Tuesday, January 05, 2010

What Will 2010--the Proverbial "New Decade"--Bring for American Latina/o Authors?

Here's my wish: inspiration, perseverance, exposure, recognition, and continued melding into mainstream American "publication" in all its manifestations: print, electronic, and entertainment venues.

Of course, dearest to my heart is the literary arena, because this involves schools and classrooms, literature and composition courses from grade school through universities, and this is where quality is presented, analyzed, discussed, and worked with, in projects, plays, panel discussions, role-playing, etc... year after year, decade after decade, and even through centuries.

  • Literature endures and forms part of a nation's cultural foundation.
  • Literature creates an identity for large groups of people, and helps people understand one another: our histories, our struggles and achievements, our universality and brotherhood across racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural divides.
  • Literature is the finest expression in words of our hopes and dreams...of our souls!
So my strongest wishes for the New Year are:
  • that the literary creations of American Hispanics--men and women, young and old, across all genres, across our nation--shall ever more strongly integrate into the tapestry of AMERICAN LITERATURE;
  • that our literary contributions shall not only be recognized and published, but that our creations shall be of such quality, they are respected, quoted, cited, and spoken of in the same breath as are the literary works of other respected "mainstream" authors today;
  • that our literary creations shall be read in classrooms across America and will be discussed and analyzed with all the attention and valuing that traditional authors have received in English classrooms throughout time;
  • that students of all colors and all ages shall be exposed to the literature of American Hispanic authors so that, in time, our literature will be--quite simply--AMERICAN LITERATURE, with all the cultural respect that term carries.

To my knowledge, no American Hispanic (Latina/o born in the United States, which is the focus of my blog) has ever won a literary Pulitzer Prize. They may have been nominated, and they may have won other respectable prizes...but not the Pulitzer. I welcome my readers to correct me. Write me an email and set me straight!

Yet the literary Pulitzer Prize is the strongest affirmation that our country bestows upon its authors. It brings with it the credibility and admiration that authors generally want. It helps to insure the longevity of that author's words, the weight these words carry, the meanings that generations of readers will dissect and reflect upon. The Prize helps authors be inducted into the realm of AMERICAN LITERATURE.

May 2010 be a year in which an American Latina/o writer is not only nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, but the year in which the Prize is won. And if this is not to be, may 2010 be the year in which many American Latina/o authors begin seriously laying the groundwork to deserve and win such an honor.


U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt spoke movingly about "the man in the arena"--a person who has the courage to put himself/herself "out there," to take risks, to take action to pursue his or her dreams, to make things happen. The man in the arena might get knocked down, might fail, but this person continues to actively pursue whatever goals he or she has set, continues striving toward success.

May 2010 be the year in which American Latina/o writers today shed our fears of literary rejection. May it be the year in which we shed our doubts about our abilities to make the written word sing. May it be the year in which we create, create, and create some more and send our writings by the thousands to literary journals, magazines, newspapers, and editors all over America!

May 2010 be the year in which vaunted literary journals like Glimmer Train and Tin House are swamped with story and poem submissions by American Latinas/os in numbers unseen before! May it be the year in which they--and other prominent literary venues that rarely publish Latina/o authors--realize our critical mass and take notice that our literature needs to take its place in mainstream literature...that our writings are highly worthy of being published by the best and read and adored by the best.

May 2010 be the year in which prestigious, highly exclusive annual anthologies--such as Best American Short Stories of 2009, or Best American Poems of 2009, for example--include a respectable number of American Latina/o authors in its pages...or, at least, the year in which our Hispanic authors lay the groundwork for this happening next year.

Let's put ourselves "in the arena." Let's show, in large numbers, what has been hiding in the literary shadows of America. And may it make us all proud!

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In a recent blog, I spoke about Pasadena author, Randy Jurado Ertll, who has recently published his first book, a memoir titled Hope in Times of Darkness. Randy is a Salvadoran-American, and his book is doing well, I'm very happy to say. Here is some information about an upcoming reading/discussion that Randy will hold in Pasadena. All are invited.

WHEN: Friday, January 8, 2010 12:00 p.m.
WHERE: La Pintoresca Public Library
1355 North Raymond Avenue, Pasadena , CA 91103-2235