Robert Paul Moreira is an English Ph.D. candidate at the University of Texas-San Antonio researching alterity and constructed identities in sports fiction, films, and performance. His fiction, interviews, criticism, and scholarship has been published or is forthcoming in Southwest American Literature, Bluestem, Concho River Review, Aethlon: Journal of Sports Literature, Soccer and Society, and the anthologies SOL: Vol. I (SOL, 2012) and NewBorder: Contemporary Voices From the Texas/Mexico Border (Texas A&M Press, 2013). Moreira is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize nomination (2012), two graduate fiction awards from the Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers (2009, 2010), and the Wendy Barker Creative Writing Award (2011). He teaches writing and literature at the University of Texas-Pan American.
In his latest project, Moreira serves as editor of the just released ¡Arriba Baseball!: A Collection of Latino/a Baseball Fiction (VAO Publishing, 2013). With a foreword by Peter C. Bjarkman, the anthology features stories by Dagoberto Gilb, Norma Elia Cantú, Wayne Rapp, Daniel Romo, Edward Vidaurre, René Saldaña, Jr., Juan Antonio González, Kathryn Lane, Nelson Denis, David Rice, Melissa Hidalgo, Pete Cava, Thomas de la Cruz, Christine Granados and Robert Paul Moreira.
You don't have to be a baseball fan to be enthralled by this exciting and often poignant collection of fiction. Moreira kindly agreed to answer a few questions for La Bloga readers about ¡Arriba Baseball!
ROBERT PAUL MOREIRA: A confluence of things, I'd say. My passion for the game and for writing, first and foremost. Growing up in eighties in Los Angeles, I associated baseball with Fernando "El Toro" Valenzuela from the get go, so that the Latino presence was synonymous with Major League Baseball from the start for me. Then, in 2010, I received my MFA in Creative Writing from UT-Pan American where my thesis consisted of a collection of baseball-themed short stories. The seed began to sprout there, I remember. But it wasn't until my doctoral studies tuned me into texts by Gloria Anzaldúa, José Esteban Muñoz, Adrian Burgos, and others that I began to envision what the collection could do to disrupt the Anglo- and male-centered genre of baseball fiction as a whole. My goal with ¡Arriba! is to complicate any and all notions of gendered and white privilege in baseball fiction, as well as to counter the idea that Latino/a authors have nothing to contribute to this popular sports genre.
DO: Were you surprised by the submissions that came in?
RPM: Pleasantly surprised. Submissions came in from all across the United States, but I also requested stories from authors. The stories by Rene Saldaña and Norma Cantú were written specifically for the collection. Dagoberto Gilb’s “Uncle Rock” had originally been published in the The New Yorker, of course, and when he agreed to let me include the story in the collection, I was very excited. With ¡Arriba!, I tried my best to include a good mix of established and emerging authors. Each of the stories does a fantastic job of moving past traditional baseball nostalgia and zeroing in on the Latino/a experience both on and off the baseball diamond.
DO: Did you encounter any pitfalls on the way to publication?