Sunday, November 29, 2009

Guadalajara HEARTS Los Angeles

Antonio Villaraigoisa 

Antonio Villaraigoisa, the forty-first mayor of Los Angeles, has been one of the most visible faces in the last forty-eight hours. This mid-morning the official inauguration of the Feria took place (see image below) The highlight was the presentation of its major literary award to Venezuelan poet Rafael Cadenas. But beforehand, a number of people spoke, including Villaraigoisa. During his prepared remarks, he made note of the contributions of L.A.-based artists, specifically mentioning three---though only one was a writer. It was a nice moment, therefore, hearing him give the full-house a brief sketch of fellow Macondista, Alex Espinoza, specifically naming his novel, for all to hear: Still Water Saints.

The mayor was also a bit self-deprecating about his Spanish, which sounded flawless to me. And yet at one point, when he strayed from his written remarks, his humor shone through when he said:
 "Ahora el pochito va hablar," which was greeted with warm laughter.

Directly after this opening session, there was a special luncheon across the street at the Hilton, where I had the pleasure of sitting with Luis J. Rodriguez and his wife Trini, who have brought a generous selection of Tia Chucha Press books. Rodriguez was also instrumental in organizing a lowrider exhibit, which has been set up beside the Los Angeles Pavilion near a gathering space called Café Literario, which will be the site of a number of events.


And speaking of Pavilions, it's the reason I'm here. I'll be stationed in this nicely designed area for the next few days as a sort of bilingual consultant for the NEA, which is underwriting this space (see image below). Among the writers whose titles I had occasion to chat up today were: Javier Huerta, whose Arte Público book is here; Tomás Riley, whose Calaca Press book is displayed; Linda Rodriguez, whose Heart's Migration is prominently placed as was Daniel  A. Olivas' fiction anthology---which sold today. The middle-aged gentleman had traveled to Guadalajara from Mexico City: he was looking for new voices in Latino narrative. "Hay un título que le va interesar," I said, as I went to fetch Olivas' edited volume. The thought pleased me: helping forge a readership one person at a time: a man named Rafael Silva will be taking Latinos in Lotusland: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern California Literature (Bilingual Press, 2008) back to DF...


El Pabellón de Los Angeles


I met some other folks worth mentioning, but I'll add them to whatever might transpire tomorrow...


Daniel Olivas said...

Ah, you are an amabassador of literature! Mil gracias for your coverage of and participation in the book festival.

Francisco Aragón said...

Thanks, Daniel:

The other two (and remaining) copies of Latinos in Lotusland sold today (long story why there aren't more copies than that), among other titles. Hope to post later tonight after the homenaje for the poet, Jose Emilio Pacheco.

Deborah A. Miranda said...

Francisco, wish I could've been there, but it's so good to have your words, like a little message in a bottle from the other side of the continent. What a lovely idea, ambassador of literature. Have fun! Deborah

Linda Rodriguez said...

Ah, Francisco! At last, you have the title to match what you always do--ambassador of literature! I hope you are having the time of your life while doing such necessary work for all of us. Say hello to Luis and Trini for me, por favor. It's lovely to read your coverage of the festival.