Sometimes, I’ve had a really hard day at work and I just don’t feel like going anywhere at all. But once I’m at the Mujeres meeting, I feel rejuvenated.

Mission and Goals

The mission of Mujeres Que Escriben a Latina Writer’s Group is to provide support and encouragement to develop as writers. Our goals are to develop our craft by writing, editing, publishing, studying, performing; to share our work with the community through public readings and presentations in schools and to foster a unified group by supporting individual endeavors and group activities.

The mission and goals were written to acknowledge that the creative work we do as writers is, indeed, an individual and solitary one, but in belonging to a writers group, much like belonging to our families, we also become part of an identity that is bigger than our own—with responsibilities, as well as privileges.


Mujeres Que Escriben was founded in 1991 by Silviana Wood. True to our Latina culture, we could not meet without a bocadito to initiate our coming together. After introductions and a cafecito con pan dulce, a general discussion began about the need for an organization of women writers that nurtured and supported the development of creative literary expression. At that first meeting, the structure of the organization and requirements for membership were not strictly defined but were developed later on according to membership needs and growth.

Over the years, new members were invited and meeting times changed to accommodate schedules. Café con pan dulce gave way to the rich aroma of frijoles or caldo, and finally, a three course meal which also nurtured the development of countless works of poetry and prose.


E. Liane Hernandez is the Education Director of Stand Together Arizona Training and Advocacy Center (STAT) of the YWCA Southern Arizona in Tucson. In her capacity at the YWCA, she works at building coalitions, producing events around justice, sustainability, feminism and advocacy, as well co-producing inclusion trainings, videos and social media content around civic engagement, oversees the arts programming of the Center, helps to facilitate the Advocacy Education Board Committee and coordinates the ongoing Changemaker Race to Justice Book Club.
She is a convener and works to create space for individuals and organizations to do the work of inclusive community building. Trained as an art historian, chef and cultural anthropologist she is a student of the questions of what is community, who gets to participate and how.
A member of the Tucson nonprofit arts community for many years, she has served on boards, committees, grant review panels and was a founder of Raices Taller 222. She currently sits on the Bond Oversight Commission and is a member of the Tucson Meet Yourself Festival as the City of Gastronomy Culture Kitchen Coordinator. Formerly, Liane was a member of the Tucson Voices Op Ed Project 2016, and the Latino Graduate Training Seminar on Qualitative Methodology at the Smithsonian Institute. She was recognized as the Adelita Del Año by Las Adelitas PAC in 2015.
A native of Arizona, she lives in her beloved city of Tucson, Arizona with her partner, Peter, their two dogs and a cat.

Rita Maria Magdaleno grew up in South Phoenix with a war-bride mother and a GI father who was a dreamer. He was granted citizenship post WWII in Frankfurt 1946 for his military service. Rita’s writing reflects issues of immigration, identity and what it is to “be an American.” She is the author of Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth, & My Mother, a poetic narrative of war, family and migration (University of Arizona Press, Camino del Sol series). Her poetry appears in The Sonoran Desert: A Literary Field Guide (University of Arizona Press). Rita is a registered nurse whose prose appears in a new anthology, Learning to Heal: Reflections on Nursing School in Poetry and Prose. This collection was recently posted on the NYU Literature Database, a resource for the Medical Humanities. Recent awards include a fellowship at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

Mariel Masque. Born in Havana, Cuba, and raised in Venezuela and the U.S., Mariel Masque is the creator of Lucid Surrealism. This hybrid writing style stitches creative nonfiction, poetry, and fiction to frame her mestiza queer multidimensional reality. Mariel received the 2007 Merit Award in Poetry from the ASTRAEA Foundation and served on the editorial board of two Latina magazines: Esto No Tiene Nombre and Conmoción. Anthologized in the U.S. and Canada by Arsenal Pulp Press, the Women Press, Burning Bush Press, Revista Mujeres, and others, she has been a featured reader at the National Association for Chicano Studies, National Library Association Conference, The National Hispanic Women’s Conference, Resistance on the Border, Reforma National Conference, Raices Taller, the Edge Series sponsored by the University of Arizona Poetry Center and Hispanic Heritage Month.

Valerina Quintana was born and raised in a small town in southern Colorado. As a child, her mother told her wake-up stories rather than the usual bedtime stories. Through these stories she came to know the grandmothers and the great-grandmothers. These wake-up stories serve as the basis for some of her writing included in her books, Full Moon Rising and Recalling Home, A Poetry of Remembrance. Her poems have been published in Counternarratives (Four Chambers Press); Cantos al Sexto Sol (Wings Press); Concrete Wolf; Saguaro journal; Spiral Orb Five; This Piece of Earth—Images and Words from Tumamoc Hill and The Sonoran Desert, A Literary Field Guide (University of Arizona Press).

M.E. Wakamatsu was born in San Luis R.C., Sonora. Her work appears in Cantos al Sexto Sol (Wings Press); Counternarratives (Four Chambers Press); Southwestern Women New Voices (Javelina Press); The Sonoran Desert: A Literary Field Guide (University of Arizona Press) and Read, Listen, Tell: Indigenous Stories from Turtle Island (Wilfrid Laurier University Press). Her work can also be found in Edible Baja Arizona; The James and Loma Griffith Arizona-Sonora Digital Folklore Archives; This Piece of Earth–Images and Words from Tumamoc Hill; Spiral Orb;Drunken Boat; Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts and VOCA the University of Arizona Poetry Center Audio Video Library. She is the recipient of the University of Arizona Poetry Center Mary Ann Campau Fellowship Inaugural Award.

A native of Tucson, Arizona, Silviana Wood received her M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Arizona and has been involved in the local theater community since the 1970s. She is known for her bilingual comedies and dramas as well as for being a professional storyteller, actor, director, and teacher of literature and Chicano theater. Silviana has twice won the Chicano/Latino Literary Prize from the University of California, Irvine: once for short story and once for drama.
She has also received playwriting fellowships and done several residencies at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio. She has been a member of TENAZ (El Teatro Nacional de Aztlán), Teatro del Pueblo, Teatro Libertad, and Teatro Chicano and is a founding member of Mujeres Que Escriben. Silviana is the author of many plays, including Anhelos por Oaxaca, Amor de Hija, and A Drunkard’s Tale of Melted Wings and Memories and most recently Barrio Dreams, Selected Plays (University of Arizona Press).



While the mission and goals statements establish their identity and direction, they also have a set structure and norms. Membership establishes the level of commitment required of anyone wishing to join. Attendance and active participation at all monthly meetings takes the form of hosting, writing in community, sharing the writing and offering constructive feedback. Due to the private and sensitive nature of material generated, only members may attend meetings. Members support the group by attending Mujeres Que Escriben events and providing professional support in the form of donations, time and marketing efforts.

Community Service

In the spirit of servant leadership, we spend much of our time as individuals in service to others. We are integral members of advocacy groups for women’s issues, equity in access to education, the LGBTQ community, the undocumented, and anti-poverty and anti-war efforts. We are tutors for undocumented students pursuing higher education and judges for poetry contests; we organize marches for women and moderate panels for book festivals. We mentor high school teachers and PhD candidates. We are committed to the growth of individuals within the group and in the greater community. There is a sense of stewardship—that Mujeres Que Escriben is much greater than the sum of its parts and, therefore, must be held in trust for the greater good.


The audience that most inspires them are the people from the community who attend their readings.

Readings / Rehearsals

Mujeres Que Escriben requires members to participate in readings. We consider these readings a small contribution toward giving back to the very community that inspires our obras. Prior to any reading, we participate in several rehearsals, a form of professional development as well as quality control. We help each other identify areas that need further editing and proofreading before going public. In helping each other prepare to do our very best, we help to maintain the integrity of the group and brand.

We have been reading in and around Tucson since 1991. These are only a few of the places we have read:

  • KXCI community radio
  • Tucson Poetry Crawl
  • University of Arizona Poetry Center
  • University of Arizona Chicano/Hispano Student Affairs, now the Guerrero Center
  • Tucson Festival of Books
  • Raices Taller 222 Art Gallery
  • International Women’s Day in Bisbee and Tucson
  • National Hispanic Women’s Conference in Phoenix
  • Tumamoc Hill, an ecological reserve at the western edge of downtown Tucson


Shop Talk

Monthly meetings are the backbone of our group, the place where we tend to the business of being writers, where we make time to develop our craft. Whether it is new writing generated or thoughtful analysis and feedback, everyone leaves feeling rejuvenated. The meetings combine just the right amount of comadrazgo, relevance, and rigor to make for a good session.

Our protocols are designed to establish and maintain trust, respect for each other as writers, and a sense that we are in it together, como hermanas. We start by acknowledging and honoring each other the minute we walk through the door–con beso y abrazo. The hostess honors each of us with a very special, home-cooked comidita. The meal sets the tone for the customs, rules and procedures that characterize our group.

The hostess schedules time for announcements, then leads the group in a writing activity. It can be either a prompt, for which she designates a minimum of forty-five minutes for writing and forty-five minutes for feedback or a workshop of existing work. Three or four hours later, the meeting ends with a celebration of our writing–the strong and artful parts as well as the parts that need strengthening.


Valerina Quintana Meeting

Months before my turn to host, I torture myself with what meal to prepare. It becomes homework, looming overhead. Every main course that crosses my path is under scrutiny and consideration, every dessert, hors d’oeuvres and beverage. Pages of recipes are strewn across my counter. Is this the musing of a mad gourmet cook? I am not an avid cook, but I am a great collector of recipes: salads/soups, main courses, desserts, even licuados and smoothies. Volumes of recipes collected over the years are archived with the sole intent of enticing me to enhance my limited culinary skills. Perusing through these recipes for just the right one, I am reminded of what a friend once told me, “If you can read, you can cook.” Alas, as literate as I am, the recipes remain in a file to be opened only when extremely necessary. I realize that food brings people together, that it is the common denominator in any community or culture. I console myself knowing that at least I have the recipes for when I prepare a meal for others.

My Mujeres are my guinea pigs. Food wise, I have experimented on them countless times over the more than two decades that we have been writing together. I am not the only one who experiments on her friends for mealtime. A friend half a world away belongs to a group called the Grateful Guinea Pigs. There are six members in the group and every other month they rotate the host who provides an extravagant meal from pre-dinner drinks to appetizer, soup, main course and dessert. The entire meal must be something the host has never prepared before. It give me some comfort to know that I am not alone in my research and experimenting. What will it be this time?

Sifting through main meal recipes is only part of my research. Is it sad that I refer to meal planning as research? Well, ni modo for this cook. My mind wanders to the bebida. What to drink? This is December, so it should be easy–hot mulled apple cider, eggnog, and jamaica. Stashed in a huge jar in my cupboard is a cache of jamaica blossoms from a local Mexican supermarket. Blossoms, hot water, sugar and ice create a stunning ruby color for the holiday season.. Estella, one of our wine connoisseurs, will bring, well, you guessed it, wine.

After reviewing my countless recipes, on this day I settle for simple–a meal of crockpot lemon chicken breast with garlic, onion, spices, fresh squeezed lemon juice (from my lemon tree), carrots and potatoes. Butter lettuce salad and cherry tomatoes with homemade lemon vinaigrette. For dessert, something for the chocoholic Estella on this her birthday month. In the tradition of honoring the birthday Mujer with a special dessert, I decide on a chocolate flourless cake.

The recipe states, “It is important that not one speck of egg yolk remain in the egg whites, or they will not whip properly.” Oh, no! A bit of yolk has slipped into the egg whites. Well, I will just have to see if it is really true…Noted as part of my research, when it is time for dessert, the cake is light, rich and not ruined by the speck of yolk. I serve Mexican sugar and canned milk with my cafecito of choice, piñon coffee, the deep aroma which always reminds me of my hometown in southern Colorado. After everyone has eaten, a third of the cake remains. Estella happily takes it home. Even if it were not her birthday, she would be the one to claim the chocolate.

The Prompt

At the same time that I consider what food will nourish my Mujeres, I am also thinking of the prompt. Will it be easy to understand? Will it be a good writing exercise? I want my instructions to be clear and concise, so I review it from beginning to end.

As we gather at the table, I give each of the Mujeres six small strips of paper which they deposit into the appropriate pile.

  1. First pile–each Mujer deposits two strips: Who + Adjective.
  2. Second pile–each Mujer deposits two strips: Verb + Object.
  3. Third pile–each Mujer deposits two strips: Why + phrase.

Someone asks, “Can we include an animal instead of a person?” The answer is no, but the Mujeres will do what they want anyway. Siempre hay un rebelde.

I scramble all the strips onto the table and ask everyone to choose three. “Write from those strips,” I say, “and add a color.”

Excerpts of the Writing


by Mariel Masque

During Hurricane Andrew’s evacuation, Daniela, the barrio’s elegant queen, grabbed a bag of romance novels, her Walkman, Gloria Estefan CD and an Almond Joy chocolate bar. With this emergency kit, the fifteen-year-old stormed out of the mobile home and lifted Peluche, her brown, droopy-eared hound, and climbed into the school bus which was driving neighbors to the shelter. As the vehicle raced along, the inner storm rose.

What am I going to do? Daniela thought. The pregnancy test flashed positive blue inside her pocket. Lightning spoke; its sharp, loud crack twisted her intestines. She could hear Ulbicia, her stepmother, screech, “Esto no tiene nombre. Te pasa por mensa. I told you not to open your legs. Deja que tu padre se entere.” The storm’s low rumbles made her heart skip.

Maybe the wind will blow the bitch away, she thought.


by Valerina Quintana

It was early morning, that time between darkness and light, so easily confused with twilight. Noche, my black house cat, scratched and whined to come inside. I awoke suddenly and thought there must be something wrong because, coming or going, Noche usually softly butts his head on the door until I come around.

He whined louder this time and began clawing at the door. Frowning, I tossed the bed covers aside and hurried to let him in. Noche dashed past me to the kitchen and crashed into the Christmas tree on his way into my bedroom. He skidded under my bed and there he remained. No amount of coaxing could lure him out.

With trepidation, I opened the door to see what had disturbed him.


by M. E. Wakamatsu

He had taught her everything he and every Greek before him knew of cultivating olives. For instance, that the briny air made them fat and juicy. That the ones facing the sea are happier. That you should start the harvest no later than November 25, St. Katerina’s day.

Today, the workers set out early to harvest the last remaining olives. From the balcony, she saw them drive away the noisy mechanical harvesters. The cobalt blue skies reminded her of the day her father died ten years ago. The day he died, he said, “These groves have been here since the days of Odysseus. They know things.” Mara had been happy to carry on his legacy. If he returned today, he would not recognize the place. The machinery. The computerized irrigation system. Trained staff. Their own mill. She had done well. He would be proud. Now, she had no more excuses.