Artistories on KXCI – July 8, 2019
Mele Martinez — Mother, Flamenca, Writer, and More
**2018-2019 New Works Grantee**
In this episode of Artistories, we talk to Mele Martinez, wife, mother, flamenca, writer, chicana, daughter, poet, teacher, sister, believer, cousin, Tucsonan. This podcast is two-for-one, because Mele talks to us about Flamenco *and* creative non fiction both, in depth! She recounts her dance trajectory, starting with Leticia Durazo’s dance studio when she was three, and when as a teenager, she went to the Festival Flamenco Alburquerque for the first time. Later, at age 20, Mele joined Yjastros: The American Flamenco Repertory Company where she met and married Jason Martinez, who auditioned at the same time. While in the company, they had their first child, which began Mele’s experience and reflections on the relationship between motherhood and artistry. After their stint with Yjastros, the family moved back to Tucson where they began Flamenco del Pueblo Viejo and eventually, the Tucson Flamenco Festival, in conjunction with the Casa Vicente family. By the time the festival came to a halt, Mele has a second child and even more reflections on motherhood and artistry, which lead to her first solo project; Luz. (To read the blog that accompanies the project, click here: Dar a Luz Blog.) Mele still performs locally at Exo Bar. Beyond Mele’s inspiring trajectory, we talk about flamenco culture, it’s body inclusivity and what is lost in its “American translation.”
We change gears a bit to talk about Mele’s love of writing, and that parallel trajectory. Mele talks about a fascination with words ironically coupled with the frustration she felt as a young person who struggled with communication and with finding books that spoke to her and that she could relate to–that is, until, Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street. She talks about how creative writing got her through college (as the first generation in her family to do so) and the essay on El Rapido, her family business, and the gentrification of downtown Tucson that started as a class assignment, won literary awards and became the seed of the memoir she is currently working on. We talk about writing programs, literary prizes, audience, language and teaching/learning.