ROŌT FOR THE UNDERDOG is a work of sacred memory keeping, of 1990’s San Francisco Mission queer Latina femme poet life and the life 20 years later when condos take over those poetry bars. It’s a disabled brown femme reckoning, telling honest stories of grief, love, desire and survival.
Real and raw, fierce and fearless, Meliza, aka Missy Fuego, goes there in their poetic memoir, ROŌT FOR THE UNDERDOG. Starting from her experiences coming out as a Latinx, biracial lesbian in SF in the 1990s to their loves and hurts and life as a now disable person unwilling to take less than everything life has to offer. A Lambda Literary finalist, a Grand Slam Champion, a member of Sister Spit and Body Heat, they've done it all with panache and passion and the tell it all, unafraid and unreserved. This book is everything the bookburners don't want you to read.
“A trusted voice and skilled writer, Bañales gives us an artful mediation on the disadvantaged, disregarded, and unfavored. We are given stories of grandmothers, lovers, neighbors, martyrs, friends, and activists. Every outsider can relate to these tales of strife, strength, and community. roōt for the underdog is a manual on how the undervalued survive and become victors.” —Steven Reigns, West Hollywood Poet Laureate
“Meliza Bañales’ poetry is a fist. It grips you and does not release even long after you’ve finished reading. Bañales has accomplished the unimaginable task of holding everything tender and sharp in the same hand.” —Yesika Salgado, author of Corazón.
“The very inside, as she once called it, Meliza gets through dirt, bodies, the unexpected, familiar, unseen parts that they have the balls to hold a mirror to, or a light, starts their sentences with you, and you answer with a catch in your throat, ‘Yes mija. I know.’”
—Lynn Breedlove, Lambda Winner, author of One Freak Show
“Meliza has always been one of the pre-eminent poets of her time and this is the collection fans have been waiting for and new readers will treasure.” —Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarassinha, Lambda Winner, author of Lovecake
Poetry. Latinx Studies. LGBTQ+ Studies. Women's Studies.
Meliza Bañales (aka Missy Fuego) is an author, advocate, and adventurer. They are originally from Los Angeles, where they grew up the youngest of four children to a Mexican-American father and a Scottish-Dutch mother. They were a fixture in the Spoken-Word, Slam, & Queer artist communities of the SF Bay Area from 1996-2011, touring with Sister Spit and Body Heat. They competed on three national poetry slam teams ('98, '99, & '02) and were Grand Slam Champion in 2002. Their short films have appeared at Frameline and Outfest, and they were the inaugural winner of the Jury Award at the Los Angeles Transgender Film Festival in 2011. They were a 2016 Lambda Literary Finalist for Best LGBTQ Debut Fiction for their novel Life Is Wonderful, People Are Terrific. Their work has been anthologized in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Europe since 1997 and has been featured on NPR, Encyclopedia Brittanica, Lodestar Quarterly, and The Washington Square Review. They live in Los Angeles and Central Coast California.