CantoMundo is a national poetry organization that cultivates a community of Latinx poets through workshops, symposia, public readings, and publications.
History & Vision
Founded around a kitchen table in 2009 by Norma E. Cantú, Celeste Guzmán Mendoza, Pablo Miguel Martínez, Deborah Paredez, and Carmen Tafolla, CantoMundo ["Song-World"] is a celebration of the worlds of song within Latinx communities, from its elders to its youth.
CantoMundo is dedicated to serving Latinx poets and poetry across regional, aesthetic, ethnic, racial, linguistic, and gendered spectrums. Our work is motivated by the understanding that Latinx voices, despite their historic silencing, have always resounded within the chorus of American poetry. Since our founding we have fostered supportive communities and professional networks among hundreds of Latinx poets who have, in turn, created support systems for other writers of color in their own hometowns, established their own publishing venues, and secured major book prizes and positions as poets laureates, editors, and contest judges. These CantoMundistas are enriching and reshaping the landscape of the poetry of the Americas.
CantoMundo's dedication to Latinx poets and poetry among a diverse range of Latinx communities seeks to nurture generations of bi- and multi-lingual writers and readers. Since 2010, we have hosted annual retreats and regional readings and workshops and have partnered with organizations focused on immigrant rights, veteran support, and young writers to bring poetry to new communities and to bring new voices and aesthetics to American poetry. CantoMundo is currently housed at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University.
NORMA ELIA CANTÚ
Advisory Board Member, CantoMundo Founder
Norma Elia Cantú is an award-winning poet and fiction writer as well as an internationally recognized scholar of borderlands literatures and cultures. She holds the Murchison Distinguished Professorship of the Humanities at Trinity University and is Professor Emerita in English at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her most recent publications include the novel, Cabañuelas, and a poetry collection: Meditación Fronteriza: Poems of Love, Life, and Labor, along with the co-edited anthologies: Teaching Gloria Anzaldúa: Pedagogies and Practices for our Classrooms and Communities and meXicana Fashions: Politics, Self-Adornment, and Identity Construction. Soon to-be-published is the anthology Chicana Portraits: Critical Biographies of Twelve Chicana Writers and her single-authored book Fiestas in Laredo: Matachines, Quinceañeras, and the George Washington’s Birthday Celebration. She currently serves on numerous boards including the Conjunto de Nepantleras of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, the board of Macondo Writers Workshop and is a founding member of CantoMundo.
PABLO MIGUEL MARTÍNEZ
Advisory Board Member, CantoMundo Founder
Pablo Miguel Martínez’s collection of poems, Brazos, Carry Me (Kórima Press), received the 2013 PEN Southwest Book Award for Poetry. His chapbook, titled Cuent@, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2016. Pablo’s work, which has been widely published and anthologized, has received support from the Artist Foundation of San Antonio, the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation, and the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture. He is a Co-Founder of CantoMundo. Pablo has taught English and Creative Writing at Our Lady of the Lake University, The Language and Culture Institute at Virginia Tech, Lone Star College-North Harris, and the University of Louisville. He has also worked as an administrator, grant-writer, and technical writer in the not-for-profit sector. Currently, he lives in New England, where he is at work on a hybrid-genre memoir.
Advisory Board Member, CantoMundo Faculty
Willie Perdomo is an East Harlem native. His recent books are collective love letters to Down These Mean Streets, Manchild in the Promised Land, Boogaloo Blues, Cane, Enter the Dragon, and Cooley High. He is the author of Smoking Lovely: The Remix, The Crazy Bunch, The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon, and Where a Nickel Costs of Dime. Winner of Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship, the Cy Twombly Award for Poetry, the New York City Book Award, and a PEN Open Book Award, Perdomo was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award. He is co-editor of the anthology, Latínext, and his work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, African Voices, and Best American Poetry 2019. He teaches at Phillips Exeter Academy, and was appointed State Poet of New York, 2021-2023.
Carmen Tafolla is an award-winning poet and children's author, performance artist, speaker, and university professor from San Antonio, Texas. She was named State Poet Laureate of Texas in 2015, is a CantoMundo Co-Founder, and in 2018 became the first Latina to become President of the Texas Institute of Letters. The author of more than 30 books and Professor Emeritus of Transformative Children's Literature at UT San Antonio, she is the recipient of numerous awards including the Americas Award, two Tomás Rivera Book Awards, six International Latino Book Awards, and the Art of Peace Award.
CELESTE GUZMÁN MENDOZA
Celeste Guzmán Mendoza is a poet, playwright and essayist born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. She is the co-founder of CantoMundo and co-directed the organization for ten years with Deborah Paredez. She has participated in the Macondo Writers Workshop and the Hedgebrook retreat for women writers. Guzmán Mendoza received her BA in Theatre and English Literature from Barnard College, Columbia University, her MFA in Poetry from the Bennington Writers Seminars and her PhD in Higher Education Leadership and Policy from the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of Beneath the Halo (Wings Press 2013), and her work has been widely published and anthologized.
Deborah Paredez is a poet, performance scholar, and cultural critic. She is the author of the critical study, Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory (Duke 2009), and of the poetry volumes This Side of Skin (Wings Press 2002) and Year of the Dog (BOA Editions 2020). Her poetry and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, Boston Review, Poetry, Poet Lore, and elsewhere. She lives in New York City where she teaches creative writing and ethnic studies at Columbia University. She is the Co-Founder of CantoMundo and served as its Co-Director from 2009-2019.
Jacqueline Balderrama is the author of the poetry collections Now in Color (winner of the Perugia Press Prize 2020) and the chapbook Nectar and Small (Finishing Line Press 2019). She serves as a poetry editor for Iron City Magazine and has been involved in the Letras Latinas literary initiative. Currently, she’s a Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing Fellow in Residence leading the Thousand Languages Project and a Clinical Assistant Professor at Arizona State University. She is the inaugural Director in our partnership at the Piper Center.