Saturday, November 20, 2010

Las Bernsteinistas en Austin

In this photo, poet,  translator, and all around hot mama, Liliana Valenzuela, Julia Alvarez, y yo at the Big Read Event held at the Mexican American Cultural Center in Austin, Texas. You can't tell from this photo, but the joint was packed!  Oh—we call ourselves the "Bernsteinistas" because we all have the same agent, Stuart Bernstein. We heart him mucho.  :-)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Uniendo Talentos--A huge success!

Here are a few photos from Uniendos Talentos (a Big Read event) that occurred at Dominican Joe's in Austin. As participant and moderator, I was pleased with how the assembled writers worked together to realize the spirit of the panel: an artistic "jam session," if you will, talking about how we approach our genres from various perspectives.

In this photo: screenwriter MIGUEL ALVAREZ, novelist CRISTINA GARCIA, and singer/songwriter DAVID GARZA.

Me (standing) along with the panelists, after the event.

Cristina was sweet to message me on FaceBook to say how much fun she had. I responded: We should do it again, in another city--perhaps at AWP? Too soon to pull it together for February's conference, but maybe the next?

Isn't Cristina García darling? You won't meet a more generous, gentle spirit. Besides having her on our Big Read panel, I had the pleasure of having dinner with her and interviewing her for a piece that will run in my newspaper, The Austin Chronicle on Thanksgiving (the article should be posted on our website Nov. 25 or 26, 2010). She read from her newest novel, The Lady Matador's Hotel, but did you know that she's also released a new book of poetry this year titled, The Lesser Tragedy of Death? In a word, it's stunning. Deeply personal, heartbreaking, and beautiful, the poems talk about growing up with her troubled brother. Read more about this remarkable book and her other work in my Chronicle piece. I hope I did her justice.

García  has been teaching at the writing program I graduated from at the University of Texas at Austin this semester. If you're in Austin December 2, come hear her read, live and in person! Click here for more information.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Uniendo Talentos--A Writers' Circle at the Big Read

Have you heard of The Big Read, a National Endowment for the Arts supported project? Austin Community College is hosting local Big Read events, while similar projects occur across the nation over several months. The Big Read includes readings and related events meant to celebrate reading and literacy. This year's featured author is Julia Alvarez (who so kindly and generously blurbed my first book, Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz.)

As a writer, reading and literacy is one of my causes. So, I was thrilled when Dulce Bread and Bookshop owner Teresa Carbajal Ravet asked me to help her assemble a last minute addition to the Big Read line up. And thanks to our fellow comadre Myrna Cabello (who, regrettably, will  not be able to join us this time around),  I think we've assembled a fabulous event: Uniendo Talentos: A Latino Writers Creative Circle. This unusual event will feature a round table discussion with writers from several disciplines. I serve as the moderator, engaging this astonishing group of writers to talk about their work: Novelist Cristina Garcia, Austin-based singer-songwriter David Garza, and up and coming filmmaker, Miguel Alvarez. What will be unusual about this event is that the artists are invited to ask each other questions about their work:
How is a poem like a song?
What is the language of film?
How do we hear words?

Besides the talk, each participant will share a bit of their work. So, all five senses will be covered: the aroma of fresh coffee and the taste of goodies from the host venue, the music of spoken word by Garcia and myself, the sound of music by David Garza, and a short visual treat from Miguel. I'm excited! I hope you are too!

Uniendo Talentos takes place at Dominican Joe's Coffee Shop, a cozy coffee shop at the corner of Riverside and Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas. Click here for the details. Hope you can make it.