Xicana poet from the Southwest side of Chicago, Melissa Castro Almandina is a recent addition to the AMFM fam. Her visions of healing her community, exploring the intersections of magic and science, and proud emphasis on femininity, heritage and resilience are mere pieces to the amazing work she is creating and sharing all over the city. Her contributions range from her membership in Brown and Proud Press, a zine collective based in Chicago. Every so often, to make a few coins, she writes poems on the spot for people at different open mics or zine fests. With just one word, a story, or a photo she pulls herself together and lets words fly.
When she speaks of her works and all she aims to do with them you’d believe this was a lifelong dream of hers. However, a traumatic assault forced her to leave town to get away from all that was hurting her. She went to Mexico for six months to rediscover who she is in the land of her ancestors. She refers to her time there as a death and Melissa now is a new woman. That time away was the beginning to a lifelong healing process. With that rebirth came exploration of art, photography, writing, and specifically poetry. The connection of familial ties pushed her to return to the place that forced her out. After returning to Chicago Melissa returned to school and while in school she enrolled in some writing courses and found support from her teachers and eventually began to write. She saw the powers in it for her and her community. So, she took the risk in dedicating her time and heart into this work.
Melissa refuses to use her phone or computer to write. Like many she keeps a pen and paper on her at all times, but she primarily does her writing on a typewriter, every writer’s dream. As she’s grown with writing her confidence is being regained. We all take our own time to heal the way we need and I don’t think that the healing process ever ends. If you break a leg though you recover and that bone heals, it will always have been broken. Melissa continues to work on her writing and reinvent new styles for herself. She has recently been working on a new project with the addition of a planchette and dried corn husks to write poems.
Writing was a solitude that saved Melissa and with that artistic energy she has brought life to AMFM Gallery.