OverviewWinner:2015 Writers' League of Texas Book Awards, Poetry Discovery PrizeRant. Chant. Chisme. is the debut collection of poetry by south Texas native Amalia Ortiz, featuring writing from the first decade of her career. Readers will get a taste of life on the border from the perspective of a young woman of color struggling to write herself into existence. These poems introduce a unique new transcultural feminist viewpoint as the poems call for social and political change along the borderlands. Ortiz, an award-winning performance poet known for her dynamic delivery style, relinquishes control of her writing to the reader, but not without first imparting the theatrical stage directions stated in the book's title, which commands readers to recite these poems aloud in a spoken word celebration exploring culture, music, and place while encouraging the reader to embrace diversity and find their own storytelling voice.
Reviews"This whole book stands up and dances off the page. It sings, it chants, it howls, it performs. " —Carmen Tafolla, author, Sonnets and Salsa and This River Here
"This brilliant performance poet weaves her second- and third-generation experience with a deep understanding of her parents' first-generation struggles and the sharp edge her own. . . . This is a book worth having." —Margaret Randall, author, As If the Empty Chair: Poems for the Disappeared
"Rant. Chant. Chisme. is suited for the tumult of our time. Ortiz both honors great Tejano writers of the past and forges her own style. An activist, actor and writer, she's compiled many of the pieces that she's performed and perfected on different stages — from academic conferences to San Antonio poetry slams to HBO's Def Poetry Jam. Of course, it's always a challenge to keep performance pieces still enough for the printed page. To do so, Ortiz calls on the poetic forms of Tafolla and Tejano legend Raul Salinas. She breaks new ground by covering topics from Elvis to Coltrane to eight-liner slot machines." —Tony Diaz, Texas Observer
"National slam poetry phenom Amalia Ortiz proves that the improvisational jazz and rap riffs of the slam stage can in fact translate to the page in unapologetic, electric and rich poetry. Ortiz might best be known for her turns on the HBO 'Def Poetry' show. She's the first Latina poet ever to reach the final round at the National Poetry Slam. This robust volume features 40 poems in four movements. The voices are bold; they rail against social and political injustice in the borderlands . . . . Ortiz is a storyteller, and there is no use in attempting a differentiation between slam poetry and the poems in this volume. For Ortiz, the criteria are the same — legitimate and beyond the reproach of purists." —Yvette Benavides, San Antonio Express-News
Author BiographyAmalia Ortiz is an award-winning performance poet, an actress, and an activist. She was featured on three seasons of Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry on HBO, and on the NAACP Image Awards program on Fox. She is the creator of the one woman stage show Otra Esa on the Public Transit and stars in the award-winning independent film Speeder Kills. She is the first Latina poet to ever reach the final round at the National Poetry Slam, where her team took the second place prize. She lives in Harlingen, Texas.