In her poem “Hija de Tejas,” Anjela Villarreal Ratliff writes that “the body seeks its way back home.” Sometimes we encounter new terrains inside our body, in the air we breathe, in the cultures we inhabit. We were impressed by Ratliff’s voice and spirit, and are excited to perform two poems–“Hija de Tejas” and “Pedacitos”–this Sunday at the San Jose Museum of Art.
Anjela is a graduate of San Jose State University. Her poetry has appeared in various literary journals and anthologies, including Chachalaca Review, Boundless, San Pedro River Review, Insterstice, Pilgrimage Magazine, riverSedge: A Journal of Art and Literature; Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poem; and30Poems for the Tricentennial—A Poetic Legacy. A native Tejana, Anjela lives in Austin, Texas.
Anjela has published several poetry chapbooks, including Jardín de Poesía, and Entre Piedra y Sol. Some of her chapbooks have been archived in the Benson Latin American Collection, at the University of Texas in Austin; and at Michigan State University Libraries’ Special Collections. Her poem, “Merged Mundos,” was a winner of the San Antonio Tricentennial Poetry Contest, and interpreted by a graphics artist for the “30 Poems for the Tricentennial” exhibit. Anjela’s poem, “I Exist,” was animated by Francesca Talenti. Her short story, “In My Classroom,” was published in Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul.Several of her poems were winners of the “Poetry With Wheels” contest for Austin Capital Metro. Anjela’s photographic images have appeared in Pilgrimage, San Pedro River Review, riverSedge, About Place Journal, and Interstice. She was the editor of Austin Poetry Society’s MuseLetter. She is also a creative writing workshop presenter.
What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?
My poem “Dear español” was performed in 2018 by Play on Words. I was thrilled by Ivette Deltoro’s excellent job of interpreting it. I decided to submit work for the 2019 POW Terrain theme, and was pleased to have them accept two of my previously published poems for their upcoming live performance.
Which writers or performers inspire you?
I have been inspired by numerous poets, including Carmen Tafolla, Naomi Shihab Nye, Benjamin Alire Saenz, Julia Alvarez, Billy Collins, Sylvia Plath, Pablo Neruda, and Octavio Paz, to name a few. Other poets on the contemporary scene whose works I admire include Natasha Trethewey, Tracy K. Smith, Carmen Giménez Smith, and Ada Limón.
Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.
I enjoy the works of the world-renowned poet/writer/performer, Dr. Carmen Tafolla (2012-2014 San Antonio Poet Laureate, and 2015-2016 Texas Poet Laureate). Her collection of poetry and prose, Sonnets to Human Beings and Other Selected Works,is one of my favorites. Her poem “Marked” was of great importance to me in my early years as a poet. Tafolla also performs a one-woman show with an array of great characters, including “Tia Maria.” I have had the pleasure of seeing Tafolla perform several times over the years, and have always come away deeply moved.