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

Launch and Reception for 2011 Anthology

On May 21, VAO Publishing held the reception/book launch for Along the River at 7:30 pm in the Douglas Clark Studio on 700 N. Main Street, McAllen. Despite the stifling heat and humidity, a large number of people attended, showing their support for the writers included in the anthology and for Valley Artistic Outreach, the parent organization of VAO Publishing. After about a half hour of mingling and refreshments (including Angélica Maldonado’s legendary margaritas), several of the poets who’d contributed to the anthology did readings. Afterward, the recipients of the three poetry and three prose prizes were announced. Copies of the anthology were on sale for $10, and they were snatched up pretty quickly.

VAO Publishing is thrilled to have had the opportunity to get the work of these worthy writers before the public eye. Along the River: An Anthology of Voices from the Río Grande Valley is VAO Publishing’s first annual collection of local authors. It features poetry and prose by a host of local talent, including the short story “The Time About the Dog” by Álvaro Rodríguez, co-screenwriter of the recent films Shorts and Machete.

Prizes were sponsored by Dr. Michael Flores, Josefina González, Maritza Park, Emily Anderson, Javier Villanueva, Luie Solís, Carol Concha, Roberto F. Loredo, Elizabeth Cásares, Betancourt Taxes, José Valdez, Abel Muñoz, Velma Rangel, and Debbie S. Rodríguez.

Refreshments were available due to the generosity of HEB.