December 1, 2006

Los Bilingual Writers are published!!!

By Pablo Jaime Sainz

For new writers, seeing their work published for the first time might be the most important moment in their literary careers.

A group of young and older Latino writers in San Diego will celebrate the publication of Los Bilingual Writers Anthology Book I, a collection of works written by members of the literary workshop Los Bilingual Writers.

Voces y Recuerdos, which will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at Our Lady of Angels Parish Hall, will be an event where the writers will present the book and will read excerpts from their work.

Irene Marquez, founder and director of Los Bilingual Writers, said that this is El broche de oro, the climax to an 18-month intergenerational writing project funded by The City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, encouraging the creative writing of children and seniors to share their stories. The book was also published thanks to the generosity of many people and organizations in the community, she said.

“[The book] It’s a validation of the passion for writing. It tells us that any story, no matter who tells it, is important,” she said.

The anthology, which was published independently, includes 117 pages of poems, stories and book excerpts from 15 jóvenes, five abuelitos, and seven escritores.

Publication was also open to members of the community. Earlier this year Los Bilingual Writers launched a submissions request for people to send in their writing for possible publication.

More than 75 works were received, Marquez said. Then, a community advisory board reviewed all the works and selected the ones that were ultimately included in the book. Each of the contributors will receive a copy of the book.

The initial printing will be of 200 books.

They will be sold for $10 each. The funds made will be used to create more literary programs in the Latino community, Marquez said.

“Los jóvenes are very excited, while los abuelitos are full of pride in their work,” Marquez said.

A second anthology will be published in June, 2007.

Alex Montoya, Latino affairs director for the San Diego Padres and one of the most enthusiast supporters of Los Bilingual Writers, said that writing should be encouraged among all Latinos.

“It’s crucial because writing, besides being a beautiful art, is a gift. Many people don’t realize how far people can go with writing,” he said.

The anthology includes a chapter from his autobiography, titled “True Story.” In that fragment, Montoya describes what he felt after he returned to his native Colombia for the first time in years.

“I’m honored to include writing in that book,” he said. “It’s a great collection of writing.”

The Media Arts Center San Diego, a non-profit that organizes the San Diego Latino Film Festival, will also participate in the presentation of the anthology, screening two student-made documentaries about Barrio Logan, one dealing with art and culture and the other one dealing with health issues.

Ethan van Thillo, director of the Media Arts Center San Diego, said that any program that exists to promote literacy among Latinos is welcomed.

“We’re excited to participate because it’s a program that’s really needed. Literacy and writing are important in the Latino community in order to change all the statistics. Writing can help Latinos to improve high school and college graduation rates,” he said.

He also said that Los Bilingual Writers might as well become the screenwriters of the future.

“As filmmakers, we have to have a story. And encouraging a new generation of Latino writers to tell their own story gets more material for film out there.”

Van Thillo said that young student filmmakers participating in the Media Arts Center teen programs get to interview and learn from elders in the Latino community of Barrio Logan. Something similar can be seen in the Los Bilingual Writers anthology, he said.

“These are interconnected, intergenerational stories,” Van Thillo said. “It’s important for young people to see opportunities of learning from elders.”

Marquez said that the Los Bilingual Writers project has grown so much thanks to the community’s support that it is in the process of becoming a non-profit organization.

The release will be held at the literary event Voces y Recuerdos, Wednesday, December 6, 2006 at Our Lady of Angels Parish Hall 635 22nd Street, San Diego, CA 92102. Registration begins at 5:30 pm.

For more information: (619) 384-7144 or losbilingual writers@cox.net.

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