Photo courtesy of San Antonio Department of Arts & Culture

The City of San Antonio has announced Nephtali De León as San Antonio’s new Poet Laureate. De León will serve as the city’s sixth Poet Laureate for a three-year term spanning April 1, 2023-March 31, 2026.

“Nephtali’s work in the community is exemplary of the role of a Poet Laureate,” says Department of Arts & Culture executive director Krystal Jones. “He is one of the most prolific Chicano writers in the literary world today and his lyrical poetry and other artistic expressions have touched the lives of so many, both here in San Antonio and across the globe.”

De León is a Chicano writer and artist known for his poetry, children's stories, essays, paintings, and sculptures. He was born in Laredo, Texas, in 1945 as the son of migrant workers. De León has stated that they were responsible for first exposing him to literature.

He published his first book — Chicanos: Our Background and Our Pride — in the early 1960s during his senior year of high school. He then expanded his work to include poetry and plays. He has been published in Mexico, France, the U.S., and Spain, with his stories being translated into several languages.

Currently, De León is a full-time poet, writer, and painter who performs lectures and poetry at schools and community events.

“I am humbled and honored that the city I love, San Antonio, Texas, selected me to be its Poet Laureate, “ says De León. “Poetry is to the soul what music is to the ear. It is the most profound impassioned quest to brush with the divine. In San Antonio, we speak through our ancestors in a code-switching modality, taco-flavored musings. It is the poetry of our jalapeno-hot, chili-flavored souls! It is time to raise the roof high and celebrate our city.”

In 2012, San Antonio became the first major city in Texas to recognize and appoint a Poet Laureate. Texas has appointed a state Poet Laureate since 1932.

De León joins previous San Antonio Poets Laureate Carmen Tafolla (2012-2014), Laurie Ann Guerrero (2014-2016), Jenny Browne (2016-2018), Octavio Quintanilla (2018-2020), and Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson (2020-2023) in a role intended to promote and preserve the art of poetry, while celebrating the culture and history of San Antonio.

Three of the previous San Antonio Poets Laureate have also become State Poets Laureate for Texas.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg and the Department of Arts & Culture will host a public investiture ceremony at City Council Chambers in the Municipal Plaza Building at 114 W. Commerce on Monday, April 10, at 6 pm to officially appoint De León to the position.

This event is part of the line-up of programing taking place throughout the city in April in celebration of National Poetry Month.

To learn more about the San Antonio Poet Laureate Program, National Poetry Month in San Antonio, and the Department of Arts & Culture, go to www.SanAntonio.gov/Arts and follow @GetCreativeSA.

City of San Antonio Arts & Culture/ Facebook

San Antonio hits the books with huge National Poetry Month celebration


Locals who stan for stanzas — this one's for you. April is National Poetry Month, and the City of San Antonio, along with newly appointed Poet Laureate Nephtali De León, is throwing a huge to-do.

The Academy of American Poets has marked the month for the past 27 years to honor poetry's significant role in America's shared culture. San Antonio joined the fun in 2009 and has since grown the celebration to a packed schedule of more than 40 readings, workshops, performances, and discussions.

"National Poetry Month is a celebration of joy, a rebirth of wonders, written, read, and spoken," explains De León via a release. "It is the passion for language, for sentiments and words that reflect the collective human condition of us all."

The official National Poetry Month kickoff is the ninth annual VIVA Poesía: Palabras, Música, y Cultura at Mission Marquee Plaza. The April 1 event featured performances from present and past poets' laureates, live music, visual arts, and more.

The month then goes into high gear with a dizzying array of events tailored to young and old alike. Highlights include DIY poetry happening Slam the Town, Full Steam Ahead: Painting Inspired Poetry at Briscoe Western Art Museum, and Ekphrastic Celebration with Andrea "Vocab" Sanderson at Blue Star Arts Complex.

On April 10, the City of San Antonio will host the 2023 - 2026 Poet Laureate Investiture Ceremony at City Council Chambers. There will also be Jazz Poetry Week on 91.7FM KRTU from April 10-14, Pen to Paper: Southside Slam Night by San Antonio Poetry Archive at Palo Alto College on April 14, MEGA CORAZON – San Antonio's Online Marathon of Performance Poetry by URBAN-15 from April 17-30, Veteran's Writing at Gemini Ink on April 19, and Voices de la Luna Annual Youth Poetry Contest! at Galeria E.V.A. on April 29. Phew! For a complete list of events, head here.

"In celebrating National Poetry Month, we take time to honor the power of words to heal, inspire and unite us in our shared humanity," said Department of Arts & Culture Executive Director Krystal Jones in a statement. "We are proud to support the vibrant poetry scene in our city and encourage everyone in San Antonio to explore the rich diversity of expression this month and throughout the rest of the year."

Mission Marquee Plaza/ Facebook

San Antonio reels in big names for South Side poetry festival


From Dr. Carmen Tafolla's This River Here to Miss Congeniality, San Antonio has long provided fodder for poets and moviemakers alike. Now, the two art forms are coming together during a spectacular cultural event at the Mission Marquee Plaza.

The City of San Antonio World Heritage Office will once again salute rhythm and rhyme during Viva Poesía: Palabras, Música, y Cultura on April 1, 6-10 pm. The annual bash, made possible in part by the City's Department of Arts and Culture, kicks off National Poetry Month by honoring the artistic influence of local poets.

In honor of the Mission Drive-In's 75th anniversary, this year's theme will be "For Reels! A Poetic Tribute to the Movies." Guests can hear original works from a star-studded lineup, including San Antonio's past Poet Laureates Tafolla, Andrea "Vocab" Sanderson, Jenny Brown, and Dr. Octavio Quintanilla. Local spoken word artists Eddie Vega, Rooster Martinez, Arrie Porter, Isabel Brown, and Ollie McCrary will also perform pieces created especially for the event, celebrating the magic and nostalgia of films.

During the event, Department of Arts and Culture Director, Krystal Jones, will introduce San Antonio's new Poet Laureate, Nephtali De León, to San Antonio's literati. Emceed by Anthony "The Poet" Flores, Viva Poesía will also feature live performances by local comedians, the Wonder Theatre, the San Antonio Philharmonic Brass Ensemble, Como Las Movies, and more.

The family friendly event will also offer engaging activities for the younger set, like make-and-take art activities and interactive workshops led by local artists and poets. Plus, pop-up vendors will serve grub and drinks throughout the evening.

The event is free and open to the public, with free on-site parking. More info about Mission Marquee Plaza and its jam-packed 2023 season can be found online.

"Vast artistry, rich culture, and vibrant traditions make San Antonio a city filled with diverse creativity," said District 3 Councilwoman Phyllis Viagran via a release." The entire family is invited to experience the sights, sounds, and festivities of Viva Poesía…."

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

'Little West Side gem" sparkles with summer grand opening, plus more top stories

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From new neighborhood bars to downtown summer fun and booming real estate, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. Little West Side gem" sparkles with summer grand opening. The new Prospect Hill spot Chiflada’s is female-owned and all about community.

2. Controversial comedian Dave Chappelle plots out 4 Texas arena shows, including San Antonio. The comedian comes to the AT&T Center in San Antonio on July 12.

3. City drops jam-packed summer schedule of downtown family fun in San Antonio. The City has locals covered with summer fun at downtown Travis Park, La Villita, and Market Square.

4. San Antonio had the 3rd largest population increase in the U.S., new Census report says. San Antonio added nearly 18,900 new residents between July 2021 to July 2022.

5. San Antonio tops U.S. as 2nd most active real estate market within the last decade. San Antonio had the second highest number of single-family home permits between 2013 and 2022.

James Beard award nominee Nicola Blaque set to open 3rd restaurant concept in Hemisfair Park

Hungry at Hemisfair

Chef Nicola Blaque has a new restaurant concept in the works at Hemisfair Park.

The City of San Antonio Historic and Design Review Commission officially approved Blaque's concept for her third restaurant, Port Royal, to be housed in the historic Schultze House in Hemisfair Park.

While Port Royal will feature similar menu items from Blaque's original restaurant, the Jerk Shack, the Hemisfair spot will also feature a full bar and cocktail program, the first of its kind for Blaque's restaurants.

For anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of eating at the Jerk Shack, Blaque's signature culinary style is artisanal Jamaican cuisine, with menu options like Blaque's signature jerk chicken, fried plantains, jerk egg rolls, and more.

Guests at Blaque's new restaurant concept will also be able to order 'steakhouse-menu like items,' per an official press release from Hemisfair. Port Royal will also have the distinction of being one of the first public tenants on what is the now-driveable E. Nueva St.

So we know what you're thinking — when does Port Royal open anyway? Can we expect cocktails and food at Port Royal this summer?

Bit of bad news fellow foodies — Port Royal is slated for a summer opening, but not until summer 2024.

However, anything new from the James Beard Award nominated chef (most recently she made it to the James Beard Award semifinals for 2023) is always worth the wait, so just hang tight for now and we'll keep you posted on details of Port Royal's grand opening.

Blaque, who is also a military veteran, had this to say about Port Royal in an official statement — "The response to The Jerk Shack has been amazing, which has allowed us to expand across the city...Our fans and customers have been extremely supportive of our growth so we’re looking forward to bringing The Jerk Shack to Hemisfair."

Port Royal will join other new tenants at Hemisfair's Civic Park, including Künstler Tap Haus, Bombay Bicycle Club and Kusch Faire.

Construction on Port Royal is slated to begin in fall 2023.

American Airlines adds summer travel perks including Wi-Fi enhancements, meals, and movies

Airline Food News

Fort Worth-based American Airlines has made some additions to its in-flight lineup for summer 2023, including new meals and foodie snacks, Wi-Fi updates, and new movie options to stream. That includes a special selection of films celebrating Pride Month in June.

Food first!

The new food options include chef-curated menu options in premium cabins and choices for the indulgent or health-conscious traveler in the main cabin.

Plant-based: Customers flying on transcontinental American Flagship service flights have a new premium entrée and it's plant-based, woo-hoo: The new Plant-Based Bulgogi Noodle Bowl entrée comes with yakisoba noodles, stir-fry vegetables, and plant-based beef crumbles — offering a new meal option that is both nourishing and delicious.

Avli on the Park: Customers flying in premium cabins to Europe from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport this summer can enjoy dishes from Avli on the Park, a Greek restaurant in Chicago and a Michelin 2023 honoree. Options include a Greek Beef Orzo Stew and a Kagiana Egg Scramble for breakfast. These items from Avli on the Park are available on six nonstop flights to Europe: Athens, Barcelona, Dublin, London, Paris, and Rome.

Wi-Fi updates
Wi-Fi enhancements for the summer months include:

Complimentary Wi-Fi for T-Mobile customers: By July, 100 percent of American's Wi-Fi-equipped regional and narrowbody aircrafts will offer T-Mobile In-Flight Connection On Us, allowing eligible T-Mobile customers to enjoy complimentary connectivity with streaming on domestic flights.

Summer streaming: Travelers to international destinations should be able to enjoy faster Wi-Fi speeds and a more reliable service for all their connectivity needs thanks to increased bandwidth planned for American's widebody aircraft, offering 100 percent mainline aircraft with video streaming capabilities.

New film and viewing options include:

Monthly exclusives: New movies will be offered monthly which customers can watch exclusively inflight such as the new AppleTV+ movie Ghosted.

Pride Month: American is offering an entertainment channel featuring top LGBTQ+ talent; customers can choose from a list of movies and series.

American Black Film Festival channel: This summer, American is bringing new content to the American Black Film Festival channel, elevating the unique voices and power stories of the Black community to offer a deeper understanding of the Black experience.

"Our customers are the inspiration behind everything we do, and American is committed to consistently deliver a world-class experience for them,” said Kim Cisek, Vice President of Customer Experience. “We know customers want a convenient travel experience throughout their journey on American and to arrive at their destination satisfied and ready to explore — a focus we keep in mind when refreshing and creating new experiences for them to enjoy on the ground and in the skies."