Octavio Quintanilla is the author of the poetry collection, If I Go Missing (Slough Press, 2014) and served as the 2018-2020 Poet Laureate of San Antonio, Texas. His poetry, fiction, translations, and photography have appeared, or are forthcoming, in journals such as Salamander, RHINO, Alaska Quarterly Review, Pilgrimage, Green Mountains Review, Southwestern American Literature, The Texas Observer, Existere: A Journal of Art & Literature, and elsewhere. His Frontextos (visual poems) have been published in Poetry Northwest, Gold Wake Live, Newfound, Chachalaca Review, Chair Poetry Evenings, Red Wedge, The Museum of Americana, About Place Journal, The American Journal of Poetry, The Windward Review, Tapestry, Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal, & The Langdon Review of the Arts in Texas. Octavio’s visual work has been exhibited at the Southwest School of Art, Presa House Gallery, Equinox Gallery, the Weslaco Museum, Aanna Reyes Gallery in San Antonio, Texas, Our Lady of the Lake University, AllState Almaguer art space in Mission, El Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos, The Walker’s Gallery in San Marcos, Texas and in the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center / Black Box Theater in Austin, Texas. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Texas and is the regional editor for Texas Books in Review and poetry editor for The Journal of Latina Critical Feminism & for Voices de la Luna: A Quarterly Literature & Arts Magazine. Octavio teaches Literature and Creative Writing in the M.A./M.F.A. program at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. Please contact Octavio if interested in acquiring original Frontextos.
These “self-portraits” are part of my Frontexto series, “Los días oscuros” ("Dark Days"), which I started when San Antonio went into quarantine due to COVID-19.
The FRONTEXTO, however, was born on January 1, 2018, when I embarked on a creative journey to combine text and image and explore visual poetry (frontexto is a blend of frontera and texto, border/text). Since that day, I have been sharing a frontexto every day on my social media platforms.
As to the “self-portraits,” I thought it would be fun to paint the images of writers that had influenced, in some way, my own sensibility as a writer, especially writers that impacted me as a teenager growing up in the Rio Grande Valley. Of course, I call these frontextos “self-portraits” because, who wouldn’t want to have written The Metamorphosis, The Passion According to G.H., or The Grapes of Wrath? As a teen, these works fascinated me as much as the lives of their authors, and after a month into the COVID-19 pandemic, I started re-reading their work.
I am currently working on a manuscript to publish a book of frontextos, and I wanted to share a few of my pieces and my process with you. I hope you will find the words, images, stories, and writing prompts inspiring.
To view all of the content in the Frontexto(ing) online exhibit, click the thumbnails of Quintanilla's frontextos or the navigation tabs at the top of the page.
Want to share your responses to any of the writing prompts? Click here to send an e-mail (or email firstname.lastname@example.org) requesting access to our Discord Server where you can share your work!
Creation of this work was made possible in part by an award from the Luminaria Artist Foundation with funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Department of Arts & Culture of the City of San Antonio, Rick Liberto, the Lifshutz Foundation, Patricia Pratchett, Alan Beckstead, the Anne & Chuck Parrish Charitable Fund, and numerous private donors.