Thursday, October 23, 2008

Palabra Pura: Soul Food Worthy of Support

While his note is geared to Palabra Pura poets, I would ask gente in the Chicago area and elsewhere to read this, give generously, and support what is a seminal Latino poetry venue. Palabra Pura feeds the soul, celebrates our luminaries, makes poetry accessible for our community in a way that no other literary institution does. For more info about who and what Palabra Pura is, read:

October 16, 2008

Dear Lisa:

As a board member of the Guild Complex in Chicago, last year I had the privilege of weighing in on the discussion that produced this re-vamped mission statement:

The Guild Complex, a community-based literary organization, presents and supports diverse, divergent and emerging voices through innovative programs including performances and readings. We look at literary culture and ask, “What’s missing?”

In the Fall of 2005, then board member and current board president Mike Puican answered that question (“What’s missing?”) in the following way: “There are no poetry reading venues in Chicago that deliberately and systematically welcome Latino and Latina poets.” So when Mike called me one morning and asked if I would be interested in helping create a Latino poetry reading series, one of my most enriching professional collaborations began. You know what I am talking about because you are a PALABRA PURA alum. And I am writing to more than thirty
of you—our PALABRA PURA familia!

As the Guild Complex moves forward in planning season four (2009), we are faced, as you can imagine, with growing challenges. We’ve received funding in the past from the Illinois Council on the Humanities and the Joyce Foundation. And yet we have come to understand that in order for this series to have long-term viability, we are going to have to tap individual giving, as well.

And it occurred to me: who better understands and, I hope, appreciates this series than those poets who have read in it? Who better understands that PALABRA PURA aims to promote community between poets, specifically through our pre-reading salon dinners, in addition to providing a Chicago venue for Latino and Latina poets to share their work?

We have ten readings per year where we invite a “visiting poet” from outside Chicago. With me so far? We are asking you to look at it this way: We are asking you to donate $5 to each of those ten visiting poets. 

If you can think about this in terms of giving future Palabra Pura readers $5 each, it will go a long way towards our being able to keep offering honoraria, in addition, of course, to travel and lodging.

And here’s the part I like the most: it’s a model for increasing sustainability. Next year, at the conclusion of season four, we’ll be joined by more PALABRA PURA alums, so that each year your $50 donation will be increased (if we remain faithful) by at least $500. It’s as if we were all forming a living and growing endowment for the future of the series. 

But don’t get me wrong: the annual budget for PALABRA PURA is much much larger than the $1500 or so I hope to raise from all of you. But it is an excellent and meaningful start at being more intentional about tapping individual giving. Also: future potential funders will be impressed if we can say that former participants in the series are among our most faithful supporters.

And finally: your $50 donation buys you an annual membership to the Guild Complex. If you have any questions about what a Guild “membership” means, please ask (this letter is already too long!) And it goes without saying that if the spirit moves you to donate more than $50 please do so since I imagine and understand that there may be personal economies who can’t give as much as $50. It also goes without saying that any amount, however modest, would be greatly

In a nutshell: I am asking you to consider making a tax-deductible donation of $50 towards a program you were a part of and, we trust, was a meaningful experience for you. You can make your donation by writing a check to “The Guild Complex.” Please write in the memo line “Palabra Pura.” Alternatively, you can make the donation online through pay pal by going to the Guild website ( ). We only ask that you let us know if you have gone this route as we would like to keep track of the number of PALABRA PURA alums who have contributed. If you opt to send a check, the mailing address is:

Guild Complex
P.O. Box 478880
Chicago, IL 60647-9998

Again, please feel free to contact me, or Ellen Wadey, the Guild’s Executive Director, if you have any questions.

Thank you so much,


Francisco Aragón
Co-curator, PALABRA PURA
Board member, The Guild Complex


6:00 PM - 9:00 PM,
Tuesday, October 28
Reception and private viewing including guided tours of
La Vida Sin Fin - Day of the Dead 2008
National Museum of Mexican Art
1852 W. 19th St., Chicago
Plus a special program featuring
Jose Cruz, Founder and President of Immigration PAC,
speaking about the immigration issue in the upcoming elections

$30 in advance; $40 at the door
includes reception, private viewing and tours
For advance ticket price, payment by noon, October 27

On-street parking

Please visit the website to RSVP

Featured Event

NALAC Regional Arts Training Workshop
November 14-15, 2008
Los Angeles, CA

at The New LATC
514 South Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

HOSTED BY: The New LATC, CONTRA-TIEMPO, Floricanto Dance Theater, Olin Theater Presenters, PALABRA A Magazine of Chicano & Latino Literary Art.

The National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC) will convene a Regional Arts Training Workshop in Los Angeles entitled “Creative Responders: Latino Art in Action Re-Affirming and Transforming the Future.”

The Regional Workshop is a forum for dialogue, professional development and technical assistance for the Latino arts and cultural field. The context of this gathering is focused on empowering Latino artists and arts and cultural organizations through ideas, solutions and strategies for sustainability.

We invite you to join other Latino artists, arts and cultural leaders, organizers, educators and activists in the Los Angeles, area for this rewarding two day meeting that will include presentations, workshops, dialogue, performances and exhibits.

Regional Workshop Tracks include:

• Resource Development and Capacity Building
• Leadership Development and Re-generation
• Establishing Relationships with Funders and Navigating Government Funding
• Arts Toolkit: Marketing Your Work and Reaching New Audiences
• Nuestras Casas: Development of Cultural Facilities
• Transnational Re-Connections: Immigration, Economic Justice & Social Impact
• Comerciantes Culturales: Organizing Communities through Arts Festiva
• Taking Latino Art and Culture into the Classroom
• Creative Responders: Re-Shaping the 21st Century Latino Narrative
• Latino Arts Town Hall Meeting

Made possible with the support of the National Endowment for the Arts; the JPMorgan Chase Foundation; the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; the Ford Foundation;Southwest Airlines; MetLife Foundation; City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs; The Center for Cultural Innovation in Los Angeles and individual donors, volunteers and NALAC members.

Los Angeles Host Committee: The New LATC, CONTRA-TIEMPO, Floricanto Dance Theater, Olin Theater Presenters, PALABRA A Magazine of Chicano & Latino Literary Art.

Click Here to read the October 2008 e-Boletin and find more information on this and other exciting exhibits, events, funding opportunities, resources and member happenings.

Direct Link:

Join NALAC today at to stay informed of important announcements and opportunities!

Support NALAC!

Click Here to make a secure tax-deductible contribution via Network for Good and help NALAC continue providing valuable programs and services to Latino artists and arts organizations across the country.

1208 Buena Vista Street
San Antonio, TX 78207
PH: 210.432.3982
FAX: 210.432.3934

Encounter, Encourage, Envision…tu Arte en NALAC

You are currently subscribed to NALAC’s e-Boletín, the electronic newsletter of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture. If you no longer wish to receive notices from NALAC, please email with the subject heading “Please remove from e-Boletín.”


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The National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC) is dedicated to the preservation, development and promotion of the cultural and artistic expressions of the diverse Latino populations of the United States. Through this effort, NALAC is committed to the continuing struggle for the elimination of racism, sexism, ageism and discrimination against gay, lesbian and physically challenged populations. The objective is to recognize and support the varied standards of excellence grounded in the aesthetics and traditions of our root cultures.

NALAC receives generous support from the Ford Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, the MetLife Foundation, Southwest Airlines, Heineken USA, Texas Commission on the Arts, The Tobin Endowment, City of San Antonio Office of Cultural Affairs, Tucson Pima Arts Council, San Antonio Area Foundation, Our Lady of the Lake University, NALAC members, individual donors and volunteers.

Lisa Alvarado

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