La Vida Literaria!
By C.M. Mayo
in the Washington DC Area
Spanish Language Writers & Translators
An abbreviated version of this article was published in
The Writers' Center Writers' Carousel, Nov-Dec 2004 as "Found in Translation"
is rich indeed. On a
single day this past September, I had a choice of three outstanding
Spanish language literary events: Ilán Stavans presenting
his book on "Spanglish" at the Library of Congress
Hispanic Division; a centennial celebration of the poetry of
Pablo Neruda at American University; and a reading of a new Spanish
language novel at the Instituto de México. Washington's
Spanish literary scene is, as McLean, Virginia-based poet Luis
Alberto Ambroggio says, "vibrant, and it's growing."
Many of the premier Spanish language literary venues are in embassies
and universities. The Library of Congress's Hispanic Division,
and university and public libraries have long been sources of
books and magazines in Spanish, and many offer book presentations,
lectures, and readings. But in just the last few years, there
has been an explosion of independent readings series, institutions,
groups, and even bookstores specializing in Spanish and literary
translation from Spanish. Here is a sampling of some of the best
and most active in the area.
READINGS, AND LECTURES
Named in honor of novelist and short story writer Katherine Anne
Porter and Nobel Prize-winning Spanish poet Juan Ramón
Jiménez, the Jiménez-Porter House is the University
of Maryland's center for the study of creative writing across
cultures and languages. Its reading series has included Forrest
Gander, a poet and translator of Mexican poetry, and Mónica
de la Torre, a Mexican poet and co-editor of the anthology Reversible
Monuments: Contemporary Poetry. This November 11 at 7 p.m. Lee
Gutkind and C.M. Mayo will present the "Mexican Voices"
special issue of Creative Nonfiction. All events are free and
open to the public. 0111 Dorchester Hall, Building 064, University
of Maryland, College Park, MD. For more information call (301)
405-0675 or visit http://www.writershouse.umd.edu
Iberoamerican Cultural Foundation
Founded by Alexandria, Virginia-based Argentinian poet and Spanish
professor Gladys Ilauregui, the Iberoamerican Cultural Foundation
plans to offer a fall calendar of tertulias, which she describes
as "a forum for Spanish writers in the area to present their
work and get in touch with the public." Recent events have
included a talk by Spanish language poet Nela Rio about the 15th
century poet Leonor de Ovando, and a conference on literary translation
with Margaret Sayers Peden, Jen Hofer, and Michael Miller, among
others. For more information, contact Gladys Ilarregui at firstname.lastname@example.org
Instituto de México
(Mexican Cultural Institute)
Housed in a historic mansion featuring stunning murals, this
cultural arm of the Mexican Embassy offers both Spanish and English-language
book presentations, readings, panel discussions, movies, concerts,
painting exhibits and more, all focusing on Mexico and/or Mexican
artists and writers. Recent events have included the bilingual
presentation and reading of Tameme, the bilingual journal; a
bilingual poetry reading with Mexican poets José Emilio
Pacheco, Pura López Colomé, and Tedi López
Mills. Fall events will include the presentation of Creative
Nonfiction's special issue, "Mexican Voices." Events
are free and open to the public. Note: parking is available.
2829 16th St NW, Washington DC 2009. For more information and
to request a free subscription to the calendar of events, call
(202) 232-8674 ext. 8 http://portal.sre.gob.mx/imw/
*Fun fact: One of the murals
includes a portrait of novelist Carlos Fuentes as a child wearing
overalls. It was painted when his father was ambassador to the
U.S. Look for it as you come up the grand staircase.
Bank Cultural Center
In the past the IDB Cultural Center has presented Carlos Fuentes,
Mario Vargas Llosa, José Saramago, and Ariel Dorfman,
among many other outstanding writers from the Americas. Program
Coordinator Anne Vena notes that "one of the most important
and interesting resources we have to offer is in our web pages:
The published remarks in Spanish of over 44 speakers who have
been presented in the series since 1993." Events are free
and open to the public. 1300 New York Ave NW, Washington DC 20577
(Located one block from Metro Center, 13th Street exit.) For
more information call (202) 623-3558 or visit http://www.iadb.org/cultural/eventlist.html
Library of Congress Hispanic
Literary lectures and readings by Spanish language writers and
poets are often scheduled. Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First
St SE, Washington DC. For more information call (202) 707-5400
or visit http://www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/events.html
The Martin Luther King Jr
Memorial Library and the Mt Pleasant Neighborhood Library (DC
A new series of bilingual (Spanish-English) book discussions
featuring local Latino authors at the Martin Luther King, Jr.
Memorial Library, and at the Mt. Pleasant Neighborhood Library
(see below, "Punto Viva") from October 19 through December
14, 2004. The series, "Exploring Latino Authors" features
13 book authors and poets from the Washington metropolitan area,
and book displays highlighting more than 200 books written by
Latino authors who live in the United States. The Exploring Latino
Author series is funded by a grant from the D.C. Public Library
Foundation. All events are free and open to the public.
November 3, 2004, at 6:30 p.m. at the Martin Luther King
Jr Memorial Library: Poets Luis Alberto Ambroggio from Argentina,
Naomi Ayala from Puerto Rico, Rei Berroa from the Dominican Republic,
Robert L. Girón, from the United States, Consuelo Hernßndez
from Colombia, and Gladys Ilarregui from Argentina, will read
their poems in a program moderated by Mario Marcel from Argentina.
This is a bilingual program, in English Spanish.
November 16, 2004, at 6:30 p.m., at the Mt. Pleasant Neighborhood
Library: Ecuadorian writer Carlos Chiriboga, author of Memorias
de Quito en el siglo XX, and Argentinean writer Julio César
Mosches, author of M. y el angel. This program is in Spanish
with an English language interpretation.
November 17, 2004, at 6:30 p.m., at the Martin Luther
King, Jr. Memorial Library: American writer Patrick Sanchez,
will discuss his book The Way It Is. This program is in English
with Spanish language interpretation.
December 14, 2004, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Martin Luther
King, Jr. Memorial Library: Young People's Poetry Marathon in
Spanish. (See "Teatro de la Luna" listing, below)
In addition to the books listed above, the public is also welcome
to read more than 200 fiction books by Latino writers living
in the United States. The books in English are on display in
the Popular Library Division at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Library, and the books in Spanish are on view at the Mt. Pleasant
All D.C. Public Library programs are free and open to the public.
Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library, 901 G Street, N.W., Washington,
D.C. 20001. For more information, call (202) 727-1183.
Mt. Pleasant Nieghborhood
Public Library (see "Punto
Vivo," listing below)
Para eso la Palabra (Paraíso
"For this, the Word," or "Paradise of the Word"
which in Spanish sound the same, is a collective that promotes
the work of Spanish speaking artists, musicians, writers, poets
and also Latino visual artists in the DC area. Para eso la Palabra
holds an event on the second or third Friday of every other month.
Be sure to check the web site for updates. Past participants
have included poets Alberto Avedaño, Quique Avilés,
Naomi Ayala, Rei Berroa, Milagros Terán, and writers Grego
Pineda and Mario Bencastro. For more informationvisit http://www.pelp.org
Punto Vivo" at the Mt. Pleasant Public Library
The first Tuesday of every month (except July and August) Punto
Vivo (a play on the term "dead center"), serves as
a gathering place for literature, music, and workshops, as well
as literary readings in English and in Spanish, as well as some
bilingual readings.16th and Lamont Streets, Washington DC. For
more information call the library at (202) 671-0200
Teatro de la Luna's "Poetry
Marathon" La Pluma y la Palabra / The Pen and the Word
Founded in 1991, the Teatro de Luna's mission is to provide the
Washington area with permanent access to theater from a Latin
American perspective and, more generally, promote Hispanic culture
and foster cross-cultural understanding between the Spanish-
and English-speaking communities of the region. Performances
are in Spanish with live English dubbing. Teatro de la Luna,
which means "moon theater," offers several distinct
programs, including the annual poetry marathon dedicated to promoting
local Hispanic poets, literature and the spoken word. So many
poets have participated that, in 2000, a separate young people's
poetry marathon in Spanish was created for students from kindergarten
through highschool. The next children's poetry marathon will
be December 14, 2004 at the Martin Luther King Library from 10-2
p.m. The next adults' marathon will be April 2, 2005 at the Rosslyn
Spectrum and will feature poets Luis Alberto Ambroggio, Rei Berroa,
Consuelo Hernández, and Orlando Rossardi. For information
on how to participate, see "calls for submissions"
Main stage and offices: 3700 S. Four Mile Run Dr., Arlington
VA 22206. For more information call (202)-882-6227 and (703)
548-3092 or visit www.teatrodelaluna.org
Translators without Borders
Open to translators of any language. Meetings feature speakers
and include open discussion. Speakers have covered topics as
diverse as the translation of movie subtitles and the translation
of limericks. This group is also actively involved with the annual
Translation Month bilingual poetry reading at the Martin Luther
King Library. Meets once monthly 6:30 - 8 p.m.
Borders Bookstore, lower level, 18th and L Streets NW, Washington
DC. For more information e-mail Sonya Simek email@example.com
or Lily Liu at LilyLiu99@aol.com
or call Mary Ann Brownlow, Borders Community Outreach Coordinator
at (202) 466-2152.
American Translators Association
This national organization catering to professional translators
is based in Alexandria, Virginia. Among many other benefits,
members receive The ATA Chronicle, which includes articles of
interest for literary translators. The ATA also has a "Literary
Division" and publishes Beacons, a journal of literary translation.
225 Reinekers Lane, Suite 590, Alexandria VA 22314. For more
information call (703) 683-6100 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit http://www.atanet.org
Q & A with
Robert L. Giron, Publisher,
and editor of Poetic
Voices Without Borders, an anthology of poems in English, French,
and Spanish, forthcoming Spring 2005.
Mayo: What have you published in Spanish translation?
Robert Giron: We have published Dreams and Other
Ailments / Suenos y otros achaques by Teresa Bevin (short
stories about the Hispanic experience in the USA) which won the
Bronze 2001 ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Award for Translation
and was a finalist in the 2002 Independent Publisher Book Award
for Multicultural Fiction. We have also published Canciones
para una sola cuerda / Songs for a Single String by the late
Jesus Gardea with my translations, which was a finalist in the
2003 Violet Crown Book Award sponsored by Barnes and Noble and
the Texas Writers' League. And also Dead Time / Tiempo muerto
by Carlos Rubio, a novel, which won the Silver 2003 ForeWord
Magazine's Book of the Year Award for Translation and was a finalist
in the 2004 Independent Publisher Book Award for Multicultural
Why are you interested in publishing Spanish language work?
Aside from being American, ethnically I have more Spanish ancestry
than any other, though I'm quite a cultural mix. Having Mexican
roots, of course, grounded me in the Spanish language as I heard
it spoken and being fluent in Spanish also facilitates my interest.
As the saying goes, the Spanish fire runs through my veins and
trying to maintain the languageis enhanced through the publications
since as an English professor, I confess, that I don't get many
opportunities to practice my Spanish; but that can also be said
about my French interests. So in short, one of the goals of Gival
Press is to encourage the use of Spanish.
C.M.: Do you have any advice for Spanish language writers?
For writers who speak only Spanish, it is crucial to learn English
if they plan on developing their writing career in the USA. This
is helpful to interact with editors/publishers, etc. and to hold
interviews and/or readings, though readings can be conducted
in Spanish only. For writers who write in English but who want
to break into the Spanish market, it would be wise to learn Spanish,
if not to interact in this market personally but to at least
develop a sense of the market, though because of the variety
of cultures (from the USA to Central American to Chile) it can
be a bit overwhelming. We have to remind ourselves that there
are several Spanish dialects as there are several English dialects.
Note: This article was published in late
2004. Robert Giron's trilingual anthology Poetic
Voices Without Borders has since been published to broad