I just wanted to remind that the monthly meeting of the Society of Latino and Hispanic Writers of San Antonio will be on Monday, Oct. 13 at the Barnes and Noble, San Pedro Crossing at 7:30 p.m. This month's featured author is Patricia Cisneros Young, who is traveling from Brownsville at her own expense just to speak with us! I hope you can show your appreciation by attending this event.
Patricia Cisneros Young was born in Brownsville, Texas, a border city with strong ties to Matamoros, Mexico. Her parents are descendants of the original thirteen Spanish families who settled the area in 1749 and whose ancestors lived in the Nuevo Leon region of Mexico (New Spain) since the 1500s. Spanish land grants, on the North and South of the Rio Grande, were given to the author’s ancestors by the King of Spain. This, in itself, has nurtured the many stories passed down, generation after generation, of the turbulent region that has seen wars (the first battle of the Mexican-American War was fought at Palo Alto, and the last battle of the Civil War was fought at the Palmito Ranch that was owned by the author’s family) , hurricanes, Revolutions, Civil War, raids, discrimination, persecution, floods, disease, the old Texas Rangers, and other challenges that threatened the very survival of this family. Through it all, they have endured.
Cisneros Young, except for a short stay in Austin and San Marcos, has lived in Brownsville, Texas, all of her life. She is married to Bill Young and together they have two children, Dorothy Morgan and Clay Young. Her eldest son, Noah Drumright, is a Firefighter/Paramedic who lives in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the grandmother of three girls, Emma Sue, Sophia Gwen, and Natalie Kate Drumright.
After earning a Masters Degree in English, the author devotes her time to educating high school students at Rivera High School. Brownsville is located in one of the poorest counties in the United States; hence, the author is committed to helping widen the horizons of her students to the beauty of literature and the power of writing. She is passionate about empowering her students by helping them become better writers. “Writing is a way out for these young men and women,” she says, “They can define their lives and make sense of the many challenges that they face. Writing about themselves and the literature that they read helps them connect with the world of ideas. My job is to strengthen them and help them dream big dreams, dare to hope, and stop the cycle of poverty and ignorance that they live in by encouraging them to think for themselves, ask questions and challenge assumptions.” She does the same at the University of Texas at Brownsville, where she has been a member of the Adjunct Faculty since January of 2004.
Her first collection of short stories, “South Texas Tales: Stories My Father Told Me,” is a compilation of historical fiction that addresses universal themes. The stories are border stories of an America that is rarely seen by those outside its environs. The old families surround themselves with their poetry and legends to preserve their identity in an every changing landscape that is unstable due to the vicissitudes of politics and geography. Before the dams, even the Rio Grande fluctuated and changed what was America and what was Mexico. This greatly misunderstood part of America is given greater clarity by Cisneros Young. She is working on the second volume of the book and hopes to complete it by December of 2008.
Cisneros Young is a recipient of the 2003-2004 Rotary Club of Brownsville’s “Rotarian of the Year” Award for Outstanding Community Service, a Paul Harris Fellow of the Rotary Club International, a member of the Alpha Chi National College Honor Scholarship Society, and inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Society International Scholastic Order of the Two-Year College, Alpha Mu Chapter in 2001. She is one of the founders of the Rotoract Club at the University of Texas at Brownsville and is presently active in community projects by sponsoring her students in the Interact Club at Rivera High School. She has fed the homeless at the Posada that feeds the poor at the Good Neighbor Settlement House and was a volunteer for nine years at one of the oldest nursing homes in Brownsville, The Mother of Perpetual Help Nursing Home, where she led a group of women who entertained the residents with Chalupa (Mexican Bingo) games and fiestas. Each resident would also receive a personal Christmas tree placed by their bedside that was lovingly decorated by each member of the group led by Cisneros Young, the Chairman of the Nursing Home Clinic, for nine years. She dedicates her time now to teaching, writing, gardening, and enjoying her family.