Opening Plenary

WITESOL is excited to announce that we will be having a panel of poets/authors who have bilingual and/or bicultural experience as part of our opening plenary. Please read their bios below.

Dr. Brenda Cárdenas is the author of Boomerang (Bilingual Press) and the chapbooks Bread of the Earth / The Last Colors with Roberto Harrison (Decentralized Publications); Achiote Seeds/Semillas de Achiote with Cristtina García, Emmy Pérez, and Gabriela Erandi Rico (Achiote Seeds); and From the Tongues of Brick and Stone (Momotombo Press). She also co-edited Resist Much/Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance (Spuyten Duyvil Press) and Between the Heart and the Land: Latina Poets in the Midwest (MARCH/Abrazo Press). Cárdenas’ poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Latino Poetics: The Art of Poetry, Grabbed: Take Back the Narrative, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Anthology, The Golden Shovel Anthology, POETRY, City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness, the Library of Congress’ Spotlight on U.S. Hispanic Writers, The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry, and many others. Cárdenas has served as the Milwaukee Poet Laureate and co-taught the inaugural master workshop for Pintura:Palabra: A Project in Ekphrasis at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Other inter-arts projects include Chicano, Illnoize: The Blue Island Sessions, a spoken word and music CD with the ensemble Sonido Ink(quieto), and a poem-print collaboration with Sara Parr in the Mind the Gap portfolio (SGS International Conference, 2013). She teaches Creative Writing and U. S. Latinx Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Dr. Nicholas Gulig is a Thai-American poet from Wisconsin. Educated at the University of Montana (BA), the Iowa Writer’s Workshop (MFA), and the University of Denver (PhD), his work has been published over thirty times in various print and on-line journals such as the Colombia Poetry Review, the Black Warrior Review, The Los Angeles Review, and Cutbank. The author of two book-length poems, “North of Order” (YesYes Books, 2015) and “Book of Lake” (Cutbank Press, 2016), his work has also received numerous national awards. The recipient of the Grist Pro-Forma Prize, the Black Warrior Review Poetry Prize, the Cutbank prize for Prose Poetry, the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, The Red Hen Press Poetry Award, the Camber Press Chapbook Award, and the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters Poetry Prize, his most recent book, “ORIENT,” received the 2018 CSU Open Book Poetry Award. He has also served in an editorial capacity at both the Iowa Review and the Denver Quarterly. Since receiving a Fulbright Fellowship in 2010-2011, Gulig’s creative and critical work has focused primarily on binary (mis)constructions of “eastern” and “western” cultural ideals as they occur in both popular and academic mediums. Of his writing, the poet Graham Foust has written that Gulig’s poems are “a record of someone struggling to find the vital combinations for the words with which he’s both struck and stuck, an essaying that succeeds in creating for us—in lines and stanzas and sentences—something akin to a new vocabulary. Here is language “hungered into,” which is to say “verse,” that strangest of nourishments.” Currently, he lives in Fort Atkinson, WI with his wife and two daughters and teaches creative writing and poetics at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Dr. Pilar Melero is a professor of Spanish and Latin American/Latinx literature at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She has published three books: Mythological Constructs of Mexican Femininity (New York, Palgrave/Macmillan, 2015), La casa de Esperanza: A History (NCLA/LA Casa de Esperanza, 2011), and From Mythic Rocks.Voces del Malpáis (LA&GO Ediciones, Monterrey, Mexico, 2010). A fourth book, Discover Waukesha—a third-grade history book, is pending publication. Recent publications include three entries in the Encyclopedia of Milwaukee, on the history of Waukesha County, the City of Waukesha, and the Town of Waukesha (Ed. Amanda Seligman, UW-Milwaukee, online publication and University of Illinois Press.) Her peer-reviewed publications on Latina, Latin American literary criticism and cultural studies, have been published in the U.S., Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Her poetry, short stories, plays, and photography have appeared in anthologies in the U.S., Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Spain. Her poem, “And Sometimes Even in English”, is pending publication on The Anthology of Immigrant and First-Generation American Poetry, an anthology that benefits RAICES, the non-profit helping Central American Refugees and their children detained in the U.S. Mexico border. A former journalist, Dr. Melero’s articles and other newspaper work has appeared in The Waukesha Freeman, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and The El Paso Herald Post. Dr. Melero has presented her work at more than 50 regional, national, and international conferences, and has given more than 30 invited talks at universities and in other venues throughout the United States.