Fronteras: 'Her work will last' — Former Texas Poet Laureate Rosemary Catacalos is remembered by the people she touched
Rosemary Catacalos, one of San Antonio’s fiercest literary voices, died — or “transitioned,” as she preferred to say — on June 17. She was 78.
Catacalos was the first Latina to serve as Texas Poet Laureate (2013-2014).
Her works include the collection Again for the First Time (1984) and Sing the ¡!, a collection that will be published posthumously.
But Catacalos wasn’t just a poet. She served as executive director of San Antonio-based writing center, Gemini Ink, and was regarded by many as an advocate for the arts.
Catacalos’ legacy as both a writer and a person is measured by the friends and colleagues she leaves behind.
Although Catacalos’ friends each have their own unique memories with the late poet, they all agreed on the thing that stood out about her the most: her voice.
Poet, educator, and coordinator for National Poetry Month in San Antonio, Jim LaVilla-Havelin, is one of Catacalos’ close friends. He remembers the fierceness of her voice.
“It took long lines — which on the page sometimes look hard to manage — and opened them up and gave them all of the heart that she brought to all the work she did,” he said.
Catacalos’ fierce character and spirit is also a consensus among her friends.
Fellow state Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla knew Catacalos for nearly 50 years. She said there was no one like her.
“She always stood out,” Tafolla said. “She was like this sweet and sour lemon tree. She was full of laughter.”
Other voices on today’s program include:
- Cary Clack, a San Antonio Express-News columnist and editorial board member.
- Naomi Shihab Nye, Young People’s Poet Laureate of the United States.
- Jazz musician Bett Butler.
- Alexandra van de Kamp, poet and executive director of San Antonio-based writing arts center Gemini Ink.
Visit Bett Butler’s tribute to Catacalos at the Caring Bridges website.