Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mr. Archila goes to Washington

I'm sorry to be missing the Small Press Publishers Panel at the 8th Annual Latino Writers Conference in Albuquerque, NM this week. Momotombo Press will be well represented by Maria Melendez, who is the acquiring and managing editor now.  She will be joined by Craig Santos Perez of Achiote Press, and Brent Beltrán of Calaca Press, among others. I've stayed home for a special event taking place tomorrow at The Writer's Center in Bethesda, MD, where I'll be introducing William Archila, who will be reading with fiction writer Allison Amend as part of The Writer's Center's "LitArtlantic" Program, which pairs a poet with a prose writer, as well as a music group.

On Friday he'll be taking part in an equally significant event: William, a high school English teacher in Los Angeles, will be meeting with a group of twenty five students at Cardozo High School in Washington, D.C.----home of the largest Salvadoran community outside of El Salvador. This visit was made possible thanks to the efforts of poet Naomi Ayala, who is the Founding Executive Director of 826 DC. William's host at Cardozo will be Frazier O'Leary, a longtime English teacher at Cardozo, and board member of PEN Faulkener in DC, whom I had the pleasure of meeting a short while ago. William's appearence at Cardozo is being underwritten by Letras Latinas.

Here is an excerpt of something slated to appear next Fall:

“In November of 1980, I left my native country of El Salvador. I was only twelve when I left the war that tore my country apart. Without having read enough Salvadoran history, I arrived in Los Angeles, with many questions unanswered, conversations unfinished, and young years of my life unfulfilled. I had to learn a new language and culture. I became part of the growing immigrant community. Twelve years later in 1992, a peace treaty was signed between the left and right wing parties in El Salvador. I decided to go back, hoping to find a home, but in my own native country, I was a foreigner, a stranger. I searched for something that no longer existed, a quality remembered from my childhood, a sense of belonging to a country and a language that had changed. I also had changed. I returned to Los Angeles feeling not quite at home. Here I realized that home is neither here nor there. However, the need for a sense of home as base, a source of identity, grew deep inside of me. I began to understand that homelessness and its loneliness is the identity of the exiled writer. And as an exiled writer you try to rebuild your home in your work.” 

William Archila, 2010

from an interview conducted by Aaron Michael Morales
forthcoming in Latino Poetry Review, issue 3

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