Kleya Forté-Escamilla was born in Calexico, California, and grew up in southwestern Arizona and in Baja California, Mexico. “I have traveled past the crossroads y mis zapatos todavía tienen mucha suela (and my shoes still have a lot of leather)!” She has a B.A. in Art, another in French/Philosophy, and an M.A. in Creative Writing. Forté-Escamilla has written two novels, Daughter of the Mountain (written under the name Edna Escamill, and also published by Aunt Lute Books), and Mada: An Erotic Novel (Sister Vision, 1994). She also has a collection of short stories, The Storyteller with Nike Airs and Other Barrio Stories (Aunt Lute Books, 1994). Her work has appeared in journals and several anthologies for fiction. She received the Astraea Foundation Award for excellence in Lesbian and Gay Literature in 1993.
Creative and Critical Perspectives by Feminists of Color
Winner of the Lambda Literary Award for
Best Lesbian Debut
A bold collection of creative pieces and theoretical essays by women of color. Making Face/Making Soul includes over 70 works by poets, writers, artists, and activists such as Paula Gunn Allen, Norma Alarcón, Gloria Anzaldúa, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Barbara Christian, Chrystos, Sandra Cisneros, Michelle Cliff, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Elena Creef, Audre Lorde, María Lugones, Jewelle Gomez, Joy Harjo, bell hooks, June Jordan, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Janice Mirikitani, Pat Mora, Cherríe Moraga, Pat Parker, Chela Sandoval, Barbara Smith, Mitsuye Yamada, and Alice Walker.
and other Barrio Stories
There’s no story that the Storyteller can’t bring you home from. But in the barrio, her hot pink fluorescent Nike Airs are all that she has to barter for your soul. While the Storyteller leaps tall Teflon cactus, stops powerful locomotives with a story thread and burns up the devil incarnate, the people of the barrio stories quietly and courageously triumph over poverty and despair. Kleya Forté-Escamilla gives us worlds of real and magic possibility.
Resisting the onslaught of gringos coming to live in their southwestern border town, Bale and Maggie develop a friendship based on their common struggle. But they differ in their future possibilities: his is closed by poverty and family tragedy; hers is opened by her relationship with her Yaqui Indian grandmother, Adela Sewa. Maggie's grandmother teaches her the ways of the land and her own form of spirituality as tools for survival. Her stories, or cuentos, reach back into the nineteenth century, illuminating a way of life that has disappeared, but which can still provide hope and continuity to a displaced people.
In The Storyteller with Nike Airs and other Barrio Stories, Forté-Escamilla returns to where her strength lies: writing about small towns brimming with realistic depictions of Latinas and Chicanas, abuelitas y tias, hermanitas y tortilleras. She refers to the stories in the acknowledgments as her "memories, the voices I hear in my waking dreams. Voices that are my own voice, but are not my own." From first to last, thirteen echoes of those voices showcase her imaginative versatility, and her remarkable talent for creating indelible word portraits.
—Teri de la Pena, Lambda Book Report
The triumph of spirit over despair is a theme throughout, and in each story Forté-Escamilla has created a wonderful sense of place, whether the setting is desert or city.
—The Bay Guardian
[Forté-Escamilla’s] people…are written with such complexity and fullness of dimension that they become unforgettable.
PRAISE FOR THE STORYTELLER WITH THE NIKE AIRS