The first poetry book from one of the most distinctive voices in South Texas, Unwoven is an unflinchingly honest exploration of Chicana womanhood along the border, a scattering of quetzal feathers and jade that celebrate the achingly lovely paradox of life on the edges and in the middle. Playful, artful, and wholly memorable, these poems prove Erika Garza-Johnson deserving of her enduring moniker: La Poeta Power.

With Unwoven, VAO Publishing launches its new FlowerSong Books imprint, dedicated to the publication of fantastic poetry from the borderlands.

Unwoven front cover


Along the River 2

On November 7, VAO Publishing released Along the River 2: More Voices from the Río Grande. Edited by David Bowles and with a cover designed by painter Noé Vela, Along the River features poetry and prose by a host of local talent.

This volume is the second in a series of annual anthologies that provide a forum for the unique vision of regional writers. Proceeds from its sale will be used by Valley Artistic Outreach to continue providing art camps for children and promoting artistic expression throughout the Valley.

Description: Thirty-nine voices mingle like the currents of the great river, flowing into deep narrative resacas and rushing from lyrical reservoirs. Just as the Río Grande wends its way through basins, bosques, deserts, fields—so these poems, stories and essays explore the variegated quiltwork of border culture, streaming somberly through the darkness and coruscating in the light.

AR2 front 2

Yolanda López
Yaresy Salinas
Vanessa Brown
Valeria Espinoza
Sylvia Pérez
Rossy Lima
Rolando Villafuerte
Robert Paul Moreira
Rob Johnson
Rachel Vela
Nina Medrano
Maria D. Piedra
Minnie Vásquez
Michael Pacheco
Linda Romero
Leopoldo Farías
Kristin Keith
Kathy Trenfield Raines
Katherine Hoerth
Juventino Manzano
Juan González
José Hernández Díaz
Héctor Gómez
G.G. García
Érika Saíd
Erika Garza
Edward Vidaurre
Diana Elizondo
Daniel Tyx
Claudia D. Hernández
Clarrissia Nerio
Christopher Carmona
César de León
Brianda Salinas
Angelo Bowles
Amalia Ortiz
Alejandro Cabada
Alan Oak

Book Details
Paperback: 243 pages
Publishing Date: November 17, 2012
Language: English and Spanish
ISBN-10: 0615723764
ISBN-13: 978-0615723761
Product Dimensions: 5.25 X 8

Book Availability
The anthology will be available through Amazon.com as a trade paperback or an eBook. Additionally, eBook versions will be available through Barnes & Noble and the Apple iBookstore. Along the River 2 will eventually be available for order at most national bookstores. To preview and purchase online, navigate to the book’s Amazon page by clicking here.7

VAO Celebrates Poetry #2: No, Trovador

To celebrate National Poetry Month, we will be posting some of the many outstanding poems from Along the River. Here is the poem for which Verónica Sandoval took second prize.

No, Trovador

No, Trovador
I will not let you sing to me about love
I will not be another conquest de guitarra y amores de México
Yo no soy tu Amorcito Corazón
Tu muñeca de cuerda
I will not wait que salga la luna
I do not need your cositas bonitas
Quiero ser como Chavela Vargas
Quiero ser La Negra
Quiero nunca tener que engrasar las ejes de mi carreta
Quiero amar
a mi manera.

-Verónica Sandoval

VAO Celebrates Poetry #1: McAllen Morning

To celebrate National Poetry Month, we will be posting some of the many outstanding poems from Along the River. First up we have the poem for which Richard D. Givens took first prize.


Sunrise in McAllen…
A brochure flutters along the curb
Behind the lone street sweeper
Making the only strip of moisture the day will see.
The colored pamphlet flashes photos of citrus,
Early landmarks, airlines at Miller Field,
Places to dine under a palmed paradise.

Rings of activity yawn with firing burners.
The waft of tortillas spread from the inner core
As pesos for migas are traded in serious Tex-Mex.
Pigeons flap from phone poles to browse the park.

The surrounding commercial district has not yet begun.
Managers and staff will magically appear at their desks
In an hour. Meanwhile, Mexican Yellowheads make noisy
Lime-green circles in an air race around the library.

Farther out, neighborhoods void themselves of children in cars;
A moment’s stop at school, then on to work, wherever.
Through the windshield, receding orchards pass.
Four-wheeled concert halls blare Selena, Reba, Smashing Pumpkins.

At the outer ring, retirees in plaid shorts exit new homes
To fiddle in the garden, or to meet other pensioners for golf.
The driveways are white, the trees are small,
The early air is filled with saws and the smell of pine lumber.

Holding the rings together are streets and phone wires
But more importantly, places to meet and unite in ideas
Of interest to both languages and cultures;
At school, church, the museum, Luby’s, El Posito, H.E.B.,
From North and South to McAllen; only a river divides.

Richard D. Givens