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Gerardo Mena

Gerardo Mena's Blog


April 17th, 2011 - Award Banquet

Posted on April 17, 2011 at 3:21 PM Comments comments (0)
I just received my "2011 Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Leadership" last night at an awards banquet.  It ended up being a nice event.  I got to rub elbows with the top brass at Mizzou and even received a personal "thank you" from the Chancellor himself, Brady Deaton, for my military service. 
This was a huge deal for veterans on the MU campus as we are finally gaining some recognition for the achievements we have made and the service we have provided for our country. 

April 12th, 2011

Posted on April 13, 2011 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (92)
The Nashville Review did such a great job with their feature of my songs.  and their editor was cool enough to say "if you're ever in Nashville, I'll make sure you have a place to play your music."  Wow, what a compliment.  I'm also anxiously awaiting for The New Mexico Poetry Review to release.  They have a picture of the cover up on Facebook, and man oh man, it looks so nice. 
Yesterday I was featured on TogetherWeServed as the "reflection of the day", which resulted in a retired Senior Chief messaging me and telling me how he got into writing and teaching after his Vietnam experience.  That to me, is what this has all been about, getting people to connect and share their stories with the world. 

March 31st, 2011

Posted on March 31, 2011 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (95)
I have some great things to report.  I'm currently being interviewed by the awesome people at Marine Parents, to be featured in a future newsletter so that I can hopefully positively affect other vets returning from war and show them that there are others out there struggling to re-adjust.  Power in numbers, and such.  Then, I found out yesterday that I won the "2011 Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Leadership" through the University of Missouri.  Quite an honor that I don't think I deserve, but it's a giant leap in terms of the public opinion of veterans in the Columbia community and on the MU campus.  So yes, I'll accept it. 
I'm eagerly awaiting the publication of the spring issue of The Nashville Review which features a few of my songs and my music video.  I feel blessed to have been chosen by them.  I'm also excited about April because that's when The New Mexico Poetry Review comes out featuring two of my poems.  Also, the Blue Lotus Review will be publishing a song on their site in April.  April will be a very successful month in terms of my career, but I'm afraid it'll be a while after that before anything else happens, which is probably needed, since I have so far to go on this memoir that keeps haunting me.  My goal is not to write a war story, but instead a story of friends that go to war (I might use this line in the preface or something). 
Lastly, and sadly, my band, "Fourth and Conley" will be splitting up after the May 7th show, due to a crucial member getting a big boy job and moving to Chicago in June.  Sad day, but great for him, as he starts climbing the corporate ladder.  That's all for now.  Here comes APRIL!!!!

March 17th, 2011

Posted on March 17, 2011 at 9:41 PM Comments comments (0)
Well, it looks like I'm starting to accomplish my dream of inspiring other people to write.  My buddy Grant, who helps me set-up all my music shows and comes to all my poetry readings and best of all believes in my cause, sent me a few really cool poems he wrote.  Then, I got an e-mail from one of the mothers of a boy who was in one of my sessions during the middle school conference and he was wanting the website to, after I showed them how easy it was to use and how there is an entire page dedicated to young adult writers.  His mom said he was finishing a few poems he wrote about Japan and was looking for pictures for them.  I met so many great young writers at that conference, I hope they all submit their stuff. 
Then, I started a small writing group, mainly to motivate each other to keep submitting our materials, cuz let's face it, writing is a lonely biz, and who doesn't want someone to share a little success with?  So, in this writing group I convinced this amazing non-fiction writer to start putting his work out there and submitting to some journals, and he finally did it.  Then he says "Felt good to send something off.  We'll see what happens."
Then, there was the guy in Afghanistan.  That's right, Afghanistan.  Talk about a random occurrence.  My buddy T.J. went to do his change over with the battalion that was there, and he just casually mentioned his Iraq experience and said, "Yeah, my corpsman out there was Doc Mena, patched me up when I got all burned.  He does poetry now or some shit."  And the guy says, "Tony Mena?  I've heard of him.  He won last year's war poetry contest at Winningwriters."  That just boggles my mind how small this world is.  Anyways, he told T.J. that myself and the second place guy motivated him to submit some poetry to the contest this year.  He said it was nice to see some vets place in the contest.
And lastly, I made my first music video to my song, "I Felt the Earth Spin Today" using some photos and live footage of a few shows and the family.  I sent it to The Nashville Review to go along with the songs they accepted and they took it.  And then the editor was sooooo cool he sent me a response saying that "your music made me cry.  And that's a good thing."
So yeah, my dream of becoming an inspiration to others is slowly beginning to come true.  I have a long ways to go if I want to make a career from writing, but I think I'm on the right track.

February 9th, 2011

Posted on February 10, 2011 at 12:22 AM Comments comments (0)
I'm excited because I just got an acceptance from Burner Magazine.  They're going to print a poem that's titled "Jesus Owns an Electric Guitar".  This is huge for me because it's a non-war poem.  Being the "war" dude has definitely gotten my foot in the door, but the fact that I'm getting a musical poem published makes me feel like I'm becoming a well-rounded poet, and not just constantly capitalizing on a niche. 
Now....if I can just get my fiction "off the ground".  I have several short pieces out, hopefully I get a bite soon. 

February 2nd, 2011

Posted on February 2, 2011 at 3:48 AM Comments comments (0)
Well, first of all, the good news is I just got notified that I'm having a poem published in the Barely South Review this September.  I'm pretty excited at the acceptances starting to come in. 
And, I'm finally done with the multi-media poetry video.  I experimented a lot with the live footage that I shot of my buddy Grant.  I like this one because it has more of an artistic feel, which is new for me.  I've come to the conclusion that I can't use blunt-force every time I create something.  Sometimes, I have to use finesse.  
I feel like I'm learning and creating better and better videos with each one I make.   

January 30th, 2011

Posted on January 30, 2011 at 3:07 PM Comments comments (118)
This was so cool I had to share it.  So just a few days ago I decided to make this multi-media poem project and I wanted to use some real video in it.  I also definitely wanted to use some real props, such as a rifle.  So I called up my buddy Grant, who is always more than happy to help me out with any of my hair-brained schemes and I told him about using a rifle in this thing.  He tells me, "let me make a few calls", and the next day we have several offers from friends eager to help out.  We decided to use a very beautiful, very tricked out M4 Assault Rifle that a good friend of mine owns. 
So, the revelation here is, that to my surprise, the town of Columbia, MO is ready for Red Dawn.  From having just seen the arsenal of weapons that my friends own, I feel very sorry for any country that ever decides to drop in on and invade Missouri.   

January 26th, 2011

Posted on January 26, 2011 at 2:31 PM Comments comments (2)
Interesting day so far.  My song, "Holding Maps", was chosen by a production company to try and place in a few indie films.  I just got the contract today.  Then, I got an e-mail from a humor magazine that said the initial reader liked my poems and he's sending them to the head editor for approval.
That's right....I said humor.  I can't write about war all the time.  I'd be the most miserable person ever :)
I also have to coach a wrestling tournament tonight.  The season is finally winding down.  Sad, but soon I'll have some free-time to work on another multi-media poem project.  This time it's headed to Prairie Schooner to try and get accepted to an online page they'll be releasing this fall.
Big plans.  Big dreams.  I'm swinging for the fences this year.

January 24th, 2011

Posted on January 24, 2011 at 4:12 PM Comments comments (2)
Well, yesterday was the four year anniversary of my great friend Gary Johnston's death.  He died a hero in Iraq.  I remember his funeral vividly.  Me and a few buddies formed a memorial band, so we didn't have to listen to a bunch of hymns that we weren't into.  That wasn't our style.  We lived and died as rock stars.  We played Pink Floyd, "Wish You Were Here", and then I did a slow piano version of "Free Bird".  I cried all over that piano.  He was the one of the best men, and friends, I've had the pleasure of knowing.  I would've traded my life for his anyday.  He would've done far greater things than I ever will for this world.  Rest In Peace Gary.
Lastly, to finish this post up, I already have my funeral song picked out.  When I kick the bucket, I want this song played.  I'm not saying I'm planning on dying soon, but I want some stuff planned out.

January 4th, 2011

Posted on January 4, 2011 at 1:13 PM Comments comments (101)
So I "accidentally" started searching youtube videos and found one that stirred some feelings of longing in myself.  I miss that brotherhood and bond you form with people when you think you're going to die together.  I recognize that I have a duty to fulfill as a civilian by telling my stories on paper so that they are remembered and to prepare high schoolers for their future, but there's always going to be that underlying feeling of, "Just one more tour"...