Quirky. But cool. That is the only way to describe Callaloo’s conference Callaloo Salutes Texas Writers that took place earlier this week. On Monday, I drive up to College Station with Hosam Aboul-Ela who’s also on the Tuesday afternoon panel with me, led by Rich Levy. It’s my first time heading out that way even though I’ve been in Texas for 15+ years.
Dinner is at a winery. Sandra Cisneros, who’s not in the anthology, drops by for a meal, and Ed Hirsch opens his keynote address by telling us that Texas has more than 500 birds that migrate through the state. Charles R. is amazingly warm. Just from my first encounter with him at the dinner, I can understand why people arrive from all corners of the country to be at College Station for the gathering. And the more I talk to Charles R.–that day and the next–the better I understand why Callaloo is what it is today.
Hopefully, VBB and I will have a chance to work with him in the near future. Through the 36 hours I spend in College Station, I meet many poets and writers that I know VBB will work with soon: Norma Cantú, Sahsa Pimentel Chacón, Daniel Chacón (who I interviewed many years ago for Arte Público Press on KPFT), and Rolando Hinojasa. The conversations shift from issues of identity, home, and where writers of color place ourselves in Texas and much beyond. It will resonate with me for sometime…
In the background, there is of course, A&M, and perhaps the reasons why I haven’t ventured that way before.