Saturday, May 22, 2010

Farewell to this year's National Latino Writer's Conference

As the conference wraps up, and the National Hispanic Cultural Center looks ahead to their 10th anniversary celebration in October. Hard to believe that the institution is only ten years old, considering all they've accomplished! Can you imagine a writer's conference where, rather than competition and one-upmanship, a spirit of goodwill and openness to new ideas prevails? If you can, then you must've been at this year's National Latino Writer's Conference at the NHCC. An intense series of workshops, informal conversations and presentations concluded with this morning's group picture outside the Center's education building, followed by one-on-one interviews between writers and editors, participants and workshop faculty, or writers and agents. Each interview was scheduled for 15 minutes, and conference participants were allowed to choose two editors, agents or authors with whom they'd like to schedule appointments. I was fortunate enough to speak with ten interesting individuals, ranging in age from twenty-something to retired, most writing in English and one writing in Spanish, some gay, some hetero, some lesbian, a few Burque residents, and a poetry/prose split coming in at about 50/50. All this to say we Latino writers are a diverse bunch! I will be considering work from most of them for possible Momotombo or Pilgrimage selection. Felt great to offer what insight and encouragement I could---giving back to the karmic well, from which I have drawn long and deeply in my encounters with writer-colleagues and writer-mentors.

Speaking of mentors with far-reaching impacts...Rudolfo Anaya decided just this morning that he would invite the entire conference to his home for merriment this evening at 5pm. My family and I nosed around his thriving vegetable garden, enjoyed the company of his two sweet Dachsunds (at 9 and 4, a good match for my kids---13 and 9), and generally soaked in the spirit of camaraderie radiating through the adobe home stuffed with writers. I managed to sneak in a book-signing request when I saw RA seated with pen in hand...turns out he was about to jot down a few grocery-list items, not assuming the book signing position! Even Lucha Corpi, an esteemed retired writing professor and well-known novelist in her own right, someone who has known Anaya for years, remained star struck and reverant at the chance to be in his home, goodness bless her. She fondly remembered his wife, as well, gone only five short months. Mr. Anaya looked on at the festivities from his front table, as folks dropped in and out of the chair next to him for a platica. The spirit of his generous hospitality was an apt send-off from our days of vital community building in Albuquerque. Thanks so much to NHCC staff Carlos Vasquez, Greta Pullen, Katie Trujillo, and the many, many others who brought us all together, and a personal thanks to Francisco Aragon for the occasion to travel south and represent Momotombo Press.

Maria Melendez, Acquiring Editor, Momotombo Press

1 comment:

Francisco Aragón said...

Thank you, Maria, for sharing these impressions with us. As I mentioned on Facebook, this year's conference had the feel--from here--of being seminal, between your small press panel (a first), Rigoberto's keynote, Juan Felipe's presence, and Rudy Anaya....special