Guadalupe Mendez remembers the freak thunderstorm in Galveston that kept him and his classmates stuck in their seventh grade class. With no power, his teacher had to continue his lesson on Edgar Allen Poe, and did so by popping a cassette into a battery-powered boombox.
To support the mood of the macabre stories, candles were placed around the classroom as thunder boomed and lightning flashed. Vincent Price’s voice echoed from the boombox, as he kept narrating Poe’s scary stories.
On that day, Mendez, Texas’s 2022 Poet Laureate, fell in love with storytelling.
Born to a native Mexican father and a Tejana mother, he grew up in Galveston, where his parents met, and often writes poems relating to being part of an immigrant family. “I can share my poetry with the public because of who I am and my background,” he said. He particularly likes weaving stories about the “idea of a border and two places and how we move in the world.”
Though Mendez often writes about his upbringing, he is unable to really share these pieces with his parents.
His mother, a nurse whose family roots were in the Rio Grande Valley, sadly passed away in October of 2020 due to COVID-19, leaving his father a widower.