516 WORDS: Denise Chávez, Demetria Martinez, & Mari Simbaña

3 poets updated

Friday, March 30, 7:30pm

At Outpost Performance Space, 210 Yale Blvd. SE, Albuquerque 

516 ARTS and at the Outpost Performance Space present a 516 WORDS poetry reading in partnership with Encuentro and in conjunction with the exhibition The US-Mexico Border: Place, Imagination and Possibility. The evening opens with Mari Simbaña and features the acclaimed authors Demetria Martinez and Denise Chávez

516 WORDS is an ongoing literary arts series inspired by the subjects of our exhibitions. Each reading highlights a nonprofit organization whose work is aligned with the themes being explored. For this one, Encuentro is our community partner. Encuentro’s mission is to transform New Mexico into a thriving community for all of its residents. They do this by engaging Latino immigrant families in educational opportunities that build skills for economic and social justice. 


Demetria Martinez is an author, activist and journalist based in New Mexico. For her, writing and activism are ways to explore—and bridge—borders between people of different nations, languages, spiritualities and life experiences. Her widely translated novel, Mother Tongue, is based in part upon her 1988 trial for conspiracy against the United States government in connection with allegedly smuggling Salvadoran refugees into the country. In The Block Captain’s Daughter, activists in Albuquerque draw on the wisdom of their multiethnic/multinational roots in their struggle to better the world. It won a 2013 American Book Award and the International Latino Book Award for best Latino focused fiction. In 2013, she co-authored an e-book with former Oklahoma Senator Fred Harris, These People Want to Work: Immigration Reform. It describes the plight of five undocumented women who live and work in the United States, followed by an analysis of immigration reform. Confessions of a Berlitz-Tape Chicana, a collection of autobiographical essays, includes such far-reaching subjects such as the church’s treatment of women, Latina identity in the US-Mexico borderlands as well as personal vignettes. Martinez has published two books of poetry, Breathing Between the Lines (1997), and The Devil’s Workshop (2002). She also co-authored a bilingual children’s book, Grandpa’s Magic Tortilla, with Rosalee Montoya. 

Denise Chávez is a performance writer, novelist, playwright, teacher and cultural activist based in Las Cruces. Her books include A Taco Testimony: Meditations on Family, Food and Culture, the novels Loving Pedro Infante and Face of an Angel, and a short story collection, The Last of the Menu Girls. An actor, Chávez has performed her one-woman shows, Novena Narrativas and El Muro/The Wall: A Chorus of Immigrant Women’s Voices throughout the U.S. She has also published a children’s book, La Mujer Que Sabía El Idioma de Los Animales/The Woman Who Knew the Language of the Animals. Her current children’s book projects include: The Two Delfina’s, La Hermana Ying y La Hermana Yang and Chano’s Dream. Her most recent novel, The King and Queen of Comezón, a border mystery love story won the International Latino Book Award in Fiction as well as the Indie Book Award Silver Prize. Chávez currently is the director of Museo de la Gente, a Cultural Resource and Archival Center in Las Cruces and Casa Camino Real, a bookstore and art gallery. 

Mari Simbaña, born in Ecuador, writes about native communities and migration. Our community partner for this reading is Encuentro, serving Latino immigrant families. 

516 WORDS is made possible with lead support from Beyond Poetry, LLC. Founded in 2012, Beyond Poetry LLC is focused on creating intersectional and interdisciplinary creative experiences in community. It has brought poetry performances and writing workshops to schools, jails, hospitals, churches, nursing homes, colleges and at least five countries. Building community one word at a time. This event is in honor of Margarita Salazar de Kavanaugh and Anna K. Sandoval. The exhibition The US-Mexico Border: Place, Imagination, and Possibility is on view at 516 ARTS and Albuquerque Museum through April 14/15. 

Image: Denise Chávez, Demetria Martinez, Mari Simbaña