Voices from the Borderlands

By Emily QuintanillaApril 24, 2024

Voices from the Borderlands
The recent outpouring of literary works from Latin America leads Emily Quintanilla to unearth Dick Cluster’s profile of Texas’s own FlowerSong Press and its publisher, Edward Vidaurre.

As a Latina, I am excited by the so-called “second ‘Latin American boom’” happening in the literature space right now. In the wake of this boom, I find it a good time to revisit independent presses and publishers that have shown a consistent effort to empower underrepresented authors in the United States and beyond.

In 2022, Dick Cluster brought to our attention FlowerSong Press, an independent publisher based in McCallen, Texas. While McCallen—a small town of just over 144,000 people—seems like an unlikely hub, Cluster assures us that it hosts a “vibrant Latinx-Tejano literary community.” Still, when McCallen’s former poet laureate Edward Vidaurre became the press’s publisher, he was already used to finding inspiration in unlikely places. Vidaurre’s relationship with literature and poetry began with “hanging out at his uncle’s bookstore in Santa Ana, El Salvador” and reading on his two-hour commute from Boyle Heights to Beverly Hills.

Cluster notes, “Alongside his own work, Vidaurre took on what he saw as the equally or more important task of promoting other poets of color outside the publishing mainstream.” To this day, FlowerSong Press remains dedicated to publishing “essential verse from, about, and through the borderlands. The voices of those from Latin America, the U.S.A. and all over the world.” While Vidaurre argues that there is “a real urgency” to get work by “Tejanos, Mexicanos, Latinx, [and] people along the border” out there, he maintains an open mind as a publisher: “[I]f I love your poetry, I want to publish you.” After all, “If we don’t pay attention, we’re going to lose out on something special.”

This month, FlowerSong Press released its 100th publication, Huckleberry Juju and Other Narrative Spells, a collection by the press’s founder, David Bowles.

LARB Contributor

Emily Quintanilla recently graduated from the University of Southern California with a BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. She worked as an LARB copydesk intern during the spring of 2024.


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