Sunday, July 06, 2014

Up Close and Personal: What It Was Like When Verónica Reyes Heard She Won First Place

Verónica Reyes (center) and Laurie Ann Guerrero (right) holding their First Place award winning plaques,
at the International Latino Book Awards Ceremony in Las Vegas
A week ago, June 28th to be exact, poets Verónica Reyes and Laurie Ann Guerrero heard their names called as first place winners for the International Latino Book Award for poetry.  They both came up to the stage together, sharing the first place award.  Verónica Reyes won for her book of poetry, Chopper!  Chopper! Poetry From Bordered Lives, and Laurie Ann Guerrero won for her book of poetry, A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying.

There were many winners that night which also included our own “La Bloga” writers, Xánath Caraza, who was awarded with an Honorable Mention for her book of fiction, What the Tide Brings/Lo Que Trae La Marea (which also won a 2nd place award for the translation). Our own Manuel Ramos also won Honorable Mention for his mystery novel, Desperado: A Mile High Noir.  The list of winners is long.  In his July 2nd “La Bloga” posting (CLICK HERE), René Colato Laínez added the list of winners to his post.  I am following René’s lead to send you the listing again (CLICK HERE).  Latino literature continues to grow! 

So what is it like to be inside the International Book Awards ceremony?  What is it like to hear your name and accept an award?  I asked Verónica Reyes to give us an up close and personal description and here’s a snapshot of her experience: 

Amelia Montes:  I learned that the event was in Las Vegas.  Tell us how you arrived and did you bring anyone with you? 

Verónica Reyes:  Yes, I traveled to Las Vegas via car with my family. My two sisters, Maria Elena (Lena) and Gloria (Lizzy), and niece, Sylvia (Lena's daughter) and nephew, Julio (Lizzy's son--he is 9). My niece is a teacher for the LA Unified.

Amelia Montes:  How wonderful to have so many family members there with you!  Was the award ceremony one event or were there other events to attend? 

Verónica Reyes:  The award ceremony was one evening, June 28. But it was held during the ALA Conference. Each writer, who signed up, had a booth.  We had an assigned hour to sell and sign books. It was more like half an hour.  The other half was supposed to be inviting in the folks for the writers who were sitting at the booth (a half hour for each). I was there Friday evening and Saturday morning. I met a really sweet MLS gay boy librarian to be. He was very nice. I sold a book and made a new friend.

Amelia Montes:  Who else did you meet or see that you knew?

Verónica Reyes:  Of course, I saw Laurie. We saw each other on stage when we got our pins. Afterwards, I saw René Colato Laínez. I heard there were others, but I did not cross paths with them.

Amelia Montes:  Very exciting.  What was the actual award ceremony like?

Verónica Reyes:  So the awards were announced via category (new mc for each category) and they had a screen, where the winners were announced, including first, second place and honorable mentions. Each first-place winner came up and had 20-30 seconds to give a speech.

Amelia Montes:  Wow—the pressure to speak for only 20-30 seconds!

Verónica Reyes:  For me I actually thought I would win for best cover design [Verónica did win 2nd place for best cover design!]. After that, I did not think much. I thought Lorna Dee Cervantes would
Lorna Dee Cervantes won 2nd Place in Poetry for her book, Sueño
win or Laurie Ann Guerrero.  I had not prepared anything. So at the moment all this happened. I was giving my Julio, a Lifesaver candy, and was about to pop one in my mouth when I heard the Best Poetry in English category. I tossed my dulce back in my bag and listened. When I heard my book title, I just jumped out of my seat and skipped down the steps. This event was held in the auditorium at Clark County Library [in Las Vegas]. I saw Laurie and we walked on stage together, arms around waist. She said something to me and it was just a beautiful moment. She spoke first. I spoke second. From there, it was just all emotional. I dedicated the award to my mama and papa. 

Verónica Reyes
Amelia Montes:  Wow—very emotional indeed. 

Verónica Reyes:  I welled up in tears. We took a photo and that was it. A little while afterwards, my family and I took off to get dinner. It was a whirlwind.  There is a beautiful plaque, and it is heavy. Wow, I'm still amazed.

Veronica Reyes' award for Chopper! Chopper!
Amelia Montes:  Thank you so much for sharing this very jubilant and emotional evening with “La Bloga” readers.  And dear “La Bloga” readers, if you haven’t read Verónica Reyes’ poetry book, Chopper! Chopper! Poetry from Bordered Lives, get it now, as well as Laurie Ann Guerrero’s book, A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying. This past April, Ms. Magazine published one of Verónica Reyes' poems ("The Hawk").  You can read it here:  (CLICK HERE)
Laurie Ann Guerrero
I also want to mention Linda Rodriguez whose novel, Every Broken Trust won second place in the Best Novel, Mystery category. Felicidades, Linda!

Congratulations/Felicidades again to all the winners!

MY NEXT POSTING will be covering another Latino international event that will involve nine of our eleven “La Bloga” writers.  July 17-20 is the International Latino Conference in Chicago (at The Palmer House Hotel).  Nine of our “La Bloga” writers are on a panel talking about our “La Bloga” writing.  We look forward to meeting you in person, in Chicago!  Here’s the website link: CLICK HERE.  Hope to see you in Chicago.  I’ll be posting pictures and updates in two weeks. 

One more book that is recently out and deserves a mention; I’m sure it will be on next year’s International Latino Awards listing.  Maya Chinchilla just published her book of poetry:  The Cha Cha Files:  A Chapina Poética with Kórima Press.  Juan Felipe Herrera, the Poet Laureate of California, describes Maya Chinchilla's book this way:

“Here is a shifting memoir, a futurized holographic lexicon of multi-Guatemalas, a 'rough' Now-edged literary explosión from the center of a  Chinchilla-Centro-América.  A refigured California, Borinquen, Caribe floating, flayed and frayed and fractal slivers of faces, bodies, intimacies, word flow encycloGuatepedia in volcanic rupture, out and 'under the Huipil,' ripped and dressed up herstory—skirts, skin, skinless, that is, Latina, Queer, borderless Letters—Maya’s undulating 'third eye.'  It is all a ferocious seeing motion—deep knowledge, open diary, activist journal, a burning vermillion life-scape over Kahlo’s bed, Anzaldúa’s unloosened workshop, María Sabina’s black splattered visions, a Golden Gate bridgeless.  A first of its kind—Brava, bravissima, GuateBrava power.  A game changer."

Stay tuned in August when I will be posting more (hopefully an interview) with Maya Chinchilla.  

Happy reading to you!  ¡Saludos! 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ms Amelia for posting and congratulations to all! I wrote recently about inspiration coming in many forms and your interview brings it forth again with feeling! I often backdrop things I experience or read with silly songs-weird-but so goes a child of the Sixties. When I finished reading your blog I heard Cinderella's song, "Impossible" in my head. "Impossible, impossible...things are happening every day!"
Good to read good news of the "possible" at any age or time.
Diana Aviles Shields