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Agave Festival Marfa 2024: Panel discussions and author talks

Carlos Morales
Marfa Public Radio

Agave Festival Marfa — the annual event celebrating the agave plant and its influence on culture through food, film, music science and spirts — returned to West Texas this month, brining scholars and artists to the region.

The festival featured panels on the state of agave spirits, readings by authors, talks about the region's deep history and guided tours through the Chihuahuan desert.

To highlight the conversations from this year's festival, Marfa Public Radio is broadcasting selected talks on June 12, 19 and 26 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

You can find a complete archive of this year's readings, lectures and panel discussions below as well as photos from this year's festival.

Agave Festival organizer Tim Johnson introduces a lecturer Friday, June 7, 2024 at the Crowley Theater in Marfa.
Eli Hartman
Marfa Public Radio
Agave Festival organizer Tim Johnson introduces a lecturer Friday, June 7, 2024 at the Crowley Theater in Marfa.

This year's festival kicked off with a screening of the 2014 documentary "Agave is Life," written and directed by Meredith Dreiss and David Brown. In this talk, the duo discuss the film, why they made it and answer audience questions.
In this talk, biologist Patricia Colunga discusses henequen, a type of agave native to the Mexican state of Yucatan. The plant produces a tough fiber used for making ropes, twine and other products. Colunga talks about the industrial harvesting of henequen and the consequences this kind of production has on culture and biodiversity.
In this panel discussion, a group featuring a mezcal producer, an anthropologist and the editors of the publication "Sacual Editorial" discuss the relationship between people, plants and place.

Koenig, an archeologist with the Center for Big Bend Studies, discusses new research into the agave industry in the region's prehistoric era, agave feasting and the significance of agave lechuguilla.
The works Randall reads include the poems "Without Warning," "About the Light," and "Calling My Name."
After her reading, Margaret Randall spoke with poet Roberto Tejada. The two discussed Margaret’s life journey, from her work in poetry and photography to her activism.

Oscar Rodriguez and Dr. Nakaya Flotte discuss the history of "Elephant Rock," a well-known roadside attraction in Far West Texas. The pair are part of a newly formed group that has launched a campaign to rename the landmark, arguing that the more appropriate name is “cibolo,” a regional Spanish term for “bison.”
Bitsui is the author of "Shapeshift," "Dissolve" and "Flood Song." At this year's Agave Festival, he also read new work he's writing.
In this talk, Enrigue reads three passages from "You Dreamed of Empires" — all in Spanish. Moderator Tim Johnson provides the English translation.
In this panel, PBS’ Ricardo Sandoval Palos moderates a conversation with journalists from the U.S. and Mexico. Participants include Alfredo Corchado, Angela Kocherga, Javier Garza Ramos and Steve Fisher.

A longtime film programmer for the Starz Lions Gate pay television network, Christopher has also worked in music and film festivals in Denver, Los Angeles and Seattle.
Carlos Morales is Marfa Public Radio's News Director.
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