Amalia Ortiz is a Tejana actor/writer/activist, and winner of the 2020 American Book Award for Oral Literature. Her second book, The Canción Cannibal Cabaret & Other Songs (2019), is available now from Aztlan Libre Press. Order your copy today. Amalia featured on three seasons of Def Poetry on HBO, and the NAACP Image Awards on FOX. Her debut book of poetry, Rant. Chant. Chisme., was selected by NBC News as one of the "10 Great Latino Books of 2015."
The Canción Cannibal Cabaret & Other Songs is a hybrid manuscript, experimenting with poetry at the intersection of performance. It is a collection of post-apocalyptic prose poems and poem songs "cannibalizing" knowledge from before the fall of civilization. In performance, The Canción Cannibal Cabaret is a Xicana punk rock musical — part concept album, part radio play. This show has been performed in San Antonio, Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Marcos, McAllen, Harlingen, Edinburg, and Victoria, Texas. Additional cities coming in 2021. Amalia was awarded a Fund for the Arts San Antonio Artist Grant by the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, to support the creation of a series of music videos for poem-songs from The Canción Cannibal Cabaret.
Amalia spoke at TEDx McAllen. She is the writer and composer of the Latino musical Carmen de la Calle, which has been produced in San Antonio and Dallas. Amalia is also creator of Otra Esa on the Public Transit, performed at San Antonio's Guadalupe Theater and Talento Bilingue de Houston. She stars in the award-winning independent film Speeder Kills, broadcast on SiTV and PBS. As a member of Chicano Messengers of Spoken Word, she co-wrote and performed the poetry/theater piece Fear of a Brown Planet, in San Francisco, Miami, Denver, and Houston.
She was selected as a Hedgebrook Writer in Residence and a CantoMundo Fellow, and as a recipient of an IC3 Residency at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Her poem "Women of Juarez" was published in the textbook, The Line Between Us. This outstanding grade-school publication teaches the border, immigration, and globalization. From ground-breaking publisher Rethinking Schools. Latina Magazine honored Amalia for founding, co-writing, directing, and performing in Women of ILL Repute: Refute!. Raising money for the Rape Crisis Center, it was presented at the Texas Book Festival, Young Tongues Festival, San Antonio Inter-American Book Fair, Latina Letters Conference, Austin Poetry Festival, Austin Book Festival, and many universities. Amalia is currently studying for her Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing.
Other awards include: the 2015 Discovery Prize; team 2nd place at the National Poetry Slam; the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Award sponsored by Sandra Cisneros; first Latina to reach the National Slam finals; San Antonio Puro Slam MVP and 3-time champion; San Antonio Current editors' "Best Local Poet"; Open Slam Champion and Tag Team Champion (w/ Gary Mex Glazner) at Taos Poetry Circus; and winner of the 2014 Ultimate Poetry Boxing Championship.
Amalia's poetry has been featured in literary journals and spoken word CD compilations. She performed for the First Lady at the National Book Festival in D.C. Her poetry tours include South by Southwest (twice), the Def Poetry College Tour, Slam America National Bus Tour and the documentary Busload of Poets. She coached for Brave New Voices' youth poetry camp and slam championship in San Jose, after touring California with the MadMedia/Reset Collective.