My name is Carlos Contreras. I have been twice recognized as a national champion performance poet. I got my start in the area of competitive spoken word, or Slam Poetry. These days, I live and work in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Albuquerque is where I grew up and where I plan on growing old. I work as a local educator, who leads writing workshops in the adult jail facility at the Metropolitan Detention Center, at the same time I teach all levels of high school English. I love my job. One of the things that I love about who I work with and for, is that those I work with see the passion I have for helping our community, and so yearly I am given time off to also provide services to the National Hispanic Cultural Center. At the NHCC I play host to the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s Voces program, a writing institute for youth. The Voces Writing Institute was awarded a Bravos Award for Excellence in Literary Arts in 2009. I have been very blessed to be given the job as lead facilitator of the Voces program. Over the twelve year stint that the program has enjoyed at the NHCC, I have held jobs in a number of capacities. I originally came to the program as a student, in its initial year. Now I help young people whose shoes I was once in, find their own voices, their own messages, and their own point of delivery. I cherish this opportunity because it allows me to give back to an institution that has given so much to me. It is experiences like that of teaching at such a young age, and working at the NHCC with the Voces program, that garnered me the honor of being awarded a 2012 Bravos Award, as an “Emerging Creative.” As a young writer, driven to succeed and help the community I live and work in I have dedicated myself to change in my community by way of the spoken and written word. Having been a member of 8 spoken word poetry teams at the college and professional level – I have used spoken word as a tool for growth, advancement, and survival. I have visited more than 50 elementary, middle, high school, and college campuses throughout my poetry career. I have also been the guest of and currently am the poet in residence at a correctional facility (MDC). While working at the facility in the last 7 months of 2011-2012, I developed the JustWrite program. JustWrite has developed from a workshop, to a writing exchange, to a partnered project of mine with Diahndra Grill. Now not only is it an exchange between college students and inmates, but it is an exchange between numerous universities, and correctional facilities. It has its own website now: www.nowrongjustwrite.org , and hosts bits of: audio, video, and text on the site – to present opportunities for: growth, and change, in the lives’ of our participants inside and outside of incarceration. We look forward to you keeping an eye on us, and we will keep you abreast to what we do. WE are very thankful for the partnerships and facilitation being leant to this project – and I as an individual am continually thankful for the opportunities I am being given to help change my community, and other communities, by way of art.
Carlos Antonio Contreras
Bachelor of Arts, University of New Mexico, 2007. Major in English, Minor in Sociology
Employment in Education and Workshop Facilitation
Part-Time Professor, Chicano Studies Program, University of New Mexico: Fall 2012, Spring 2013, and scheduled for Fall of 2013; Writers In the Community Co-Taught alongside Centennial Poet, Levi Romero
Currently Co-facilitating: 2012, “JustWrite” : an ten-month, to date, poetry, journaling, performance and “dialogue/poetry exchange project” in cooperation with Wendy Jason, and Jiva Manske of Georgetown University, and Dhiandra Grill.
Six-month Poetry Project Facilitator: JustWrite with: Chiquitos Grandes, Vista Grande Elementary School, Rio Rancho, NM Spring 2012 – culminating with a chapbook of youth writers’ work.
Co-facilitator: 2011, “JustWrite” : Spring writing project, in cooperation with Tierra Amarilla Correctional Facility, Rio Arriba County – journaling, performance and poetry project, culminating in a chapbook of inmate writing.
Currently employed as an English teacher at Gordon Bernell Charter School’s “Roma” Campus, Albuquerque, NM 2010-11 & 2011-12 (currently employed by GBCS)
Lead Facilitator of four-week Voces Writing and Arts Institute at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, 2003-present. The Voces program is a writing intensive art camp catering to young authors 13-19 from around the state of New Mexico.
Educational Assistant, Gordon Bernell Charter School, Albuquerque, NM. July 2008-2010.
Poetry Coach & Mentor, Esperanza Charter High School, Albuquerque, NM, August 2008-present
Facilitator of eight-week workshop at the Native American Community Academy, Fall 2008
Poetry Coach & Mentor, Robert F. Kennedy Charter High School, Albuquerque NM, August 2005-August 2008
Freelance Writer, ABQ Arts and Entertainment Jan 2012-present
Server, Flying Star Café, Albuquerque, NM, August 2005-2009
Server, Red Robin, Albuquerque NM, August 2004-August 2005
Countertop Fabricator, Darrant Distributing, Albuquerque NM. August 2003-August 2004
Honors and Awards
2013 Selection for TEDXABQ Education – and independently organized “TED” event – in cooperation with Ted.com – a place for spreading good ideas: “JustWrite: The Poetry in Each of Us.”
2012 Selection for TEDXABQ – an independently organized “TED” event – in cooperation with Ted.com – a place for spreading good ideas: “The Poetry In Each Of Us” as my topic
Featured artist/educator on PBS Public Square, 2012 – Topic: Art and Education as it relates to At Risk Youth
Albuquerque Arts Alliance, Creative Albuquerque, Bravos Award as “Emerging Creative” 2012
Albuquerque Arts Alliance, Bravos Award, for Excellence in Literary Arts, 2009, awarded to the VOCES program
New Mexico Hispano Entertainers Recipient, Poet of the Year 2007
University of New Mexico National Championship Poetry Slam Team, member, 2006 (four-year member of UNM Slam Teams competing at National Championships, including teams that finished first, second and fourth)
National Poetry Slam Championship Team, member, August 2005 (five time member of Albuquerque Adult Professional Teams competing at National Slam Championships.)
College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational, Finalist Team member, April 2006
College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational, Finalist Team member, April 2005
Freelance Writer for ABQ Arts and Entertainment with articles Jan 2012-present (monthly)
“Communion in the Desert (A Trip to the New Mexico History Museum),” El Palacio, Spring 2011 (Vol. 118, no. 1) pp. 28-29 (commissioned poem).
Interview with Shelley Thompson and Cynthia Baughman, El Palacio, Spring 2011 (Vol. 118, no. 1) pp. 22-27.
“These People,” Word Catalyst Magazine, September 2009, Volume 3, Number 2
A Man in Pieces: Poems for my Father (Culture Lab Books, Albuquerque: 2008)
“Human Zoo,” “You,” “Common Ground,” anthologized in Mikaela Renz & Shelle VanEtten-Luaces, editors, de Veras?: Young Voices from the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2008
Anthologized in Susan McAllister, Don McIver, Mikaela Renz and Daniel S. Solis, editors, A Bigger Boat: The Unlikely Success of the Albuquerque Poetry Slam Scene. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2008
Anthologized in Earthships: A New Mecca Poetry Collection, Self-Published by Zachary Kluckman, 2007.
Critical Articles, Reviews, and Press Coverage
“Unique Writing Program Decreases Violence at the County Jail” KOB4 News, ABQ, NM, Feb 4th, 2013, http://www.kob.com/article/stories/S2927455.shtml?cat=0
“When Addiction Hits Home” Latino USA on NPR – Featured Artist: February 2013, http://www.futuromediagroup.org/lusa/
“For Inmates and Undergrads, Poetry Fosters Understanding” The Hoya, Georgetown University Student Newspaper : http://www.thehoya.com/news/for-inmates-and-undergrads-poetry-fosters-understanding-1.2779247#.TzqfW5i4LzI
Featured artist in “Why Local Poetry Matter,” Cover Story in Local IQ, March 17, 2010
Featured Cover Artist, Albuquerque Arts, April 2010, Volume 14, Number 4, story p.10
Featured Cover Artist, Albuquerque Arts, April 2009, Volume 13, Number 3, story p. 7
Featured artist in “Teachers Take a Lesson in Slam Poetry,” online story, suite101.com.
Featured Artist in “Performance Preview: Talking ‘Bout a Revolution,” Weekly Alibi, January 2010, Volume 20, Number 1. http://alibi.com/art/35315/Talking-Bout-a-Revolution.html
Featured Artist in “Hip Hop Provides Basis for Dialogue,” Albuquerque Journal, January 2010, Venue Section. http://www.abqjournal.com/venue/09922441venue01-09-11.htm
Featured Artist in “Spread the Words,” The Alibi, April 2011, Arts Literature Section. http://alibi.com/art/36252/Spread-the-Words.html
Featured Artist(s) in “Urban Verbs Hip Hop Conservatory Theatre,” Local IQ, June 2011, Arts Section. http://www.localiq.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2017&Itemid=55
Featured Artist(s) in “Personalities,” Albuquerque The Magazine, August 2011, Personalities Section. http://www.abqthemag.com/current/departments.php#f5
Featured Author “The Sunday Poem: Hakim Bellamy and Carlos Contreras Welcome to the Mineshaft,” www.dukecityfix.com, http://www.dukecityfix.com/profiles/blogs/the-sunday-poem-hakim-bellamy-1
Guest Presenter, Smithsonian Museum’s Latino Institute, Young Ambassadors Program: June 2013
CNM Speaks, Community Reading: Central New Mexico Community College: February 2013
Featured Artist, New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs Annual Gathering, National Hispanic Cultural Center, May 19, 2010
Guest presenter and participant at the National Latino Writers Conference ’09, National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque
Featured Poet, 516 Words Poetry Reading at 516 Arts, May 15, 2009
Visiting Poet, Las Cruces High School, performing in seven classes, October 15, 2007
Guest Poet at Nuyorican Poets Café in New York, New York, 2005
Guest Performer at Latino Writers Conference in New Mexico, at National Hispanic Cultural Center, May 21st, 2008
Guest Performer at Latino Writers Conference in New Mexico, at National Hispanic Cultural Center, May 20th, 2009
Guest performer, Church of Beethoven Fall 2008, Albuquerque, NM
Featured Performer, Party with El Palacio August 2011, Santa Fe, NM
Guest Host, Big Read Slam Poetry Event, Loma Colorado Library, Rio Rancho, NM, October 20th, 2011.
Guest Panelist, Albuquerque Cultural Conference, Albuquerque, NM, August 26-28th, 2011.
Lead Workshop Facilitator, Tuscon Unified School District, Tuscon, AZ, Sept 17-19th, 2011.
Visiting Poet with Performances at the following libraries, schools and correctional facilities, 2001- present:
Rio Rancho Public Library, Rio Rancho, NM
Robert F. Kennedy Charter School, Albuquerque, NM
Caesar Chavez Community School, Albuquerque, NM
South Valley Academy, Albuquerque, NM
La Academia De Esperanza Charter School, Albuquerque, NM
John Adams Middle School, Albuquerque, NM
Jimmy Carter Middle School, Rio Rancho, NM
Rio Rancho High School, Rio Rancho, NM
Chrysalis Academy, Taos, NM
Albuquerque High School, Albuquerque, NM
Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM
Highland High School, Albuquerque, NM
Native American Charter Academy, Albuquerque, NM
Amy Biehl High School, Albuquerque, NM
YDDC, Youth Correctional Facility, Albuquerque, NM
Metropolitan Detention Center, Albuquerque, NM
Menaul School, Albuquerque, NM
Copper Canyon High School, Glendale, AZ
Buena High School, Sierra Vista, AZ
Las Cruces High School, Las Cruces, NM
Santa Fe High School, Santa Fe, NM
Capital High School, Santa Fe, NM
McCurdy High School, Espanola, NM
Gordon Bernell Charter School, Albuquerque, NM
Media Arts Collaborative Charter School, Albuquerque, NM
West Mesa High School, Albuquerque, NM
Reginald Chavez Elementary School, Albuquerque, NM
Alameda Elementary School, Albuquerque, NM
Cupertino High School, Cupertino, CA
ACE Charter School, Albuquerque NM
Cleveland High School, Rio Rancho NM
Cactus High School, Phoenix AZ
Visiting Poet with Performances at the following colleges and universities 2001- present:
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM
Central New Mexico Community College, Albuquerque, NM
Denver University, Denver, Colorado
St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY
Fort Collins College, Durango, CO
Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI
University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
University of Texas El Paso, El Paso, TX
Texas State University, San Marcos, TX
University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Westchester University, Westchester, PA
San Juan Community College, Farmington, NM
Eastern New Mexico Community College, Portales, NM
University of California at Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz CA
Service to the Artistic Community
Curator and host of : I’ll Drink To That, a local “brewery touring” poetry and music series, April 2012 – present – an event that attempts to foster community while supporting local businesses, supporting local artists
Lead Facilitator of JustWrite Project MDC 2012 – a journaling, poetry, and writing exchange with adult aged inmates, and Georgetown University Students.
Lead Facilitator of JustWrite Project, Vista Grande Elemenatary, 2012, a journaling, poetry, and performance project with 25 fifth graders.
Lead Facilitator of National Hispanic Cultural Center’s, Bravos Award Winning, Voces Writing Institute, 2007-present, involved since 2001, in numerous capacities of this 10 year program.
Sponsor 2012 New Mexico Highs School Poetry Slam Invitational, as Sole Proprietor of Immastar Productions
Host of 2010 New Mexico High School, and Middle School Invitational Team Poetry Slam, sponsored by Warehouse 508 and Albuquerque Slams
Co-founder of Essential Elements Arts Cooperative at Chroma Art Center, Albuquerque
Coach of Albuquerque Youth Slam Teams that competed at the National Slam Championships, July 2006 and July 2007
Member of Urban Verbs, a Hip Hop Conservatory and Theater group that works to show young people that Hip Hop can be a positive expression of one’s life experiences, not just a type of music, but a way of living life positively.
Co-Director of “Lucid Dreaming,” a six month theater project within the confines of the Metropolitan Detention Center in Albuquerque, NM – featured as part of Tricklock Theater Company’s 2011 Revolutions International Theater Festival
Lead facilitator of “JustWrite,” a six month poetry and journaling project, with inmates at Tierra Amarilla Detention Center, slated to begin April 2011.
Lead facilitator of 3 month afterschool writing workshop program at Cleveland High School, Rio Rancho, NM – Jan 2010
Co-founder of “Smokin’ Slam” @ Smokehouse BBQ in Rio Rancho, NM April 2010 – an all ages slam, geared toward the artistic outlet for youth in Rio Rancho community.
Lead facilitator of 4 month school day writing workshop program at La Academia De Esperanza Charter School – 2010-11 & 2011-12.
BIOS FOR STAFF WRITERS BELOW:
I am Elena Ortiz. I am a High School student in the Albuquerque area. I am also a student of the Practical Nursing Program at the Career Enrichment Center. I first began to write and perform seriously three years ago while in the Voces Writing Institute. I focus mostly on performance poetry but am never afraid to dip my pen into different styles. In fact, my favorite challenge as a writer is to step out of my comfort zone in ways that expand my horizon in writing and as a person.
Hands down, I could not be where I am right now without my many mentors and strong support. My way of paying them back for giving me my backbone is by being a mentor to others who are just beginning to write and perform. I truly believe that there is no better feeling than walking off a stage that you just spilled your guts, your poems, and ultimately your soul onto to share with others. This is important because it is in that complete state of vulnerability and openness that leads to confidence, acceptance, and believing in oneself. And those, those personal rewards, do not stay on the stage. They follow one throughout all aspects of their life, in all habits, thoughts, and perspectives.
I’m not a perfect artist. I don’t even like calling myself a writer because it makes me feel weird, but I understand and believe in what it means. Being a writer doesn’t mean your perfect. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have kinks or flaws or fears. It means that you’re brave enough to own up to your insecurities and even share them with others. And maybe, at the end of the day, your back bone will be a little bit stronger and your horizon a little bit wider.
I’m a student: a student of school, nursing, and life but mostly a student of myself as a person. Learning about whom I am and what I am here for is the drive that keeps me writing, living, and smiling. It’s who I am, and I’m proud of that.
Maddie Stroik – Bio – Staff Writer
My name is Maddie Stroik. I live with my parents in a small house with red rooms, many houseplants, and a menagerie of furry black animals. I am a mediocre violinist and cross country runner, a slightly better poet, and whether or not I am good at it, very much enjoy theatrical directing and drawing bones. As a high school senior, I am deep in the trenches of the transition from childhood to adulthood. I occupy my time filling out college applications and striving to find where I fit. It is no fun at all. As for my future prospects, it only recently occurred to me that it would be logical to study something I actually enjoy, so I predict I will double major in English, and then either biology or musicology, or something as yet unknown to me. We’ll see.
Ali Nelson – Bio – Staff Writer