Amalia Mesa-BainsDr. Amalia Mesa-Bains, co-director of the Department of Visual and Public Art, has received another award, this one from her peers.

She has been selected to attend the annual Macondo Writers Workshop, hosted by Sandra Cisneros, as this year's Milagro award participant.

The award honors the late Gloria Anzaldua, a visionary and leading voice in Chicana literature before diabetes led to her death at 61. In Cisneros' words, the award "recognizes the role of community in taking care of our own and of the importance of taking time out to heal ourselves." It is given to a writer, ailing in body, heart or spirit, who needs a place to heal and who could find comfort surrounded by the Macondo community.

Award winners receive a week's stay in a bed-and-breakfast, assistance with travel to San Antonio, and a few doses of pampering.

Said Dr. Mesa-Bains, "Sandra and many of the writers have been aware of my long-term healing from the (car) accident (in 2003) and the loss of my parents and illness of my sister.

"Many of us in the Chicana community have spoken in depth about the spiritual nature of these life events and one's creative cultural response. It is in respect to this dialogue and my 'miraculous' healing that I was selected for the award."

The award is especially meaningful to Mesa-Bains, for several reasons.

"It means a great deal to be recognized by your peers. But, most importantly to me is that the award is in the name of Gloria Anzaldua. She was someone I admired a great deal and with whom I had the good fortune to do a life-changing dialogue at Williams College in 1993.

"She has always been a scholarly inspiration as a Chicana feminist and cultural activist. I'm looking forward to the company of writers and friends in a space of continued healing."

The Macondo workshop - named after the sleepy town in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude" - was started in 1995 as a gathering of fiction writers, poets, journalists, screenwriters and scholars working on geographic, cultural, social and spiritual borders.

Each summer, Cisneros, author of "Caramelo" and "House on Mango Street," invites writers to San Antonio for workshops, nightly seminars, camaraderie, critiques and support.

Cisneros told the San Antonio Express-News that when she moved to San Antonio from her native Chicago, she sought out a "literary town center," a place where writers could meet, exchange manuscripts and critique one another's work. When she didn't find one, she decided to create one herself.

She started to think about it in 1984; the economic independence that came with a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" in 1995 allowed her to make it a reality.

This year's event will be held July 29 through Aug. 5 at Our Lady of the Lake University.

For more information on Dr. Mesa-Bains, please visit her webpage on the Visual and Public Art Department website.

~ Joan Weiner, News and Public Information Officer
Originally appeared on the
CSUMB.EDU/news website, April 25, 2007

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