What does it mean to be “beautiful”? According to Nancy Gómez, Miss Latin American of the World, the definition of “beautiful” transcends physical appearance. “Beauty comes from within,” she says, “Sometimes it’s with their spirituality, sometimes with their mind, their thoughts, their actions, and/or their relationships with others, but it all comes from within and so that is how it shines through to the outer self.” To call Nancy Gómez just a beauty queen is...

You know the saying, "you don't know what you've got till it's gone"? Cliche as it is, I've never felt the truth of that sentiment so profoundly as I have these last few months... And for a place I used to curse for its heat. I left Phoenix at the beginning of the year, moving across the country to D.C. for my husband's job. Though I've been enjoying exploring a new city – the free museums, new restaurants and new culture have been perks; there isn't a day that goes by without me missing the warm spring months of my old desert home.

The U.S.-Mexico border is always a hot topic. But these days, it seems more people than ever before have an opinion on "The Wall," or whether our borders need to be more open or more secure. Of course, most people come to these opinions via rogue social media posts rather than real-life experience living on the line. Omar Pimienta is not one of those people. The poet lives on the Tijuana/San Diego border, an experience he documents in his book "Album of Fences," which his friend and fellow poet Jose Antonio Villarn recently translated into English.

Apparently there's nothing that doesn't pair well with yoga. This past year, Phoenix has welcomed yoga with goats, yoga with cats, yoga on paddleboards, and now... yoga with booze. This "fitness" trend (and we say "fitness" with a massive grain of salt because surely, replenishing your body with booze after a sweat sesh is not really healthy, per se) is good news for all those who've ever thought, "You know what sounds good right now? A beer," while in flying locus. Still, a leisurely morning or afternoon spent in feel-good asanas followed by a refreshing cocktail sounds downright lovely as the temps around the Valley finally begin cooling off. Below, a variety of places offering one-hour classes for a low fee and the opportunity to sip delicious craft cocktails, beers or mimosas afterwards. Grab your mats.

Award-winning author Alejandro Zambra, one of Chile’s most celebrated writers, is visiting Phoenix this week for a bilingual literary residency organized by CALA Alliance in collaboration with Palabras Bilingual Bookstore, Cardboard House Press and Changing Hands Bookstore. Zambra's avant-garde narrative and storytelling has made him into one of the latest Latin American literary stars. In 2010, he was named one of Granta's Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists.

This week, he has already made a surprise visit to a book club discussing Bonsái, his first book, and started his bilingual workshop “How to Forget How to Write Fiction” at Palabras.
Zambra will be at Changing Hands Phoenix, on Thursday at 7 p.m., when he’ll read from his acclaimed novels Multiple Choice, Bonsai, The Private Lives of Trees, Ways of Going Home and My Documents. He will also be the guest of honor at Palabra’s Micro-Mania event (tagged as a night of readings from micro fictions, micro food – aka tapas – and jazz) this First Friday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The author, who has been named the "the most talked-about writer to come out of Chile since [Roberto] Bolaño” by the New York Times Book Review, feels the comparison a little off. “I’m probably taller than him,” Zambra jokes of his Chilean compatriot, who died from liver failure at the age of 50 in 2003. “He was a much better writer than I ever will be.”

PHOENIX magazine interviewed Zambra ahead of his book reading and signing this Thursday, and chatted about his experimental writing. (Responses have been translated from Spanish, and edited for clarity.)

Award winning Chilean author Alejandro Zambra begins his literary residency in Phoenix next week.Presented by CALA Alliance (Celebracion Artistica de las Americas) in partnership with Changing Hands Bookstore, Palabras Bilingual Bookstore, and Cardboard House Press, the Bonsái author will participate in a series of free literary events in the Valley including a bilingual workshop at Palabras Bilingual Bookstore, a visit to Arizona State University and a lecture and book reading at Changing Hands Bookstore. (Event details below.)

As I took a bite of Chef Jeff Smedstad’s "pay de queso" (Mexican cheesecake), my mind took me back to my childhood’s kitchen. I pictured my mom baking pays for the holidays and a younger me eager to eat. This is the real deal I told Smedstad. The chef and owner of the reknowned Elote Cafe in Sedona says he was influenced by a trip to Veracruz where he learned about the craft of homemade Mexican cheesecake sort of a lighter, less sweet, less dense version of our beloved New York cheesecake. He put a spin on the traditional Mexican dessert with goat cheese from Fossil Creek Goat Farm in Strawberry, Arizona, near Payson. The result is absolutely exquisite.

It's not everyday we have the pleasure of welcoming to the Valley one of the leading voices in the Spanish-speaking literature world. Renowned Uruguayan poet Roberto Echavarren will be in Phoenix this Thursday, April 27, at Burton Barr Central Library. The essayist, novelist, professor and translator will be reading from his latest poetry collection, "The Espresso Between Sleep and Wakefulness" (Cardboard House Press, $14.99).

Storytelling events are no longer a rarity in the Valley. In fact, Phoenix is positively booming with events that give voice to established writers and novices alike (see: "Multi-Story Building," Jan. 2017).Spillers is the fiction writers' answer to all the non-fiction events around town. A quarterly short fiction storytelling event, Spillers features several writers who present a piece, sit down with the show hosts on their award-winning Spillers podcast and include their stories in a chapbook. Also unlike the non-fiction events, there are no specific themes.

Originally from Spain, Olvido García Valdés is one of the most renowned poets in the Hispanic literary community. Last October, Phoenix-based Cardboard House Press published the translated version of her book And We Were All Alive/ Y Todos Estabamos Vivos. Local poet and translator Catherine Hammond will be presenting Garcia Valdes's award-winning poetry collection at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe this Friday, January 13 at 7 p.m.

Award winning writer and Phoenix native Stella Pope Duarte's new book, Raul H. Yzaguirre: Seated at the Table of Power, is the adventure tale we've loved reading since our first chapterbooks as kids... except hers is a nonfiction account of Raul Yzaguirre, prominent civil rights activist, former U.S. ambassador to the Domincan Republic, and presidential professor of practice in community development and civil rights at ASU. We spoke with Duarte ahead of her book signing, tomorrow, Dec. 1, in Mesa.