By a full moon, fall, in its splendor, welcomed me back to the Midwest on a windy evening. My first step home was to sit in my backyard to enjoy the full moon and the song sung by wind as leaves from trees fell.
Today, Monday, November 18, 2013, I will share an interview with Proyecto Latina. I will also share information of the following books, journals and listas de libros: Rebeldes: A Proyecto Latina Anthology, Contratiempo, Primera Página: Poetry from the Latino Heartland, flesh to bone and LatinoStories.com.
Diana Pando and Irasema González are the force behind Proyecto Latina in Chicago, IL. I have had the opportunity to read with them in Chicago. Proyecto Latina’s hard work has been crucial to the Chicago literary and arts scene for the last seven years. Here is a brief interview of Diana and Irasema, Proyecto Latina founding members.
XC: Tell us about the purpose of Proyecto Latina.
PL: Proyecto Latina is a multi-media project that amplifies the success and impact of Latinas in our community. Our initiatives include a reading series and a website that allow us to: create a culture of self-empowerment, spotlight emerging and established Latina talent, create safe spaces in under served communities, and provide a virtual platform to chronicle stories, share resources and start dialogue.It started in 2006 in Chicago at the time I had just opened a small storefront business as an independent bookseller. It was Diana or Coya's idea and they brought it to my attention. I thought the idea was brilliant and said yes and we started hosting a reading series on the 3rd Monday of each month taking breaks in December. It was a collaborative project in response to creating safe spaces for Latina writers and artists. For Diana and me it was an opportunity to see a reading series in our south side backyard.
XC: Could you share more about Proyecto Latina’s reading series?
PL: It was the only reading series of its kind in our area at the time with a focus on women and Latinas. I can tell you were I was on the third Monday of every month for seven years. In that time I only missed two Mondays: one for a writing workshop and another when my mom passed. Each month we had a featured reader and presenter, 8 open mic slots, and a chisme box so everyone could have an opportunity to share. It was a lovely place for mujeres to come together and share. I had the honor of seeing some projects in early stages and witness them evolve into more sophisticated productions. I also had some featured readers tell me that the invitation had served as a much needed creative impetus. I saw networks forms and now that the third Monday reading series has taken a hiatus (It was a hard choice but planning and organizing a reading series and seeking out venues is time consuming and I needed to retreat and walk-the-talk by taking time to nurture my own creative ventures.) but it is great to see some of the women that I met through Proyecto Latina take a lead to fill the void they see missing: Sandra Posadas started The Butterfly Poetry Project and Paloma Martinez Cruz just launched Onda Latina Ohio. It is an exciting creative ripple that I'm sure will keep expanding. When our reading series took a break Paloma pitched and led the anthology project, Rebeldes: A Proyecto Latina Anthology --Diana and Stephanie were there to see it through final editing and printing.
XC: Could you talk about how the public has received Rebeldes: A Proyecto Latina Anthology?
PL: From the moment we announced the project people were excited about the anthology. Writer Paloma Martinez-Cruz made the suggestion that we should publish an anthology and we encouraged her to take the lead. Since then, thanks to Paloma’s creative leadership we were able to publish the anthology. We are so thrilled by the support it has gotten from the Latina community in Chicago and we are thankful to local journalists who took the time to spotlight the importance of this book.
I think our community has embraced the anthology with open arms because it’s the only anthology chronicling the stories, poems and chismes of Latina women living in Chicago and the Midwest. It’s definitely a literary blue print for women in other communities to either create their own anthology or start their own reading series. Our hope is that readers will be inspired and challenged to generate new work and create their own print or online platforms to share their stories with the next generation of Latina writers. Personally, the love that the Rebeldes anthology has gotten is humbling.
XC: Thank you Diana and Irasema, could you let us know, what is next for Proyecto Latina?
PL: Proyecto Latina exists outside of the constraints of being its own nonprofit or part of a larger institution. This project from the get-go has been organic and it expands and contracts depending on the moment. At this time we are on a creative sabbatical focusing in on the creation of our own work but through our loose network of creatives and thought leaders, we anticipate Proyecto Latina will continue to cross-pollinate and morph into more of the marvelous. With this in mind, we encourage our readers and writers to take ownership of their stories and generate new work. We also challenge you to create your own print and online platforms to share your stories and change the narratives we see in movies, media, books, theaters and other outlets. Lastly, remember to share your stories fiercely and be your own media makers!
Read more on the Rebeldes: A Proyecto Latina Anthology and how to purchase it for the book lover in your life.
Irasema Gonzalez is a multi-genre writer indulging in creative interludes with a hook and yarn. She has presented work at 2nd Story, Unnatural Spaces as part of the Poetry Performance Incubator for the Guild Complex, and Palabra Pura. Her story Love in the Time of Crushed Cherries and Aqua Net broadcasted on Vocalo on WBEZ. Her poems appeared in the chapbook, Afternoon Wine: Vicios, Sueños y Confesiones, Ariel XXVIII, and Between the Heart and the Land: An Anthology of Midwestern Latina Poets by March Abrazo Press. She is a Con Tinta Literary Advisor, a founding member of Proyecto Latina, a multi-media project that spotlights the work of Latinas and she shares an essay in their recently published anthology Rebeldes.
Diana Pando is a poet, writer, and a founder of the Proyecto Latina Reading Series. In 2012, her poem Coatlicue Rising was selected to be part of the Rites of Passage anthology and was a finalist for the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Competition. In 2010 her ten-minute play Thirst was presented at Teatro Luna’s 10X10 play festival. Currently she is part of the Con Tinta Literary Advisory board.
PrimeraPágina: Poetry from the Latino Heartland (Cucui Press, 2013) by the LatinoWriters Collective of Kansas City is in its second edition, revised and expanded. All proceeds from this anthology will go to the Latino Writers Collective.
Nuestra misión es informar y formar, a la vez que se crea conciencia entre los latinos sobre la cultura, la literatura, la política y otros temas relevantes en su diario vivir como inmigrantes en los Estados Unidos, y la llevamos a cabo abordando varios medios que incluyen una casa editorial, eventos culturales, talleres literarios, un premio de narrativa en español, y la publicación que dio origen a la organización, la revista contratiempo.”
Rooted in a Chicana/Latina/indigenous geographic and cultural sensibility, the stories of flesh to bone take on the force of myth, old and new, giving voice to those who experience the disruption and violence of the borderlands. In these nine tales, Silva metes out a furious justice—a whirling, lyrical energy—that scatters the landscape with bones of transformation, reclamation, and healing.
Latino Stories has released its 2014 Top Ten “New” Latino Authors to Watch (and Read).
Es todo por hoy.