San Miguel Literary Sala - San Miguel Literary Sala, A.C. is a non-profit organization in Mexico

April 19, 2016: Poetry Café Bellas Artes

Date: Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Time: 5:00–6:30 p.m.

Location: Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramírez “El Nigromante”
Hernández Macías 75
Sala Literaria, 1st Floor

Admission: A donation of $50 pesos is suggested

Bartula and Alvaré to Headline Poetry Café

By Maia Williams

On Tuesday, April 19th at 5:00 p.m., Poetry Café Bellas Artes will feature poetry, including ekphrastic works, by two of San Miguel’s multi-talented residents, Lena Bartula and Phillip Alvaré.

Ekphrasis is the ancient tradition of writing descriptive verse about works of art. In recent years it has experienced a resurgence. An early example of ekphrasis is the description of Achilles’ shield found in the epic Greek poem, The Iliad, attributed to Homer (850 B.C.E.).

April’s Poetry Café will also feature a group of poets reading their ekphrastic works inspired by Lena Bartula’s Hilos (Threads), an evocative and thought-provoking art exhibition on display now through April 24th in Gallery 1 of Bellas Artes. If you’d like to participate, please see the Call for Submissions at the end of this article.

A visual artist for more than thirty-five years, Lena Bartula creates conceptual works including installation, mixed media and collaborative community projects. Since 2001, Lena has considered writing among her passions. Her poems, essays and short stories have appeared in Nimrod International Journal, Dry Ground: Writing the Desert Southwest and Foreign Ground: Travelers’ Tales, Solamente en San Miguel, Zingology and Dream Network Journal. Lena has made her home in Mexico since 2004.

Weaving words, spinning tales, telling stories, common threads, women’s work, social fabric, mending, stitching, all these wordplay connections have birthed this Ekphrastic collaboration with Maia Williams and the Literary Sala. I’ve created poems from art and art from poems in the past, never knowing there was a long and ancient history of this process.

—Lena Bartula

Philip Alvaré was most recently Editor / Co-Creator of AVENUE Magazine, San Miguel. His work has appeared in Cimarron Review, The Wolf London, is archived in the Saison Poetry Library, London, featured in El Laberinto, the literary supplement to El Milenio Diario, Mexico City, Subtropics Magazine, Verse Daily and other publications. He received the 2011 W.D. Snodgrass Award for Poetic Excellence and Endeavor, and was the Arts and Culture Columnist for InsideOut magazine, a regional NY publication based in the Hudson Valley. His stories have appeared in Berkshire Living, Westchester Cottages & Gardens, New England Journal of Arts and Antiques, 1STDIBS.COM and other publications.

Phillip served as a coordinating producer with WGBH/PBS Boston and as special consultant to PBS National Productions with additional credits as producer and production manager with ABC, NBC and MGM-FOX as well as other US national and regional production companies. He was awarded the National Educational Film and Video Festival Gold Apple as co-producer on a NSF grant to the Harvard-Smithsonian Science Media Center, served as a lecturer at the Graduate School of Broadcasting and Film, Boston University, and co-founded Stagesource, Boston. Phillip also distinguished himself as owner of Botanics Antiques & Fine Arts in Hudson, New York- a gallery of late 18th and 19th century antiques, fine arts and decorative elements, and has also served on a variety of boards and associations. He was born and raised outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and educated at the University of Pennsylvania where he received a BA in Theater Arts, and was selected for the Judy Lee Award in Playwriting. He attended graduate studies at The Annenberg School for Communication.

Call for Submissions by April 17th: Members of the community and visitors to San Miguel are invited to visit Lena’s exhibit and submit, in English or Spanish, 1-3 poems or 1 prose piece of 750 words or less (English and/or Spanish) to (Subject Line: Threads) by April 17th. If your work is selected, you will be invited to present it at the Poetry Café Bellas Artes on Tuesday, April 19th.

Poetry Café Bellas Artes (August – April) features local and visiting poets — established and emerging — sharing their work in a casual setting.

Please arrive a few minutes early. Seating is first come, first seated.

April 14, 2016: Literary Sala Readings

Date: Thursday, April 14, 2016
Time: 5:00–7:00 p.m.
Location: Hotel Aldea
Ancha de San Antonio #15

Admission: $50 pesos for Literary Sala members, $100 for non-members. Includes wine reception.


Dogs in Venice and Murder in Sarajevo

By Carole Schor

Two thriving novelists, both greatly inspired by their love of San Miguel, will present stories that both move and inform readers. They will discuss both their books and their lives as writers at the Literary Sala Monthly author reading on April 14.

Ron Alexander

Ron-AlexanderRon Alexander, author of The War on Dogs in Venice Beach as well as three other novels and many essays and stories published in The Huffington Post and the Chicago Tribune, receives his inspiration from his own life. He is a gay man who survived the AIDS crisis himself but lost many of his friends. His essay, “Survivors Guilt,” tells the story of his past and his present, from the time he came out, to the time he was forced to “check the box” to avoid going to Vietnam, flashing forward to his partner dying of AIDS, and then to the heartwarming gift from his mother from Indiana helping him make an AIDS quilt panel to memorialize his lost love.

Ron was a business man for many years, working around the world for an oil company; a sought-after actor in commercials directed at the senior audience; a teacher at UCLA Writers’ Program; and now a happily retired writer and teacher, living the good life in San Miguel. As a teacher and writer he hopes to inspire others to write, and to write because they love to write – and not for any other purpose or goal.

Put me in the company of writers who write because they have questions and not answers. Whenever an event or a situation in life confounds me, I write.  Without an outline, without any idea of where I’m going or where I might end up, I write. Without judgment or an axe to grind or any attempt to convince others to feel a certain way about things, I write. I write with one motive only.  To think. And just as the writing provokes me to think, I hope to provoke my reader to think, because if I’m able to do that, then what I’ve written will be an emotional journey we take together.

My philosophy as an instructor, therefore, is simple:  I encourage students to write from a position of inquisitiveness and not with an agenda. I ask them to write because they have questions, not because they have answers.

— Ron Alexander

Ian Thronton

Ian Thornton’s historical novel, The Great and Calamitous Tale of Johan Thoms, is the story of the pitiable Johan Thoms, who took a wrong turn and changed the fate of the world, the blame for which follows him through his life. Johan, while chauffeuring the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the Royal entourage across Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, got caught up in a daydream, took a wrong turn and drove right into the aim of the Serbian assassin hired to kill Ferdinand. The assassin took advantage of his unbelievable good luck, and murdered the unguarded Archduke and his pregnant wife. This incident has been cited as the start of the First World War. To Johan, however, it is not only the impetus for WWI, but all historic events that followed: the Russian Revolution, the Treaty of Versailles, the rise of Hitler, the Second World War, the gas chambers, the atomic bomb, the Cold War,  . . .

How often do any of us wonder, “What if I had done this, rather than that, how would my life, or the life of others, have changed?”  The choices we make every day, no matter how trivial or how very important, affect everything that follows for us and for those around us.

Ian Thornton’s fantastic, allegorical story, much like the movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, allows the reader to believe momentarily in the unbelievable. As one reviewer put it, “If a writer can infuse human interest and a semblance of truth into a fantastic tale, the reader will suspend judgment concerning the implausibility of the narrative.”

Ian Thornton says, “I love San Miguel so much. It is a Shangri-La. My time there seems like an out-of-body experience now. It was so rich and colorful and vibrant. It was magical.”

The lack of shackles and the freedoms of Mexico are very inspiring. It seems a place free from the constraints of time, and from the rest of the world. Mexico is not just a geographical area for me, and I know this sounds glib and clichéd, but Mexico, for the writer, is a state of mind.

While I’m here in San Miguel, walking the cobblestone streets provides inspiration. I discover ideas and narratives and arcs and characters, always seeing things from different directions, angles and perspectives.

— Ian Thornton

Ian says to the “creatives” here in San Miguel: “Breathe in every second in that delicious citadel, you lucky buggers, and just keep on keeping on. You are pursuing the finest of dreams, in the finest place on earth. Love it and harness the energy and inspiration to do it for as long as you bloody well can.”


Join these two fascinating writers and the San Miguel Literary Sala on April 14 at 5 PM at the Hotel La Aldea. Admission is 50 pesos for members and 100 pesos for non-members, including a wine and snack reception. Membership in the Literary Sala supports not only the literary life of San Miguel including scholarships for teens and reading projects for children in the campo, it also offers attractive benefits like reading groups, discounts at the monthly author readings, as well as discounts and priority seating at the Annual Writers’ Conference. A Membership Table will be available at the April 14 Literary Sala event.