Exciting Latino Writers Series Returns to Kansas City
For the third year, Kansas Citians will have a chance to hear some of the usually unheard voices of local and national Latino writers speak with passion and power about their experience in the Tercera Página (Third Page) Reading Series, which will offer four events in 2009. Over the past two years, the series has pulled standing-room-only audiences and received much publicity, bringing the community-at-large various pictures of the Latino experience at distinct odds with much of the anti-Hispanic, anti-immigrant rhetoric that has become all too common. Designed to showcase the work of Latino writers and provide role models for local youth, Tercera Página is coordinated by the Latino Writers Collective.
The first event—7:00 p.m., Wednesday, March 4, at Pierson Auditorium, University Center, UMKC, 50th & Rockhill—will feature a cast of high school and college students performing, “Breaking Piñatas,” a cultural performance of original poetry, drama, dance, and music, created and directed by Latino Writers Collective member, Chato Villalobos, a KCMO police officer in his day job. This will be a new, expanded version of the popular event (with guest performance by El Grupo Folklorico Atotonilco) that has moved to a larger venue since people had to be turned away last year for lack of space. The dynamic, dramatic show has garnered much praise in local arts and entertainment media and will include a question and answer session with the young performers afterward.
The second event in the series will take place at The Writers Place, 3607 Pennsylvania, at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, March 27, 2009. Reading from her work will be Gloria Vando. Vando’s most recent book of poems, Shadows and Supposes, won the 2003 Best Poetry Book of the Year Award from the Latino Literary Hall of Fame and the Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America. She has won numerous other awards and fellowships. She reads her poem, “Fire,” on the 2007 Grammy-nominated CD collection, Poetry on Record: 98 Poets Read Their Work, 1888-2006 (which features Tennyson, Browning, Walt Whitman, who were recorded by Edison when he invented the phonograph). A Puerto Rican born in New York City, Vando has had her poems adapted for the stage and presented at Lincoln Center and Off-Broadway. She is publisher and editor of Helicon Nine Editions, a small press she founded 30 years ago and for which she received the Kansas Governors Arts Award. In 1992, she and her husband, Bill Hickok, founded The Writers Place, a literary center in Kansas City, where they lived for many years. They now live in L.A.
Also reading will be Latino Writers Collective members, Carlos Duarte, Ignacio Carvajal, Miguel Morales, and Sofiana Olivera. The event will also feature the music of Melek Ta’us.
The next event will bring in nationally known poet, novelist, and short story writer, Sandra Cisneros, at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, April 16, 2000, to the Kansas City Library’s Central Branch, 14 W. 10th St., for a reception, reading, and book signing. Sandra Cisneros is considered a national treasure in Latina literature. Besides the “Genius” grant from the MacArthur Foundation, her many awards include, among others, the American Book Award, the PEN Center West Award, the Lannan Foundation Award, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, a Texas Medal of Arts, and two honorary doctorates. Her work has become part of the canon in universities around the country and the world. This year will mark the 25th anniversary of her great classic, The House on Mango Street, which is required reading in schools across the nation. She is the founder of the Macondo Foundation and Writers Conference and the organizer of the Latino MacArthur Fellows, los MacArturos. Her books, The House on Mango Street, Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories, Bad Boys, My Wicked, Wicked Ways, Loose Woman, and Caramelo, have been published in over 20 languages and included in many anthologies and textbooks. The event will also feature the music of Melek Ta’us.
The final event—7:00 p.m., Friday, May 15, at The Writer’s Place, 3607 Pennsylvania —will be the launch of the Latino Writers Collective fiction anthology, Cuentos del Centro: Stories From the Latino Heartland, and will feature readings by LWC members, Juanita Salazar Lamb, Jason Biggers, Natalie Olmsted, and Xánath Caraza. The event will also feature the music of Melek Ta’us. Last year’s poetry anthology gained national attention and praise and was a finalist for the USA Book News 2008 Award in Poetry. The 2008 series finale and anthology launch was cited by The PITCH as “beautifully diverse, crowded, and festive” and led to naming the Latino Writers Collective as one of 2008’s Best of Kansas City.
The series is co-sponsored by BkMk Press, Guadalupe Centers, Inc., Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City Hispanic News, the Kansas Department of Hispanic and Latino Affairs, Longview Community College, Mattie Rhodes Latino Cultural Arts Division, New Letters, Park University, UMKC College of Arts & Sciences, UMKC Multicultural Student Affairs, and The Writers Place. The series is made possible in part by funding from the Missouri Arts Council.