Who are you?
I am a Tejana actor, writer, spoken-word poet, playwright, and activist. Currently living in South Texas, I am the writer and composer of the Latino musical Carmen de la Calle. I am also creator and star of Otra Esa on the Public Transit. A powerful one-woman stage show about destination and destiny, performed at San Antonio’s Guadalupe Theater and Talento Bilingüe de Houston.
What do you do?
Through my writings, I attempt to chronicle my travels as a poet. I’ve performed on three seasons of Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry on HBO and the NAACP Image Awards on FOX. I’ve also appeared in the award-winning independent film Speeder Kills which had its national broadcast premiere on SiTV. I’ve written and starred in several multi-media plays.
How do you do it?
I am most inspired by Agosto Boal’s theater of the oppressed. My work addresses issues of women’s rights, class, race, etc. with insight, humor, and a keen eye for characterization.
Does your work impact your community and how?
I write most about the borderland which is my home. I fell into writing quite accidentally, but have taken the responsibility seriously ever since..
What inspired you to choose this medium?
My desire to develop and strengthen community through the use of the arts. Through poetry and the arts I’ve been able to embody multiple community characters whose lives often intertwine on issues of race, class, and gender, and the dailiness of oppression, passion, and living.
Amalia Ortiz is a Tejana performance poet who has appeared on three seasons of Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry on HBO and the NAACP Image Awards on FOX. She has toured countless colleges and universities as a solo artist, and with the performance-poetry troupes Diva Diction, The Chicano Messengers of Spoken Word, and the Def Poetry College Tour.
In 2002, she was awarded the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral artist grant from Sandra Cisneros. She is a CantoMundo Fellow and was selected as a Hedgebrook writer-in-residence where she wrote a new poetry musical, Carmen de la Calle. This past August, she completed a writing residency at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Most recently she was one of 10 winners of the VIA Metropolitan Transit’s “Poetry On The Move” contest.
Her publications include The Mas Tequila Review, Boundless 2010, The Rio Grande Review, Punk Planet, Deportation Nation by Calaca Press, La Voz de Esperanza, and The Line Between Us by Rethinking Schools.