Last winter, after moping to everyone I knew that I hadn’t written anything all year worth typing up, I found a small notebook under a stack of old bills and flipped through the pages.  It held the almost illegible scrawl of a poem I had written last year in April in a Tumblewords Project workshop led by Richie David Marrufo, the poet, musician, and professor who is an integral player in the spoken word, music, and literary performance culture of these borderlands.  Richie’s workshop title captures the individual threads that come together to create the skein of his interests: Bebop Impressionism: Breathing Between the Lines.

I took this from the event description Tumblewords Project posted for the April 2019 workshop:

“…Marrufo is a native El Pasoan and teaches English at El Paso Community College. He is the current Project Director of The Barbed Wire Open Mic Series…, and a writer for the film/production studio Power at the Pass. Richie has traveled and competed in the Southwest United States as a member of El Paso’s most recent slam poetry team and has conducted various writing workshops within the city to people of all ages. He is a huge advocate for the voice of the community and the support of local artistic endeavors…, [f]rom playing music on street corners and mountaintops to speaking in front of classrooms….”

Marrufo’s workshops,  like the performance events he makes happen,  create a safe space for the fun of writing and reading poetry. Here is a poem I wrote in that workshop he led last year, with thanks to Richie and the publisher of VEXT Magazine, Lori Gómez, for the creation of another publication credit.  Maybe you’ll hear it at the August 29th Twenty-fifth anniversary reading for the Tumblewords Project. Y’all come.

“Crystal spheres blown through emptiness” by Donna Snyder

the universe is rolling back into itself

this heliocentric system of planets and debris

twin continents joined at the hip as in a forever marriage
in an ever more uneasy union of quasi sovereign states
the frontera an imaginary line between what we were
what we are now and what we may be someday
without water
without that invisible wall built of sand
nothing left but a carcass half-stitched together

strange bird calls echo

every empty street filled with feral dogs

crazed ghosts search for those long gone

syncopated memories of beauty marks gone bad


a dusty bed screams from the shadows

a little bit of music threatens to be heard

but it all devolves to heartbeat

the beat of the street gone missing

no way to keep track of time but to look past


that shrinking star reminds us dark is coming

nothing left but the sound of crystal spheres

blown through emptiness

Donna J Snyder

a poet and lawyer

3 replies on “Richie David Marrufo and the Tumblewords Project–writing and reading and music and reading and publishing and reading”

  1. I enjoyed reading your article and getting to know some of the people of the lit scene in El Paso. Isn’t found poetry sometimes the most exciting? When’s the twenty-five year?

  2. Thank you, Michael, for reading and commenting. Finding forgotten poems is a good treat and publication of them a delight. Tumblewords Project celebrates the entire month of August, along with celebrating Dr. Felipe de Ortego y Gasca’s birthday every year. This will be the first year since his death, and I’m pleased that his widow, Dr. Gilda Baza Ortego, will be with us on Agusta 22. The evening of August 29 we’ll present a zoom reading.

    So good to hear from you.

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