Monday, January 01, 2007


Monday’s post from Daniel Olivas

PEN’s Emerging Voices Rosenthal Fellowship Program is an intensive eight-month program involving writers in the early stages of their literary careers. The program includes one-on-one sessions with mentors, seminars on topics such as editing or working with agents, master classes with a renowned novelist, courses in the Writers’ Program at UCLA Extension, one-month teaching residencies, a monthly book group, and literary readings. It culminates in a public reading and reception. Participants are selected according to potential, experience, and goals. Mentors are chosen from PEN’s comprehensive membership of professional writers and beyond. Participants are paired with established writers sharing similar writing interests and often with those of the same ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The Emerging Voices Fellows of 2007 include the following:

Melinda Palacio (pictured above) grew up in South Central Los Angeles and now lives in Santa Barbara. She holds two Comparative Literature degrees—a B.A. from UC Berkeley and a Master’s from UC Santa Cruz. Her latest venture is, an online magazine for writers. Her projects include City Mija: A Memoir in Poems and Bathroom Girls: Growing Up in South Central L.A., a collection of short stories. She is currently working on a novel.

Juan Carlos Castro spent the greater part of his youth in the New York City metro area where he attended New York University. Over the past several years he has published a number of articles and three short stories, among them The Burning of Father Amelio’s Church, the story of a priest who burns down his church because of an infestation of mice in the walls. He sits on the Board of Contributing Writers for Tertulia Magazine, and is presently at work on his first novel.

Mario Rocha discovered his voice as a writer while locked up at Central Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles. His writings have appeared in several independent newspapers, magazines, and journals. He is also the subject of Mario’s Story, winner of the 2006 audience award for best documentary at the L.A. Film Festival. As an Emerging Voices Fellow, he hopes to complete an almost 10-year collection of writings titled, Young Lifer: A Prisoner’s Quest for Justice & Freedom.

Sandra Ramirez-Thomas is a Los Angeles native and a photographer. Her short story, The Twins, was a finalist in the 2005 Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers. She is currently at work on her first collection of short stories titled, Pictures, which explores the fragile relationship between the fear and desire for intimacy.

For a complete list of the 2007 PEN fellows, visit here.

◙ My profile of Lee Merrill Byrd appears in yesterday’s El Paso Times. Byrd is co-founder of Cinco Puntos Press and now is the widely-praised novelist of Riley's Fire (Algonquin) which recently landed on People magazine's Top Ten Books of 2006. Cinco Puntos Press has published some wonderful books including those by Xavier Garza, David Dorado Romo, Paco Ignacio Taibo II and Artemio Rodríguez. Though Byrd has written other books, this is her first full-length novel.

◙ Lawyers who write poetry? A strange concept, you say? Well, we note that 40% of La Bloga is made up of lawyers who write poetry. Also, if you’re still skeptical, you haven’t encountered Professor James R. Elkins of the College of Law at West Virginia University. Elkins is the founder of Legal Studies Forum (LSF) that has been publishing attorney verse since 1999. Three issues of LSF is ready for publication in 2007. To his knowledge, there is not another law journal or law review in the country that focuses on literature the way they do at LSF. There are journals that publish essays about literature, few that publish the literature itself. A subscription to the Legal Studies Forum is $35. Visit here for information on subscribing. Also, if you wish to submit poetry, essays, etc., visit here for guidelines.

◙ Manuel Muñoz, the author of the well-received 2003 short story collection, Zigzagger (Northwestern University Press), has a new collection coming out this May entitled, The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue (Algonquin Books).

◙ Helena María Viramontes' new novel, Their Dogs Came With Them, will be published by Atria/Washington Square Press in April 2007. Viramontes is, of course, the author of the classic collection, Moths and Other Stories (Arte Público Press). Sandra Cisneros says of the new novel: “Helena María Viramontes’ power is in her heartfelt observations about the forgotten poor. Not simply the poor, I mean the despised and reviled: the homeless, the immigrant, the cholas and cholos. This novel takes flight in its accurate portrayal of its characters’ language and landscape. She is as compassionate as John Steinbeck, as sweeping as the unflinching camera of Sebastiao Salgado.”

◙ Evelyn Cortez-Davis reads from her book, December Sky: Beyond My Undocumented Life (In Xochitl In Cuicatl Productions) at Tia Chucha's Café Cultural, 12737 Glenoaks Blvd., No. 22, Sylmar, CA. When: Saturday, January 6. Time: 6:00 p.m. Price: Free. For more information, call: 818-362-7060

◙ Writing for the Los Angeles Times yesterday, book editor David Ulin calls Daniel Alarcón a “face to watch in 2007.” He says in part: “Daniel Alarcón's first book, the story collection ’War by Candlelight,’ was the kind of debut young writers dream about…. With the upcoming publication of his first novel, ‘Lost City Radio,’ in February, Alarcón seems poised to leap to the forefront of a new generation of authors for whom fiction is less a matter of interior pursuits than a way to be engaged.” Read Ulin's complete comments here.

◙ ¡Feliz año nuevo! And may the new year bring many good things to you and yours. Until next Monday, remember: ¡Lea un libro!


msedano said...

what an interesting lineup of news. In the Viramontes review, who is Sebastiao Salgado. btw, many, many years ago, Helen Viramontes was a clerk in the Speech Depto at CSULA. Is this the same Helen--she was heading off to UCI the last time I saw her.

daniel olivas said...

this might be the same's her bio:

salgado is a photographer: