We’ve all heard Oprah and others speak of “an attitude of gratitude” and its importance in our happiness quotient. Gratitude, the quality of being thankful, takes a measure of spiritual energy on a daily basis, I believe. Like the coffee machine on my kitchen counter, we need to plug in to make it work.

But if you’re a wise woman poet filled with spirit, observation, insight, experience, and passion, you will fill a book with poems of gratitude, thankfulness and love, title it Gracias [Thank you], and share it with others. That’s exactly what poet and novelist Alma Luz Villanueva (70) has done in her newest book of poetry, published this month by Wings Press.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Alma in February while I was in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, for the San Miguel Writers Conference. Fittingly, since we are both mothers and grandmothers, we met at a charming, family-style restaurant called Mama Mia’s, in the central plaza by the magnificent Parroquia Church, where, over a leisurely brunch, we spoke of many things, including her new book.

Alma (left) and me at Mama Mia's
Alma (left) and me at Mama Mia’s

Gracias is a journey into the heart of Mexico and a coming home to the spirit home of my beloved grandmother, Jesus Villanueva,” Alma said. “Without Mamacita Jesus, there would be no memory, no poetry, no stories.”

The title poem in Gracias describes Alma’s solo drive down from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to San Miguel de Allende in 2005, where she has lived ever since. “I left all my things behind in my sixth decade,” she said. “These poems have a spiritual trajectory; they travel from the center of el corazon to places of war and danger … and to places of joy and beauty.”

I first met Alma in 2005 when I was a graduate student at Antioch University in Los Angeles and I took a fiction-writing workshop with her. She has been an instructor in the Creative Writing program at AULA for 18 years, she told me. She is the author of four award-winning novels, among them The Ultraviolet Sky; and now eight books of poetry.

It was difficult for me to choose just one poem from Gracias to share with WOW readers, since they are all so luminous and lovely. But here is a portion of a longer poem called “Revision,” in which Alma describes a scene from her visit to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, which I found especially inspiring for older women:

I saw a woman in her

80s sitting in la mar fully

clothed, her skirt billowing

out, each wave, and

with each wave she

laughed like a young

girl, her great-granddaughter

laughing with her …

she gathered small

shells in her skirt as

her great-granddaughter ran

back to her mother, then

the entire family of women

joined her in the waves,

laughing at the young girl

this woman had become.

To learn more, visit Alma’s website: Gracias is available in paper and e-book from

6 thoughts on “Gracias”

    1. So happy to hear from you, Marie. Did you happen to see yourself in the class picture in my last post? I hope so, and I hope it brought back nice memories for you.

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