Centro Victoria releases its first literary magazine, seeks to challenge ethnic, social stereotypes

Dec. 12, 2011 at 6:12 a.m.
Updated Dec. 13, 2011 at 6:13 a.m.

Centro Victoria, the nonprofit Center for Mexican American Literature and Culture at the University of Houston-Victoria, seeks to challenge ethnic, gender and social stereotypes through the release of its first literary magazine, Huizache.

The magazine, an anthology of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction literary works with a primarily Latino focus, was released in November.

"People have the misconception that there are not very many Mexican-American writers out there, and there are," said Diana Lopez, editor of the magazine. "We are going to do our part to change that perception."

Lopez said the idea to do the annual magazine emerged in Fall 2010.

The magazine is named after the huizache tree, otherwise known as the sweet acacia or weesatch.

The native Texas tree grows to about 20-feet tall and blooms bright, orange-gold flowers in the spring.

Like the invisible yet ubiquitous huizache tree, the magazine seeks to publish works by minorities who have traditionally been ignored in the literary realm.

"A lot of farmers think of (the huizache) as a weed, so they try to get rid of it and then clear them from their fields, but it keeps coming back," said Lopez. "We thought it was a good metaphor for minority voices because sometimes they get kind of mowed over, but they refuse to be silenced."

"They're not represented enough in the school system. There are some writers there, but it is not really proportional to the population," Lopez said about the few minority writers that are discussed in classrooms. "It's like they filled the quota. After reading them, it ends there."

However, Huizache features Latino and other minority authors from all over the country.

The first issue's cover was designed by famed Chicano artist César A. Martínez and includes works by Sherman Alexie, Sasha Pimentel-Chacon, Sandra Cisneros, Hettie Jones, Juan Felipe Herrera, Aracelis Girmay and Rene Perez III.

"The mission of Centro Victoria is something I can get behind," said author Rene Perez III, whose fictional short story "Letting Go a Dream" appears in the magazine. "I was eager to be a part of it, and now I'm glad that I am."

The Corpus Christi native's submission, which details the struggles of a mother who has to decide what to do with a car left behind by her son who is in prison, is part of the fairly new writer's soon-to-be-released new book, "Along These Highways."

"I hope I get people to thinking and feeling more," said Perez, 26, who primarily writes stories with settings in South Texas.

So far, Huizache has garnered attention from near and far, receiving a write-up in the renowned Poets & Writers magazine and having been added to the New York Public Library's collection.

Additionally, the magazine was showcased at the second annual Flor de Nopal Literary Festival in Austin the first weekend in December and will be presented at the prestigious Association of Writers & Writing Programs in Chicago in February.

In addition to getting Chicano studies professors to use "Huizache" in their curriculums, Lopez said Centro Victoria also hopes to publish the magazine biannually.

"Little by little, the word is getting out," said Lopez.



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