Monthly Archives: September 2011

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sunset

The beach at Mazunte, Oaxaca, Mexico, is spectacular, especially during the winter months when it is drier, not as humid, and the water is warm and refreshing. Mazunte is an old fishing village with thatched roof cabanas, hammocks, great little seafood cafes, and a laid-back relaxing ambience. Where is it? Up the road from Zipolite between Puerto Angel and Puerto Escondido. A donde vas? A la playa!

Sunset at Mazunte II, Oaxaca, Mexico

Sunset at Mazunte III, Oaxaca, Mexico



Sunset at Mazunte IV, Oaxaca, Mexico






Where To Go Next? Oaxaca, Of Course!

Oaxaca Cultural Navigator is your GO TO source for value-added, budget travel that combines educational workshops, cultural immersion and travel.  Where to Go Next, an online travel magazine that features travel news, information and resources, including advice and tips, has just recommended Oaxaca Cultural Navigator.  Check it out!


Novelist, Poet and English Professor Robin Greene Leads Creative Writing Workshop

Robin Greene, novelist, poet, English professor, yoga practitioner, parent and wife, is a native New Yorker who is a “Southerner by choice.”  She came to Fayetteville, North Carolina in 1989, and joined the faculty at Methodist University where she is now Professor of English and Writing, the Director of the Writing Center, and Literary Editor of Longleaf Press.

Greene recently completed “Augustus: Narrative of a Slave Woman,” a  novel based on the oral history of a former Fayetteville slave compiled by the Works Progress Administration.  It expertly weaves together Greene’s imagination of what happened with the sparse written legacy recorded in the Library of Congress archives.  The book took Greene ten years to write and she included herself in the novel.  “I exist as Professor Greene, an inquisitive English professor who finds her way into an old mystery,” she says.  In a twist of events, the protagonist Sarah Louise Augustus, the former slave, emerges from the narrative to become the Professor’s teacher.

“The novel is a commentary on black feminism, race-specific reactions to historical inquiry, on sexuality and rape and the quest for identity,” explains Greene.  In 2010, she was invited to teach American Slave Narrative as Literature at a university in Romania.  And, then Norma Hawthorne selected her from an applicant pool of over 100 published writers and writing instructors to lead a creative writing retreat in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat (March 2-9, 2012) is a natural extension of Robin Greene’s reflective nature.  In Oaxaca, Mexico each spring she offers coaching, inspiration and guidance to other women writers.  “We come together as a supportive community and develop a spirit of strength that is often transformative,” Greene says.   “The life of any artist is a complicated one, and emergent writers need to learn not only how to write but also how to make their lives work.”

Novelist and Poet Robin Greene in Oaxaca, Mexico

Greene is passionate about this:  “Many writers need help to integrate the many demands on their time.  It is hard to write, edit, publish, make a living, and be an effective parent.”  Her own life experience tells her so.

When Robin Greene earned the Master’s degree in English from State University of New York at Binghamton and the Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, she was married and then became a mother. She knows what it takes to balance work, home, family, commitments, and creative endeavors.  She goes on to say that, “Today, writers also need to be able to handle Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn—plus all sorts of electronic information systems.

Her nonfiction book, Real Birth, took Greene eight years to complete. Memories of Light and Lateral Drift, two volumes of poetry, were published after years of getting up at five o’clock in the morning before her family awakened, then writing for two or three hours in solitude before turning to the responsibilities of getting children fed and ready for school.

Greene knows how difficult it is to try to negotiate the many incongruent parts of a writer’s life. Her advice:  “In order to write successfully, you must first schedule writing time. Writers must selfishly honor that time regardless of all other commitments.”  She also believes that grammar is at the core of knowing one’s craft.  She includes optional grammar mini-sessions in the writing retreat.

Writers must also have a commitment to lifelong learning.  “A writer’s education is never complete,” she says.  “Writers need feedback, need to understand the business side of writing, and show always focus on improving technique. This happens over a lifetime.  Writers are marathon runners, not twenty-yard sprinters. It is why attending a professional development program like our women’s writing retreat can be so important and essential, no matter what your level or personal accomplishment.”

And for her next project? Greene is at work on a collection of open letters of advice and inspiration from a range of poets, from the “old masters” to the “younger, less established who are looking to find their way.” The book will offer guidance for emergent poets that is now offered at some of the best writing programs. She is now in the process of searching for a publisher! Does that sound familiar?

Resources:  See Robin Greene’s website! You can Order Augustus: Narrative of a Slave Woman from Amazon

University of Wisconsin Hosts Oaxaca Weaver Tito Mendoza, October 7-12, 2011

News and Events:  Oaxaca, Mexico weaver and artist Erasto “Tito” Mendoza will be in Madison and Whitewater, Wisconsin, October 7-12, 2011, to discuss and demonstrate tapestry weaving techniques.


For weaver Erasto “Tito” Mendoza, weaving is more than a skill passed down through the generations of his Zapotec family.  It is an art form that combines complexity of design, integration of traditional, ancient indigenous patterns with imagination and a contemporary sensibility. The result is a magnificent rendering of color, texture, pattern and interpretation.

Tito with his award-winning rug, Aires Zapotecos

The singer-songwriter Lila Downs has commissioned numerous pieces from Tito that are used in her performances and for public relations events.  His work, “Aires Zapotecos” was a finalist in the VI International Biennale of Contemporary Textile Art.  In 2010, Tito was invited to the juried and very selective Santa Fe International Folk Art Festival to show and sell his work. Carolyn Kallenborn, faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, chose Tito to feature in her documentary film Vidas Entretejidas–Woven Lives about Oaxaca and its weaving culture.  He was one of six great Oaxaca weavers who were selected.

Lila Downs wearing a Tito Mendoza sarape, photo by Norma Hawthorne

Tito and his wife, Alejandrina Rios, who own the El Nahual Gallery on Av. 5 de Mayo in the Centro Historico of Oaxaca. will be in Wisconsin for the week of October 7-12.  If you live anywhere in driving distance, I urge you not to miss this opportunity to meet them, chat and hear about their work.

An innovative tapestry by Tito Mendoza

Schedule of Events

Friday, October 7, 5:00 p.m. — Centro Hispano, Madison, WI, 810 Badger Road, — Free and open to the public.  A conversation with Tito and Ale and filmmaker Carolyn Kallenborn.  At 6:00 p.m. there will be a screening of the film Vidas Entretejidas–Woven Lives in Spanish with English subtitles.

Friday, October 7, 7:00 p.m., Madison Weaver’s Guild — Oakwood Village, 5565 Tancho Drive, Madison.  Contact Pat Hilts,, with discussion and screening of Vidas Entretejidas–Woven Lives in English.  The event is free and open to the public.

Tuesday, October 11, 3:30 p.m., University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, University Center Room 266, film screening and discussion, free and open to the public.

Wednesday, October 12, 1:20-3:50 p.m., UW-Madison Design Studies Department Weaving Class — Tito Mendoza will give a demonstration of tapestry weaving.

Carolyn’s film also features Federico Chavez Sosa, master weaver of Teotitlan del Valle.  Translation assistance was provided by Eric Chavez Santiago, director of education at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, and Janet Chavez Santiago, education coordinator at the Centro Académico y Cultural San Pablo.

For information, contact:

Carolyn Kallenborn,

Film Website:

Tito and Ale’s Oaxaca Gallery:

and their email address: 

Oaxaca, Mexico Weaving Examples: San Bartolo Yautepec

San Bartolo Yautepec Weaving Examples

Photo courtesy of the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, September 21, 2011.  I have written about San Bartolo Yautepec in the past on this site.  It is the home of extraordinary silk weaving.  You can see the intricacies of the patterns created above.  Not much is written about San Bartolo or its sister community San Carlos Yautepec.  Only the basic population statistics are available on Wikipedia.  So, if you are from this village in the Sierra Madre del Sur or you know about it, will you add your comments and insights and tell us more!  Thank you.