two members of my family were being mean to Amanda and it caused us to fight a lot. The negative energy was strong. I believe that God knows when he needs to add some extra help in peoples lives. The timing of us becoming padrinos of the cendal came at a critical time in our relationship. During those three years we here padrinos,especially in the beginning things were rough. The annual velacion and ceremonia was our saving grace. This was the one time every year we prayed together with the help of our friends. There prayers were our strength. I don’t think they know this, but after reading this they will.

Now its 2014 our commitment has been fulfilled. The negative energy is slowly making its way out our lives. The spiritual powers of the Danza and the Morada have combined in me and helped me be a bit stronger in my faith. In 2013 Amanda, Esperanza, Isabella and I were asked to become Danzantes. We participated in the Danza for the first time as Danzantes not just as members of the community. Jacobo and Mayahuel have been big supporters of us becoming part to this ancient and beautiful tradition. This year we passed on the obligacion of the cendal to David Martinez and Pilar Trujillo. It was a decision that only made sense. The connection between El Senor de Esquipulas and El Senor de Chalma needed to maintained for a least three more years. The bond that was create is now being strengthened.

Amanda and I were given our trajes de la Danza. Amanda got her blouse (not sure the actual name) and I received my tilma. Jacobo stated that he and the Jefa Helga Garza had worked on it. They felt that the symbol on my tilma needed to reflect who i was and were i came from. The symbol they gave was the Sacred Mountain with La Cruz de la Conquista in it’s summit and the Sacred Heart in the Center. Jacobo and Helga stated this represented where i was from, my faith and my commitment to La Cruz de la Conquista. I was deeply humbled by this gift and by the honor of becoming part of an ancient tradition.

In conclusion, my spiritual journey has a new path for me to embark on. I will take to ancient traditions and learn from them the story of my ancestors. I will learn the faith and pass it on to my children and hope they pass it on to their children for generations. Being a Penitente and Danzante are two obligacions that are life commitments. I believe the God has brought this two forms of spirituality in to my life to learn about humility and simplicity in this modern world. What i have learned in 25 years as an Hermano and the last 7 years with and now as a Danzante is the respect is a most, humility is something we need to practice daily and faith will get us through the rough stuff.

Here are some photos of this years Ceremonia.








Photos used with permission by the Danzantes. Always keeping in mind that Danza is a sacred ceremony and a prayer. Please respect the photos by not downloading if you are not a danzante or do not have their permission. Thank you for understanding and respecting this sacred tradition.


This is a one year anniversary tribute to my Tio Onivas Jose Sandoval, who journeyed to the other world a year ago today. My Tio was one of the humblest of men and had a heart of gold. He would was from the old world. He believed in respect and hard work. He was a man of dignity. He was a man who loved his family and his children with all his heart. My Tio was devoted to La Virgen de Guadalupe, singing her songs in the mornings in the loudest of voices. My Tio was an awesome man.

May you rest in peace, Tio.

Angelo J. Sandoval
(c) 03-24-2014

Its been a year,
Un ano.
Quando el mundo cambio por siempre
Nuestro Tata Dios mando
sus angels to call home
a la eterna Morada
a su hijo querido.
Los Angeles llegaron
con sus trompetas sonando
la musica santa de Dios
cantando las glorias y alegrias del Cielo.

A pasar un ano
la tristeza viene y se van
los recuerdos de tiempos pasados
las alegrias
las tristezas
todos son recuerdos de tu vida

Hace un ano que al cielo
de fuiste
te fuiste a estar con tus padres
hermanos, y tus sobrinos

Hace un ano que a tu
casa celestial te fuiste

Hace un ano que te reuniste
con tu querida, como paso la reunion?
Como fue tu primer visita con mi Tia
al llegar al cielo?

Le ruego al Senor que
tu corazon sea lleno
de alegria al llegar a ver a tu querida
y los demas de la familia

Hace un ano que al cielo te fuiste
este ano que paso
no recordamos du muerte,
pero celebramos los recuerdos de tu vida.

Hace un ano y el mundo
no es lo mismo si tu presencia
Hace un ano, pero no te hemos olvidado.
Hace un ano, y todavia recordamos
tus consejos y cuentos que nos cuentabas.
Hace un ano.

Less the one hour before midnight on December 11, 2013 I am seating on my couch watching La Mananitas a La Virgen de Guadalupe on Univison. I have been watching Las Mananitas for at least the last 12 years. I remember the first time I found out about the 2 hour long program, I was excited. I made sure to get my VCR ready to record the live event to add to my collection of videos. To my surprise, my grandma told me that Las Mananitas comes on every year on the eve of Guadalupe’s feast day. I was extremely excited to be able to witness the beautiful songs that were being shared by many individuals at the Basilica. I made a promise to myself to one day go visit Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe at her Basilica.

As far back as I can remember I have had a great devotion for La Virgen Morena. It wasn’t till some time in my later years in high school that I was given an article that talked about the images within the image of Guadalupe. I became extremely interested in the secrets that where hidden in plain sight. The advent of home based internet had become a reality in Cordova. I spent hours searching for more information about the image of Guadalupe and found the account of her appreciation in Spanish, English and Nauha. I was in heaven. I was learning about an image that has been around 471 years. Today it’s been 482 years since the appreciations took place. I spent a lot of time researching her image and learning about her Catholic meaning only to find that there is a meaning that is older then what I had ever imagined.

Though all this background is great to discuss with you, I want to get to the real reason for this blog post. This post is to give honor to La Guadalupana for all she has done for me with her intercessional prayers during some difficult times in my life.

My connection and deeping devotions to la Guadalupana began in the summer of 2005, I found out earlier that year that I was going to become a father for the first time. I was not prepared to be a father. I had no home, no stability; I was still in college and living a fairly free life style. Well, as we all know life happens and bam I am going to be a father. Not many people know this, but I had a difficult time accepting the reality of parenthood. In July of 2005 I made a trip from Juarez, Mx to the Federal District in Mexico City, Mx. I was part of a group of about 20 total, including the instructors. Every city or village we stopped between Juarez and Mexico City I visited every church I could offering prayers. Searching for answers to my soon to be role in this world, a father. We arrived in Mexico and we visited the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, I visited as many churches and chapels within the grounds. At the end our time there I had found peace of heart and mind that I would be a great father to my soon to be born child. I visit and took a few pictures as a reminder of my trip and the esperanza I had found being in the home of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe. I returned home full of esperanza and I haven’t turned back since. I am now the father of two beautiful daughters, Esperanza and Isabella. Both sleep under a blanket with the image of La Guadalupana. My faith in her intercession is as deep as my roots in my home town of Cordova.
Since my visit to the Basilica, my increased interest in photography and my new interest in poetry I have photographed many murals, statues and other images of Guadalupe. My first poem about Guadalupe I wrote while I was in El Paso during a week of field work with my master’s program. I was a student at New Mexico Highlands University. This poem reflects how Our Morenita is always with us. How she is always just around the corn and available to use for prayer and guidance.

A few years ago El Santuario de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe had a statue erected in front of the Santuario. I remembered that when the statue was being brought over from Mexico it was held up by customs. It was held for a few days or weeks. I don’t remember the exact time. I wrote poem to reflect that La Guadalupana was with her children, always. She became a victim of the border injustices that many of our people are facing daily. This poem reflects on how La Guadalupana accompanies her children though their tribulations.

In 2012 I took Amanda to celebrate her birthday in Alburquerque. We met up with our friend Ruzita while we were there. Ruzita took us to see a carving of La Guadalupana made by her father many years ago. This is a beautiful image and profession of faith. It was an honor to have been able to see this great image. The devotion and faith that went in to create this image was increditable. I was humbled by the great faith and work that went into creating this image.

This was a sad year for my family. My Tio Onivas passed away. He was one of the most faithful children of La Guadalupana. He would sing her song almost daily. He would sing at the top of his lungs and he could care less what anyone thought. His faith and devotion was deep in his heart and soul. One of his last wishes was that an image of La Guadalupana be painted on his casket, he asked local tattoo artist, Johnny Baca to paint the image for him. Johnny honored my Tio’s request, but instead of painting her image he used a wood burning. I know my Tio was happy with the work Johnny created for his casket.

The last few months I have been busy at work and not put time aside to write poetry, but I do take the time to photograph any image I find of La Guadalupana. I have created an extensive collection of images of Guadalupe. I know she is with me daily because she makes her presence known when I least expect it. For example, I took Amanda to see Ozomatli in concert for her birthday. As we are traveling south on 2nd street on our way to have dinner at El Paisa with our friend Andrea I spot a two murals with La Guadalupana. The next day I make a trip to photograph the image. It was a beautiful mural. During that same trip we went to Santa Fe and visited the Santuario of Guadalupe at night. I took some great photos and a poem soon came to me. This was the first time I had see this statue at night and it was a powerful view. Again, I knew that Guadalupe would be by my side no matter what I was going though.

In this blog I have provided links to my poems and images of Guadalupe. I hope she inspires your to create beautiful poetry, that she guild you in times of need and give you hope in good and bad times. My devotion is deep and I wanted to share a small piece of my faith with you on the eve of her feast as the night moves toward her feast day. I hope you have enjoyed the poems and images. Please share your stories on the comment section of this blog!

Here are a few more images for your devotion and prayers.





It is October 1, 2013, “Palabras O Muerte: Vivan Los Escritores” Anthology and Photo Book is now accepting submissions for poems by the poets who have participated at Speak, Poet: Voz, Palabra y Sonido and at Española Poetry Explosion. The submission window will close on January 15, 2014 at midnight cst (Chicano Standard Time). For details on the requirements for submission read here. There will be fundraising efforts taking place. I will be selling framed photos to help raise money to make this project happen. Keep a look out for other things such as raffles, bake sales and whatever crazy things we come up with!!! Thank you in advance for your submission and financial assistance. Let’s make this project happen. Let’s share our poetry with the world and let’s fight for our stories to be shared with the rest of the world. I want this book to make it to the Banned Book list!!!!!

Growing up in Cordova reading and writing were far from my mind. I spent my time riding my bike all over the plazita, swimming in the river and playing basketball. When I was old enough to drive, I spent by time cruising Spaña’s main drag. I would spend hours up and down River Side Dr. from one end to the other. These are the things we did for fun and to fit in. During this time reading and writing were only things I did for school, even when I first started college. Reading was what the nerds did, not the cool kids. Because of this mentality I missed out on a lot of great literature as a teenage and young adult.

I returned to college in the Spring Semester of 1999, I took many classes that were sounded interesting because I needed to bring up my GPA. I began to learn about literature written by Chican@s about our history and events that impacted our community and people. Even though the list of Chican@ writers is distinguished, it was also short. I was in search of more. I wanted to learn more about the history for New Mexico, especially Española and Cordova.

In the Summer of 2009 I attended a gathering, the group was called La Resolana. From this I began to write my own poetry. By the end of the summer we had put together a chapbook titled “Declamacion” this was the beginning of a collection of poems by local writers writing about our community and history. The treasure I was searching for was coming together. At our Resolana meetings we would gather and share our poetry and words or wisdom and guidance. This was something I never thought I would be a part of, but I found that it was a part of me that I hadn’t discovered in high school or my early years in college.

In July of 2011, Adán Baca had a poetry reading at the Española Library, the event was nameless for a few readings. I then created a Facebook page and called Poetry at the Española Library. After a few months Adán in a discussion with other poets dubbed the event The Española Poetry Explosion, it was named after an explosive night of poetry.

The Española Poetry Explosion has been a place of safety for many new poets and a place for veteran poets to come together and create a family of poets and writers. We have experienced flute players, musicians, singers and a host of veteran and new poets. The Española Library has been a great host. The staff has opened their arms and hearts to a community of renegade poets and revolutionaries. We have hosted chapbook releases by La Resolana when “Declamacion II” was released and when Luis Peña released his chapbook “The Three-Legged Dog”. We have had artist share their art with the community.

The Española Poetry Explosion is something new and explosive for our community. A safe have for young and old writers alike, newbies to the poetry scene or veterans. We have come together to expose a hidden talent of writers and poets. We gave a voice to many individuals who have been struggling with addiction and they became our teachers. Giving us an inside look in to their world of pain and let us know that they were human and had feeling just the same. The Library was their safe haven and class room to open many eyes in to the world of addiction. This is what community is all about. Every person who has come to a reading has become part of a family were all members are equals and all are respected.

I am honored to have been able to photograph the many great poets and artists who have come to the Española Poetry Explosion. I have collected a great number of photos of many open mic poets and featured poets. In the following blog I have invited Adán Baca, host to Española Poetry Explosion, Amanda Salinas, Adán Trujillo, Pilar Trujillo and Andrea Serrano for their thoughts and reflections regarding the Española Poetry Explosion.



Adán Baca

One of the beautiful and powerful things about poetry and spoken word is freedom, freedom to express what the poet has or wants or needs to say. There are no rules and no expectations. When the poet touches the pencil to paper or fingers to keyboard, voice to text on smart phone….the words are liberated and can also become liberating. These poems spoken from the heart, the mind the imagination, the funny bone; inspired by hope, loss, broken hearts, new loves, lost loves, our children, our elders our acequias our gardens and our plebe.

So for over the past two years the poets and the community have found a home at the Espanola Library. The library has been a great host and partner. The library belongs to the community and Teddie, Sherry and the library staff have been welcoming and supportive.

We’ve seen and heard incredible featured poets from as far away as Denver, many from Albuquerque and still more from right here in mi querido Norte. It’s been a blessing to see and hear people writing and sharing their words for the first time. It’s also been encouraging and powerful to see so many people come out and support the Espanola Poetry Explosion and the poets who share their words.


Amanda Salinas
Photo used with permission.

Two years flew by for Poetry at the Library I was so excited to learn something like this would be in my hometown Española N.M and  Adan Baca creator of Poetry at the Library brought in Hoy Recovery patients to read their truths and healing that hit my heart and gave me a better understanding of the problems we have in our community.  I featured twice and although I had featured before in Albuquerque something about performing in front of my peers in a town I called my own yet never really fit in made it more nerve racking, but Adan made it fun and laid back making it that much easier. I look forward to coming in and sharing my old and new poems, seeing my community come together positively.  Something different.  Not forgetting its “funner than a sack of wet mice”- Pilar Trujillo. As time flys by and realize that in just two years I have heard the most heartfelt, honest and raw poetry in one room than anywhere else and I’m lucky to have been able to experience it. Happy two year anniversary Poetry at the Library, and many more.


Pilar Trujillo

I first heard about the Espanola Poetry Explosion through my brother, Adan. He had been going to these monthly poetry readings and always came back excited. I decided to check it out one night, and I was immediately blown away. There was a true sense of community, but more than that, it felt like a really safe place to read a poem out loud in front of people. Everyone was so welcoming and respectful and very encouraging. I had never read any of my poetry out loud before. I decided to give it a try, knowing that I would be supported. 

I am always in awe of the powerful words that other people share at the readings. I have been moved to tears more than once in that space: hearing recovering addicts come to hard truths about their lives, witnessing someone read a poem out loud for the first time, hearing a new poem by a friend or finding new meaning in poems I’ve heard before. One of my most cherished memories was when my brother and I were asked to be the features for the reading in June 2012.  I will never forget how special it was to stand in the library of my hometown with my oldest brother and pour out my heart for my community. But the thing is, every single monthly reading has been a profound experience because the space allows for people to just be real and raw and true to themselves. It pushes you to be vulnerable in the best way.

The Espanola Poetry Explosion at the Library is evidence that we can truly heal together as a community if we have the space for it, and the right intentions. I am forever grateful for all that I’ve gained by being a part of the readings: the friendships, the shared palabras, the inspiration from some of the fiercest poetas I’ve ever known. Thank you to Adan Baca, Angelo, and all the others who have made it possible! Here’s to many more years!


Andrea Serrano

For years, I felt out of place in the poetry scene in Albuquerque.  While there are a lot of talented poets in Albuquerque and more venues than anyone can keep track of, I never quite felt like I had a community.  In the summer of 2009, I met a group of people who welcomed me into their circle and gave me friendship and my poetry found a home.  In Española, NM, the sun shines bright and hearts are warmed in the resolana that is created by the poets of the Norte.

The Española Poetry Explosion is a gathering of community and friends.  A place where poets can share words and laughs.  There is comfort in the words that are shared, but beyond that, it’s the feeling of the gente who are there.  New poets, seasoned poets, souls in search of healing, lovers and fighters are mixed in with books and history.  As my comadre Pilar Trujillo once remarked, there is something beautiful about reading poetry at a library she grew up in. 

To be welcomed into this space reminds me that there is safety in community, and that community extends beyond county lines and boundaries.  I often call it Speak, Poet’s Sister Event because it feels like familia.  Even if I haven’t been in a while, knowing I can go to an event where so many people find and share voice is an honor and I’m proud to know the poets and organizers of this beautiful venue.    

Española Poetry Explosion is the light that shines through the darkness, the resolana that warms the bones and the familia that is always on your side.  Thank you for the courage to create community in my own city, and congratulations on two beautiful years!


Adán Trujillo

When I walked out of the Española Library in June 2011 after randomly going to a poetry reading that I heard about on Facebook, I had rarely felt so inspired. Going that day changed my life and was one of the best decisions I ever made. Going every month after that (and until the wheels fall off) is a close second. This event stretched me outside my comfort zone, helped me find a voice I didn’t know I had and plugged me in to a community of like-minded people that I am grateful to know and call friends. 

Beata Tsosie-Peña

It has always amazed me, how strongholds of talent, tradition and beauty are so abundant in Northern NM. How the arts scene here has maintained an underground and above ground presence that never tried to fit into mainstream westernization, but has existed more to sustain each other, and echo our multi-versal realities that we have to navigate through daily as Peoples coming from mixed heritage and upbringings. Through art this has been done seamlessly, and I am grateful for its existence within so much breathtaking beauty that also contains so much love of place for the Peoples who live in the Rio Grande Valley.

Española Poetry Explosion is an example of the way we come together as artists to reshape our landscape to hold this space for ourselves. In a time when public spaces are under utilized and scarce, it is so important that we make use of the spaces that do exist to continue to come together. Poetry is a way to share knowledge, shared and individual experience, and tell the collective stories of our time. The oral tradition is strong in this place that anchors our spirit, and it is very clear to me every time I hear blessings of words offered up, in such humble settings, how our poetic intentions are a spiritual bridge.

I am grateful for those in our communities who take the extra time for rural organizing, knowing the importance and equality of hosting any size of circle, and even more so, for making it a consistent one. I am also grateful for the poets who have been willing to travel far, and lend their voice in the uplifting of our Indigenous atmosphere in Española, reinforcing a creative network that I know has more work ahead. I’m thankful for or all the strength through words that is emerging from such beautiful faces, and that I hope can continue to be a vibrational movement of its own in our Valley.


Here are some post reading collages of the Española Poetry Explosion. The collages aren’t in any particular order. This is part of the Española Poetry family and community. Thank you to all who have and continue to support this great community event every month.








If you’re on Facebook please visit the Poetry at the Library (Española Poetry Explosion) fan page. Also, drop by El Razafotografista and Campana de Esperanza Fotography Fan pages. For biographies of many of the poets whom have featured at the Española Poetry Explosion visit the archive of my blog. Like our pages and support great community events and local businesses!

To all of you who have participated in our family and community of the Española Poetry Explosion please share your reflections on the comment section of this post.

Through out my time in school, weather it was high school or collage literature, especially poetry were my least favorite subjects to take. Slowly I began to find poets and poetry that talked about events, people and history that I could identify with, but the list was short. Not many brown poets. The focus in class were on poets such as Robert Frost, Emily Dickenson and Shakespeare to name a few. I wondered where all the Chicano/Mexicano/Indigeno poets were at.

The summer of 2011 I was spending a week in Alburquerque with my new job. I received an invitation by Andrea J. Serrano to a poetry reading, Speak, Poet: Voz, Palabra y Sonido. Amanda and I attended the inaugural reading featuring Cathy Arellano and Ara Cruz. I didn’t know that this reading was going to become a monthly event. Then I received an invitation in July then August and so on an so forth.

Since the first reading in June of 2011 I was standing behind my camera taking photos of all the poets who have come through Speak, Poet. After a few months I realized that I was capturing the faces of poets of all walks of life, from all backgrounds and ethnicities. It was a great thing that was taking shape. At that point I knew I had to make every effort to attend Speak, Poet every month to capture every poet who featured and who stepped up to the Mic-less open mic. Finally, what I was once searching for was becoming a reality. Poets who I could relate too. I knew that this was the beginning of a great thing.

In April of 2012 I started a blog dubbed after the nickname given to me by Andrea Serrano. The nickname was El Razafotografista. I started my blog initially to promote my photography and poetry, but then realized that part of promoting my photography I could promote the poets from New Mexico. I started to take images I had taken at past readings and posting them on my blog and Andrea would allow me to copy and paste biographies of the featured poets. I realized that by creating those blog posts I was creating in cyberspace a corner where youngsters could read about poets who they could identity with. I was beginning to create a collection of faces that were writing words that many of our youth could identify with. My search for Chican@ poets was over. I had found the treasure I had been looking for and now I am sharing this treasure with all of you.

Standing behind the camera waiting for the right moment to push the shutter button, to capture that expression that gives the viewer a glimpse into the emotion the poet was expressing at that moment, as he/she spoke their truth. I has been a honor to have met and photographed many of Nuevo Mexico’s greatest poets and I know there is hidden, talented poets out there I hope to photograph in feature readings at Speak, Poet.

In this blog post I have invited Andrea Serrano, Cathy Arellano, Amanda Salinas, Fernando Lopez, Rich Boucher and Michelle Otero to give a reflection on their thoughts regarding the last two years of Speak, Poet. Here are their reflections and thoughts. I hope you enjoy these heart felt words and the photography that started my endeavor to document and promote as many Nuevo Mexicano Poetas.


Logo by: Fernando Lopez

When I was asked to do the logo for Speak Poet I was excited. I wanted to give back to something that meant a lot to me. I remember a friend, and fellow artist of mine and a conversation we had on how the most abundant and significant plant is the corn stalk. At that point I pretty much knew what I wanted to say in the logo. Andrea Serrano our host and founder of Speak Poet mentioned she wanted the Albuquerque’s city’s skyline in the logo. So what I tried to do was make that skyline unmistakable, and giving that our voices are our microphones. I wanted to have the mic bursting out of the corn stalk, representing each of us. Standing strong and radiating behind the city. The task was fun, and it is my hope that I captured a bit of what Speak Poet is.

Andrea Serrano and Fernando Lopez unveiling the new Speak, Poet Logo.

Andrea J. Serrano

In June, I canceled Speak, Poet for the first time in two years. My dad had just gotten out of the hospital and we found out that his prognosis wasn’t good. I was exhausted and the thought of hosting an event terrified me. I didn’t think I could handle it and without explanation, I put a simple message on Facebook – and that act alone took a lot of energy. The next month, when I was ordering the cake for the two year celebration, I found myself worrying that no one would show up. What if June’s abrupt cancelation was so offensive that no one would return? What if there was no more Speak, Poet?

I find that I often worry about Speak, Poet. I worry that there won’t be enough food, or that people will be uncomfortable. I worry that the building will be locked and I worry that I will fall down the stairs. I have learned that a small dose of anxiety before an event is normal and when it comes to Speak, Poet, there is no need to worry: the community always shows up
I never have enough words to describe what a blessing the Speak, Poet family has been in my life. What started out as an experiment has become a cornerstone to my creativity. I know that on the second Thursday of the month, I’ll be doing what I love and I’ll be among friends and family who never cease to amaze me with their words, their courage, their laughter and their presence. I love when someone reads for the first time; I love when Rich Boucher taunts the crowd into shouting “SPEAK, POET!” I love seeing our friends from Northern New Mexico join us each month and I love the sight of looking up and seeing so many genuinely loving faces. The fact that all of this is captured by El Razafotografista means we are capturing a story of community.

We weave stories, create connections and leave with our hearts a little fuller. Speak, poets, and speak loudly.

Rich Boucher

Together We Will Find the Right Words:
A Reflection on the Second Anniversary
of Speak, Poet: Voz, Palabra y Sonido

I remember that it was a really hot June night, a real slow scorcher. And I remember thinking when I saw the place (El Chante: Casa de Cultura) how many times had I walked right past it and not given it a second look? I remember loving that the reading took place in a HOUSE, a real house with two stories to it and a front porch. It reminded me of the Art House, the little place on Delaware Ave in Newark, Delaware, by the University, where I’d hosted an open mic and slam night for years before I moved to New Mexico. I remember feeling excited to check it out, and very much wanting this night to be a booming success for my friend Andrea Serrano. Andrea and I had grown to be friends and colleagues in the local poetry scene here in Albuquerque, well before the start of this reading, and I was behind her endeavor one hundred percent. I remember my girlfriend Rhiannon and I finding seats and watching the place just fill up. It was obvious from the first night that this place would be packed to the rafters easily and every night. I remember so many strangers’ faces, strangers who through poetry would soon become the friends I’ll be forever grateful for. I remember hearing for the first time a night of poetry where much of it was in Spanish and I remember listening and learning and slowly growing to love the sound of the poetry of New Mexico in the mother tongue of this land.

From that first night, where I debuted my poem “Dark Jade” (my anti-Sushi poem that I was happy to crack Andrea up with) and where I heard the work of Cathy Arellano and Denver’s Ara Cruz, and where I heard and met so many other excellent poets from all over New Mexico, and where I have personally witnessed a poetry reading doing good works for the community (and for individual members of the community), the phenomenon that is Speak, Poet has only grown in strength even as it has had to find a new home. I’m so fortunate to have even been the tiniest cog in this shining wheel. I remember Andrea confiding to me how nervous she was; I remember telling her that I’d been there, that I’d known what it’s like to wonder if anyone will really show up at all. To wonder if this thing has legs, to wonder if it has wings. Well, after tons of excellent features and open readings full of beautiful moments over a span of two years (so far!), there’s no reason to wonder about the future and promise of Speak, Poet anymore; there’s only the next milestone to reach for ahead of us.

Very Gratefully Yours,

Rich Boucher

Cathy Arellano

Speak, Poet: Voz, Palabra, y Sonido…Y qué ?!

Andrea Serrano had a dream, and every month poets, spokenword performers, filmmakers and photographers, singers and dancers, painters and sculptors, gardeners and farmers, activists, students and teachers, queers, Chicanos with Xs and without, African, Native, and Asian Americans, and more—we gather. Every month our voices, words, and sounds bathe dreams and pierce nightmares.

Many times I’ve craved Speak, Poet. My livingroom, your livingroom, our kitchen, our front porch, our stoop, our circle with the mic-less open mic. Live, up close, in person, and in color. I’ve driven my car holding my breath until poetry–in and out all of its forms–washed over me. Each month community reveals themselves, introduces their families, and brings back their dead. I’ve wanted, needed to share my poetry, my concrete homeland, my queer body, me. And, I—visitor, outsider—have been heard, seen.

Speak, Poet where community says, Y qué to the crooked boss! Y qué to the derelict law! Y qué to the unjust jail! Y qué to the jail-like school! Y qué to the language police! Y qué to all the people that would keep us out, alone, separated, unheard, unseen. The community of Speak, Poet; the community that is Speak, Poet: Incredible. Truly.

Speak, Poet touched me so deeply that I wanted my students to have their minds blown, their consciousness cracked, and their souls soothed. This fall marks the first year anniversary at Central New Mexico Community College of CNM Speaks: Poetry and Spoken Word Open Mic. Yes, I copied. Do you blame me? Each time poets conjure their worlds on campus or a student speaks her or his poetic fact or fiction, or someone says, “I needed that” or “I’m going home to write”—or, they pull out paper and pen and write something on the spot and read it (!), I know the rite is right.

I humbly offer sincere gratitude to Andrea for having the vision and the ovaries for birthing Speak, Poet. And thank you to every member of the Speak, Poet community who sustains it with each breath.

Finally, won’t the poems that have bounced off the mic-less open mic make one helluva anthology?

Y qué! Y punto final!

Amanda Salinas
Photo used with permission.

Looking back 2yrs at Speak Poet, I think about hearing all the poets and seeing how they stood up there with such confidence. I remember when it was my turn to get up and read my poem, my very first poem writen and performed I was so nervous I’m not sure I read my poem out loud instead I whispered it quickly and promptly got sick outside! Andrea Serrano the creator of Speak Poet encouraged me to write, keep writing, and believed in me enough to have me as a feature for “Voices to listen for” A proud night for me and I still thank Andrea today for the encouragement. Speak Poet has been wonderful and I look forward to driving from Chimayo/Cordova just to see everyone and hear their poetry. Speak Poet has become a place where I feel comfortable enough to share my truth knowing everyone there always has nice things to say a hug or smile to give just when you need it, even if they don’t know it. Andrea Serrano gave me a second chance at featuring a long side JoseLuis Ortiz and all though yet again I was nervous and didn’t quite use my time wisely I didn’t get sick again! It has been an honor to be a part of the Speak Poet family and hope 2yrs leads to many more come!

Fernando Lopez

I moved to New Mexico in 2009 with a stack of bad break up poems and a mound of past regrets. I was an artist and poetry was just something kind of new to me. Never, would I have considered myself to be a poet or a writer. I couldn’t imagine myself being the type, writing for the sake of writing. How I grew up, such things were unheard of and pointless. The first time I heard anyone speak in that way was in fifth grade when my teacher Ms. Kelly showed us a video of Martin Luther King Jr in his famous “I have a dream speech”. It was then that something sparked in me. His speech would resonate with me, not only for what it meant but for the ferocity in his voice when he said it. I never realized such power existed, that simple words could mean and change so much. The first time I read at Speak Poet I remember a feeling just like that, it was infinite. I felt that I was a part of a revolution of artist and freethinkers standing in the company of one another sharing, peeling themselves to the very core with their words. For the first time, I heard my own voice and even though my hands shook and my voice quivered with every word. I got that same feeling I did when I heard that speech. What I love about Speak Poet is its mixture of seasoned poets (like those in this blog) and we, the people not so seasoned, yet equal, in our love of the word. A thanks to our host Andrea Serrano for giving us a gift, a safe place, a place of camaraderie and community, a place we all can call our home, a home for our words. Even my two younger sisters (teenagers) read for the first time there, I was so proud. Not long ago I got stopped by someone whom I never met before, asking me “hey you’re that poet from Speak Poet right”? And I was like, yeah I’m that poet.

Michelle Otero

Speak, Poet is Nana’s kitchen after a big meal when your sisters and tíos and cousins and their kids and the neighbors and your niece and the nice güero boyfriend she brought home from college linger around the table and tell stories. Your tío who lost hearing in one ear during the war tells that one you love about the night he and your dad were walking home along the acequia after the dance and came face to face with La Llorona. Mama remembers the mean priest who used to shout, “You did what?!” from the confessional. He once gave her ten rosaries for penance. Your boy cousins take turns telling the time they were wrestling in Nana’s shower and broke her door, and she chased their naked bodies through the hallway and out into the yard.

Someone gets hungry again, and there are burritos and buñuelos and punch in rainbow colors. And it seems there are more people than when you started, and there’s no room to sit, and it’s hot, but everyone wants to be in the kitchen because that is where we are fed.

You remember those who have passed, those who were wounded. Someone pulls out a guitar. And you don’t know how it happens, but before the night ends, your niece, the shy one with the güero boyfriend, is reading something she wrote, and it’s the story of her and all of us, how we come together, how we are fed.


Here are some post reading collages of Speak, Poet. The collages aren’t in any particular order. This is part of the Speak, Poet family and community. Thank you to all who have and continue to support this great community event every month.








If you’re on Facebook please visit the Speak, Poet: Voz, Palabra y Sonido fan page. Also, drop by El Razafotografista and Campana de Esperanza Fotography Fan pages. For biographies of many of the poets whom have featured at Speak, Poet visit the archive of my blog. Like our pages and support great community events and local businesses!

To all of you who have participated in our family and community of Speak, Poet please share your reflections on the comment section of this post.

The image on this post was created by Johnny Baca owner at tattoo artist of Johnny’s Placa Tattoo. My Tio had asked Johnny to paint an image of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe on his casket. Johnny honored my Tio’s request. This is the image created by Johnny. The poem is a tribute Johnny’s last tribute to my Tio.



Last Request

(c) Angelo J. Sandoval

The mid night oil burned
the smell of burning wood
the image of La Guadalupana
coming to life.

en lotra banda de Cordova
smoke from wood burning
filled the air
Johnny’s Placa Tattoo Shop
and artist
burning the mid night oil.

Honoring last request
a request
an image of La Virgen
gracing her presence
on a casket lid

Old customs, traditions
young honoring elder’s
last wishes.
Community comes together
like old times.
Cordova, land of poco tiempo
where ancient customs
come to life unexpectedly

wood burning
image making
artist honoring
soul departing
coffin last resting bed
all come together
as we say farewell
to a humble

The following is an image of a rainbow that appeared on April 3, 2013. The sun was out, a few clouds in the air. I walked out to the portal and saw this beautiful sight on the south eastern corner of my property. This happened two days after my Tio Onivas’s funeral.


El Arco Iris Toco el Río

(c) Angelo J. Sandoval

I saw a rainbow
el otro dia
one end of the rainbow
touching down
en el Rio Quemado
el sol brillante
shining beautifully
nuves de lluva y sol
con cielos azules
at dusk the beauty
of the setting sun
illuminando los cerros Cordoveses.

Just days after my Tio was
laid to rest
lluva, acro iris, sol y nuves
a sign that my Tio
was on his jornada a su
(casa eterna,
la casa celestial)
la eterna morada
su casa verdadera.

As God sent his promise
to never flood the world
in form of a rainbow,
mi Tio sent his llena
of a beautiful journey
un jornada llena de alegria.

The waters of el Rio Quemado
the life source of Cordova
our summer playground
the starting point of my Tio’s journey.

El arco iris brillante
dando illuminesa
al camino que al cielo llaga,
the Soul of my Tio on his last
hike from the rio of his childhood
to the morada celestial
to enjoy the gifts from God
that await my Tio,
a man who loved all creation.

In life we meet many persons. Some become temporary buddies, especially when you’re in collage. Other times that person may stay in your life for a few months or years. And sometimes, a person stays in your life for a life time. That presence may not be physical, but it is more in the emotional or spiritual sence. The later is the friend I made while I was attending classes at Northern New Mexico Collage. I had class with this man and I would listen to him talk. He would make topics make sence. I got to know him slowly, after a while we became friends.

Ernesto Mitchell-Tafoya was a man who, by his presence inspired you. If you got to know him and he opened up to you and you were able to her his story, it was an amazing tail of resiliency. This blog post is to honor this great person. I have included a picture of Ernesto that was in the Arts section of the Rio Grande Sun when they did a story about him and his play “Good Women of Aztlán”. I have also include three poems I wrote for Ernesto. This is a trifecta in his honor.




A True Hero

© 2009 Angelo J. Sandoval

What is a hero, better yet a superhero? Many may say it’s Superman

Spiderman Or

Maybe Wonderwomen.

Others say it’s Michael Jordan

Alex Rodriguez Or

Kobe Bryant

But are these people/personas really Superheroes?

iNo pienso yo que son! A real hero is an individual That sets, gives, teaches And inspires others to do their best. to achieve realistic dreams. I have found this Hero, He walks the halls of the college. What college you ask? Pues el Northern or as the older Homies call it, el TVI.

This hero, I met, pues he is a vato That got down with pen and paper And wrote the most amazing play.

This hero is patient.

I met this Man while attending Classes at Northern New Mexico College Superheroes, heroes, Batman, Spiderman They don’t know the true meaning of Being a hero.

Though this Dude doesn’t know he’s A hero, He Is! He’s a great inspiration to all. Despite severe health problems.

My hero and my inspiration Keeps his head up.

Graduating from Northern, Attending Highlands, he continues To inspire, setting the example. Despite illness He keeps fighting. He called his play, “Good Woman of Aztlan” My hero is the Great Man of Aztlan

MUCHA GRACIAS THANK YOU- Ernesto Tafoya Mitchell For being a great inspiration and a great example

This poem was inspired by a great friend of mine, his name is Ernesto Mitchell Tafoya! He has inspired me to keep working hard to achive my goals, dispite any type of hurdle that may come my way. I hope this poem helps inspire all of you, Mis Amigos de Cyperlandia.

To my Friend Ernesto

(c) Angelo J. Sandoval

The alter has been prepared
Las Santos en su propio lugar
la concha,
white sage,
el copal de oro
las velas con su llama brillante

El altar
listo pa’ recibir
el humo sagrado
that is created

created by a sacred union
una union Santa y sagrada
el humo del copal de oro
and white sage
en la concha de abulón

la llama une
al copal con el sage
las oracions
I pray
I pray


el humo sube al las alturas
de los cielos

los rezonos
pidiendole a mi Tatita Dios
que mi amigo
tenga alivio de su enfermedad
que las bendicions de
los Angeles Santos
lleven las oracions a mi amigo.

Las velas en el altar
brillantes con la luz del Creador

Pidiendole al Cristo Crucificado
el Cristo Negro
de Chalma y Esquipula
que mi amigo halle
las esperanzas de Creador.

Ultimo Adios


I went to say Adios
today, to a friend
a mentor
an all around Vato Firme.

I was honored to
stand in front of your
Familia y amigos

I honored your strength
your determination
your life filled Spirit.

your legacy will live
vivira hasta los ultimos dias
de estos tiempos.

Adios le dijemos solo
a tu cuerpo
tu alma siempre estara
con nosotros.

nos dejaste un gran ejemplo
an example of perseverance
determination and

I thank you
las gracias te doy
por ver sido in Buena Amigo.
Que en paz descances, Ernesto.

The following is a photo of Ernesto by Pam Bentley and her words in tribute of Ernesto.


Posting this picture in honour of Ernesto Mitchell, who died last week, and to remember. It was taken in his room in August 2006 when we were roommates in New Mexico; as usual, he was at his desk, preparing for a class. I remember how hard he worked at college late in his life, how his papers were always twice as long as everyone else’s, filled with thought and stories, all the stories he told me of his mother and father, his early party days dancing in Plainsview, his years of work as a sheetrock installer, the play he wrote that was performed at the NNMCC college directed by Rosalia Triana, his love and friendship for me, and his love for the dogs, especially Maggie, and how that allowed me to go to India for a school year, how he delighted in spending time with his sisters and their kids, and with my friends, Heather and Christopher and their kids, his Eeyore-like presence in the college hallways until you read his stories, his guitar playing in the living room, and his voice singing old songs in Spanish, his love for all kinds of music, his never-ending curiosity, and ambition to learn as much as he could, and give something back, his strength in the face of daily treatments and insulin tests, on-and-off trips for dialysis, and the peace he is probably feeling now. Although it became harder to keep in touch the past few years, I will miss him, and am very sad we won’t ever get the chance to share a meal again at Angelina’s where his favorite was the catfish. Once a Tejano.

A tribute by Tim Crone, professor at NNMC.

Tom Crone:

Thank you Angelo, for your tribute to Ernesto. Your post was the first news I had of my friend’s death and I was devastated. I cried myself to sleep last night grieving the loss of this remarkable man. This is my contribution to his elegy and you will see below why I did not deliver it in person. I asked around today and discovered that Ernesto’s obituary was in the Sun on Wednesday and his service was yesterday at a Baptist church here in town. At first I was disturbed that my friends had not informed me, but asking around today, I discovered that while I was at the Legislature on Wednesday, Lisa Duran saw Ernesto’s obituary and informed all who were in the office. They attended his service yesterday morning, while I was sleeping through yet another tedious NNMC Board of Regents meeting, unaware of the service. I now realize that this could be Ernesto’s last joke and gift for me. Ernesto and I laughed a lot together and we shared a rebellious spirit. More to the point, he was a loner, as am I, and this was our closest bond. I suspect, though I don’t know, that he died alone. I hope he did. I relate. I was a person who knew and understood his childhood in Plainview and much else about being Mexican-American in Texas during our time. I loved this man dearly and I cannot begin to express my grief. I couldn’t write this last night because I could not stop crying. At times like this, even skeptics like me, wish there was an afterlife and that my dear friend Ernesto was reading this and appreciating it. It really doesn’t matter, but I will miss this wonderful person so very much. I always dreaded this day, knowing that it was always just around the corner. He was ready to go at any moment and expressed it often. For this and many other gifts from Ernesto, I am grateful. It eases some of my own pain. My friend is no longer hurting and suffering. In the Anthropology class you took with me, I showed a video about Hunters who killed a giraffe. The Hunters honored the giraffe, knowing that the world was a lesser place because of the loss of such a magnificent being. Our world is reduced with the loss of your magnificent being. You always signed your papers, projects, etc. Ernesto Mitchell and Donor. So, we must all thank the donor for giving Ernesto these additional years and us our opportunity to get to know and love this man. Adios, mi muy estimado y querido amigo, Ernesto. You were the very best student with whom I shared the pleasure of our collective knowledge, wisdom, experience and mutual admiration. I am sorely missing you, my brother.

Tim Crone:
Here’s another tribute to Ernesto, one he was here to appreciate; thoughts I shared with him. When I first saw him on campus, coming out of the Student Success Center, I was immediately struck by his remarkable appearance. His egg-shaped head, big glasses, short stout stature, his steady gaze and sizing-you-up demeanor. We always watched one another, and both being Texans, we always greeted one another, though neither had the faintest idea of who the other might be. I saw him several times before he took any of my classes and when I saw him there, I was excited with the anticipation of his presence because he gave off an aura of wisdom and experience. Good assessment. He delivered, boy did he ever deliver. I always thought and told him, that he should be an actor. A Hollywood actor. Can’t you just see it? He did write plays and I have the manuscripts plus everything else he wrote for my classes. He took most of them. I cherish these gifts. We also shared harsh memories of life in West Texas during the 50’s and 60’s for Mexicans. His last name was Mitchell, and he had brown hair, but that didn’t shield him and his family from the harsh, irrational prejudice in Plainview during that time. Not a hell of a lot better right now. I mentioned last night that we shared a rebellious spirit and being loners. We also shared a healthy skepticism about religion, a fundamental understanding of ethnocentrism, not to mention a love of learning, exploration, discussion, argument and mutual respect and admiration. My consolation in all this is that I told him all I have written. I am now sharing it with you.

Tim Crone:
Oh, I left something out. I am fascinated with construction and woodworking and have done many projects. Ernesto was a “rock hanger” by profession and though his health would not permit, I consulted with him on my “rocking” and roofing and other projects, while he was alive and available. Once again, thanks Ernesto.