Chants Continues to Enchant

Día Founder’s First Poetry Book Turns 30

HOUSTON, TX June 2014—Award-winning poet, essayist, and children’s book author Pat Mora’s first poetry collection, Chants, was published by Arte Público Press 30 years ago, launching her trailblazing career.

The poems in this collection reflect life in the magical presence of the desert a place of inspiration for her.  Pat’s hometown, El Paso, the pass to the north, lies between vast stretches of desert. This is a geographic accident. Yet like everywhere, people live, love, marry, grow old and die. They also rejoice and despair. Mora’s poems reflect the joy and anguish of life, and in this volume two women poets sing, one in the guise of the desert, the other in the figure of Pat Mora. Together they intone Chants.

Her debut poetry collection received numerous glowing reviews when it was first released: A Feminist Review called it “rich, spirited, and promising.” Highly praised and widely anthologized, Mora’s debut continues to receive accolades: The Texas Observer said,“Chants is more than 25 years old, but today’s border and immigration debates make it more relevant than ever because it humanizes those living along the border, one of the most misunderstood parts of our country.”

One of the most renowned Mexican-American women writers, Pat Mora is the author of more than 40 books for children, teens and adults. The New York Times said, “Ms. Mora’s poems are proudly bilingual, an eloquent answer to purists who refuse to see language as something that lives and changes.” In addition to writing books, she is a literacy advocate excited about sharing what she calls “bookjoy.” Mora founded El día de los niños / El día de los libros (Children’s Day, Book Day), an ongoing initiative that emphasizes—through events held around the country—the importance of connecting children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds to books. April 2015 is Día’s 19th Anniversary.

Among her many works are the poetry collections Chants (1984), Borders (1986), Communion (1994), and Agua Santa: Holy Water (1997).  Mora is also the award-winning and critically acclaimed author of over 15 books for children and young adults, including The Bakery Lady/La señora de la panadería (2001), The Gift of the Poinsettia/El regalo de la flor de nochebuena (1995), Tomás and the Library Lady (2000), A Birthday Basket for Tía (1997), The Desert Is My Mother/El desierto es mi madre (1994), Delicious Hulabaloo/Pachanga deliciosa (1998), Doña Flor: A Tall Tale (2005), Gracias ~ Thanks (2005) and Confetti (2006).  In 1999, she was the Garrey Carruthers Chair Visiting Distinguished Professor in Honors at the University of New Mexico.

Arte Público Press is the nation’s largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by U.S. Hispanic authors.  Its imprint for children and young adults, Piñata Books, is dedicated to the realistic and authentic portrayal of the themes, languages, characters, and customs of Hispanic culture in the United States. Based at the University of Houston, Arte Público Press, Piñata Books and the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage project provide the most widely recognized and extensive showcase for Hispanic literary arts and creativity.