The Border Book Festival April 19-22 in Mesilla, New Mexico

Denise Chávez
The Border Book Festival


2012.  Year of Healing and Transformation.  The Completion of a 26,000 year
cycle according to the Mayan and Aztec calendars.  The Border Book Festival (BBF) is making plans for its 18th annual book festival, The Shamanic Journey, which will take place April 19-22 in Mesilla, New Mexico.

Invited presenters include Curandera/healer/herbalist/midwife Doña Enriqueta Contreras from Oaxaca, México, Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, Yoruba priestess from New York, Catalina Delgado Trunk, Papel Picado and altar artist, and Esther Yazzie-Lewis, Navajo Earth Activist, founder of the Diné Spiritual Land Recovery Project.  Navajo Medicine Man, Ben Willie, will give the final blessing of the festival on Sunday, April 22

A special Oaxacan Mole Fest Festival Fundraiser will take place on Thursday, April 19 with Oaxacan chef, Pilar Cabrera.  Ms. Cabrera runs the world famous La Olla Restaurant in Oaxaca, México.

The Festival artists/writers/healers are deeply involved with their communities and its healing.  They will join us to share their vision of a world united.

The Border Book Festival is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit literary, literacy and arts organization that is housed in the historic Frietze  Store in Mesilla that dates from the mid 1800s.

New Mexico’s longest running book fair began over 20 years ago with readings, book signings and a small literary festival at the Holy Cross Retreat House.  The event evolved into the nationally renowned and much loved Border Book Festival, which moved to Mesilla in 2004. Since then the BBF has opened the Cultural Center de Mesilla and Galería Tepín, a multicultural gallery space.

Writing and artwork will be gathered for JORNADA, a bilingual English/Spanish book that will feature poetry, essays, stories and artwork from our featured presenters as well as various invited writers and artists whose work resonates with our theme.  A special exhibition of Catalina Delgado Trunk’s papel picado will take place at Galería Tepín during the festival.  Her art piece, Dancing at the Portal, will be featured on the festival poster.

Festival highlights include An Afternoon Gathering for Women/Sanación con Sabiduría/Una Tardeada Para Mujeres with Doña Enriqueta Contreras who will
offer a look at Zapotec Principles of Living.  She will also offer a workshop called Home Remedies and the Importance of a Basic Herbal Home Kit/Remedios Caseros y La Importancia de Una Canasta Básica en Nuestros Hogares. In this 3-hour workshop with Doña Enriqueta Contreras, we will learn how to assemble a home remedy kit.

Dr. Marta Moreno Vega will offer a workshop on Yoruba teaching and the festival will screen her documentary,”Cuando los Espíritus Bailan Mambo”/”When the Spirits Dance Mambo.”  A triumphant voyage of faith and power, the film traces the role of sacred African thought and practices in the formation of Cuban society, culture and music in a 90-minute documentary is a tribute to the spiritual energy that traveled from West Africa to Cuba and New York.  In addition, she will be giving a reading on Saturday, April 21 with music and a dance following.

The “Picasso of Paper,“ Catalina Delgado Trunk, who is considered one of the top world paper artists will offer present a Talk/Plática on The History & Evolution of Día de Muertos in México & Its Healing & Cultural Traditions as well as a Papel Picado workshop during the festival weekend.

A panel of artists/healers and scholars will discuss the Future of Our Shared Journey and What Lies Ahead.  Invited featured scholars are Dr. Arturo Madrid, Professor of Literature at Trinity University, author of In The Country of Empty Crosses:  The Story of A Hispano Protestant Family in Catholic New Mexico, Margarita Návar, healer and author of Zapotec Woman of the Clouds, a biography of Doña Enriqueta Contreras and  Dr. Antonia Castañeda, Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at St. Mary’s University and editor of Gender on the Borderlands:  A Frontier Reader.  Special guests include Diana Campoamor, Director and CEO of H.I.P., Hispanics In Philanthropy, based in San Francisco and Lourdes Portillo, documentary filmmaker, whose film, Señorita Extraviada, won the Ariel, the equivalent of an Academy Award, in México. It is the story of the disappeared young women in Juárez, México.

As ever, music interacts with powerful workshops, stellar readings, and good food at the festival. The BBF will feature the music of The Plateros, a unique hybrid of blues rock musicians, only comparable to artists like Los Lonely Boys from the Tohajiilee Indian Reservation near Albuquerque NM.  In 2099 they were invited to The 11th American Indian Inaugural Ball for President Obama, in Washington DC. Other featured music includes Oussa Bossa, a Brazilian Jazz group, and traditional Yoruba music and chanting.

A Plant exchange will take place during the weekend in front of Galería Tepín.  If you want to donate seeds or plants, please contact the BBF.

The festival will end Sunday, April 22 with a Blessing of the Spirits:  A Gathering of the Healers and a Talk/Plática by Esther Yazzie Lewis on her work with the Diné Sacred Land Recovery Project and her book, The Navajo People and Uranium Mining. Ben Willie, a Navajo medicine man, from Tohijille, New Mexico, will offer the final festival ceremony.

The festival is looking for Volunteers—Spirit Teams—to work on aspects of the festival and with particular healers.  A community Volunteer meeting will take place Thursday, February 16, at the Cultural Center de Mesilla, 2231 Calle de Parian, Mesilla, NM.  575-523-3988.  bbf@borderbookfestival.  If you can’t make it, we will be meeting on a regular basis.  Please call for more information.

Please visit the Festival participants websites at:

Please contact us for information on how YOU can get involved in the festival work.  Join a Spirit Team and help us sponsor a particular featured participant.

5 thoughts on “The Border Book Festival April 19-22 in Mesilla, New Mexico”

  1. Hola
    I am a teacher in Ruidoso NM. I am interested in taking a group of middle school students to the festival as part of their learning goals in writing as well as billingual/dual language program. Please give me more information as well as let me know if there might be an opportunity for these students to help with the festival and meet the authors.
    thank you Sandra Prelo

    • Hi Sandra, Please contact the Border Book Festival Folks directly. We post information on events and jobs and fellowships and books of interest to our organization but the post has info on who to contact. THANK YOU for your interest in MALCS and our activities! Hope to see you at the Summer Institute in Santa Barbara! All best, Theresa

  2. Hola, we are very interested in coming to Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social. We live in Taos-we are not sure we can make the total festival so it there a detailed schedule for each day–if so could you put it on-line. Too, could you include the cost. What you have described is a really beautiful and informative festival. I am a native of Taos and also an Artist in jewelry, water color, oil, pottery and poetry–thus, I am very interested in being present for your fiesta. Gracias, Carmen.


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