April 01, 2005

Los Bilingual Writers

By Luis Alonso Pérez

Like every Wednesday, Gualberto reads his new story to the rest of the group, he never misses a meeting. On this occasion he’s narrating the history of a sad violinist playing for change in the corner of a forgotten street, a sad and melancholic story that evokes memories from his childhood in a small town of Chihuahua, memories that want to be shared and finally printed on a piece of paper.

Expressing our minds is an essential human necessity. Speech and writing are our basic tools. But when somebody can’t or doesn’t want to write in a single language, this tool becomes the main limitation. That’s why the literary critique workshop Los Bilingual Writers was created, to guide Latin writers who wish to express themselves in their native language: English and the Spanish.

The group was founded by Irene A. Márquez, motivated by the lack of representation of Latinos in literature. Regularly four or five writers meet every session, they give out copies and read their most recent material to the rest of the group, at the end of the reading the rest of the writers reflect and criticize their work. “It’s a group of very passionate writers - Said Irene- they can make it flow very well (the texts)”.

Even though the age span of the writers in the workshop goes from 20 to 50, they are looking for the participation of writers of all the ages, from children with their radiant imagination and energy, to Abuelitos telling the stories and anecdotes collected throughout their lifetime. Angelica attends with her ten year old son Max, they listen to the rest of the participants and read their texts. The young one has read some of his stories in the workshop and has received advice and support from fellow writers.

Until now, the group has remained constant, with almost the same members. There are some writers who start attending, but as the weeks pass, they quit. Work and obligations don’t always spare time for literature, much less to attend workshops. But that has not disappointed the rest of the group, for Irene it’s something natural “is necessary to live life, to be able to write about the life”.

The goals of the Bilingual Writers are simple: to acknowledge literary expression in two languages and to validate the power of bilingual writing, as well as representing the joy and pride of their written work.

For Irene the response from the group has been very motivating. The writers are happy to attend a workshop where translations and nuances of languages are understood without sacrificing the meaning of carefully selected words. For writers being bilingual is not restrictive, is a better way of being understood.

With just a few months of being formed, the group is starting to have presence in cultural events. It organized a literature for cinema workshop with director Luis Mandoki and writer Oscar Torres, during the Latin San Diego Film Festival, and a poetry reading with local writer Tomás Gaytan and the Tijuana poetry group La Línea. The group has also been invited to participate in the Tijuana book fair at the end of summer.

The passion for literature and the tremendous lack of ways of self expression among youngsters, has taken Irene to a search for ways of participating with High Risk minor groups, to offer literary formation and at the same time, inspire and teach them pride in their Latin culture.

The Bilingual Writers workshop is open to people who wish to begin writing or with certain literary experience. Age and gender is open, the group meets on Wednesdays in the Media Arts Center San Diego. For more information call 619 384 7144 o write to losbilingualwriters@cox.net

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