Politics, Poetry, Fiction, and Music and More in the Heart of the City
The 6th annual San Diego City College International Book Fair is this week (October 3rd to the 8th), and it offers an impressive line-up of writers, poets, and musicians including:
- Marjorie Cohn, editor of The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse;
- Cris Mazza, author of Various Men Who Knew Us as Girls;
- Zohreh Ghahremani, author of Sky of Red Poppies;
- lê thi diem thúy, author of The Gangster We Are All Looking For;
- Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, author of One Amazing Thing;
- Wanda Coleman, author of Jazz & Twelve O’clock Tales and The World Falls Away and contributor to Mamas and Papas: On the Sublime and Heartbreaking Art of Parenting, an anthology published by City Works Press;
- Austin Straus, author of Intensifications;
- Luis Rodriguez, author of Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. and It Calls You Back: A Writer’s Odyssey through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing.
As book fair director, Virginia Escalante, notes: “The fair features a diverse line-up with authors of African, African-American, Chicano, Iranian, Vietnamese, Filipino, and Indian descent. As part of the fair’s tradition of addressing topical issues, Marjorie Cohn, a professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, will examine our country’s policy of interrogation, incarceration, torture, and abuse. The talk marks the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and the U.S. government’s subsequent violations of the Constitution, treaties, and laws prohibiting torture. Cohn is past president of the National Lawyers Guild and testified before Congress on the Bush Administration policy of torture. The fair will also feature a concert by the 18-piece Bill Caballero Bi-National Mambo Orchestra and an art exhibit of sculptures made of recycled materials.”
The City College International Book Fair was initiated six years ago in large part to help promote City College’s San Diego City Works Press (a project of the San Diego Writers Collective), the only press in the city set up by local authors to help promote the local literary scene and local letters. As the City Works Press mission statement outlines: “The San Diego Writers Collective is a group of San Diego writers, poets, artists, and patrons dedicated to the publication and promotion of the work of San Diego area artists of all sorts. Our specific interests include local, ethnic, and border writing as well as formal innovation and progressive politics . . . City Works Press is committed to creating a literary culture in a city where no press dedicated to the publication of local writing exists.
This year’s fair will serve as the release event for City Works Press’s 2011 offering, Wounded Border/Frontera Herida: Readings on the Tijuana/San Diego Region and Beyond, edited by Justin Akers Chacón and Enrique Dávalos. The editors will preside over a panel discussion on Friday, October 7th in the Saville Theatre at 6:00 PM. A book signing will follow the panel (copies will be available for purchase), and then there will be a performance by the Bill Caballero Bi-National Mambo Orchestra to close out the evening.
As Escalante explains in a blurb on Wounded Border/Frontera Herida, “Astute scholars from California examine the geopolitical dynamics of the U.S.-Mexican border in this eye-opening anthology. They have not only studied, but also given voice to those subjected to the inhumane conditions created by a geographical boundary and its attendant globalization policies. Each contributor combines historical context and analysis with fascinating narratives that deepen our understanding of topics such as the criminalization and trauma suffered by deportees; the horrors of daily living in Juarez; NAFTA’s environmental destruction; and the role of Mexican workers and immigrants in labor struggles in Mexico and the U.S.”
Wounded Border/Frontera Herrida is a collection of essays, which were selected from research papers presented at the 1st Binational Conference on the US-Mexico Border Issues at San Diego City College on December 1st, 2010. Co-editor Dávalos thinks the anthology is important because of its unique portrayal of life in the border region: “For years, the border region has been a lab for globalization. Economic and political models that today are imposed from Tijuana to Chiapas were designed in Juarez’s barrios, Nuevo Laredo’s industrial parks, or in Tijuana’s jails or bars. But this is our home and we have to live here. The cover photo by Maria Teresa Fernandez is a portrait of our lives. Our community lives on both sides of the border and the wall at the border divides and hurts us; but it cannot stop our laughter or undermine the solidarity of the people. When we see the vain efforts from la migra and the immigrant-hunters to divide us, we wonder if ‘border control’ is just a smoke screen that conceals a larger corporate project.”
On Saturday, October 8th at 3:30, renowned Los Angeles poet Wanda Coleman will grace the stage of the Saville Theatre during final day of the book fair. Known as a seminal figure in the Los Angeles poetry underground, Coleman also has two poems in the City Works Press anthology, Mamas and Papas: On the Sublime and Heartbreaking Art of Parenting, edited by Kelly Mayhew and Alys Masek. City Works Press co-founder Mayhew notes that, “Wanda Coleman’s two poems in Mamas and Papas strip away any hint of sentimentality surrounding parenthood. In ‘’Tis Morning Makes Mother a Killer,’ Coleman plumbs the depths of poverty, hunger, and fear and their effects on a woman’s ability to mother her children. ‘Strapping,’ on the other hand, captures the sheer joy of playing piggyback with one’s father in an unguarded moment. Together, these two pieces sum up the arc of this anthology: terror and escape; bone crushing weariness and exuberant happiness.”
About the anthology as a whole, Mayhew says, “we put Mamas and Papas together to ‘speak the truth’ about what it is to be a parent—the sublime moments as well as those times of darkness or mind numbing boredom. Alys Masek and I chose to explore this terrain through poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction so that our book wouldn’t be a generic parenting guide. Rather, our anthology examines the art of raising (or not raising) children.”
As it heads into its sixth year, the San Diego City College International Book Fair continues to offer a unique experience for San Diegans—a top rate literary event with a thoroughly multicultural line-up that focuses on local, national, and international artists and brings them to a working class campus in the hub of the city. If you believe that culture is for everybody, not just for those who can afford it, this event is for you. The San Diego City College International Book Fair is FREE and open to the public. Readings begin on Monday, October 3rd and continue through the big weekend: Friday and Saturday, October 7th and 8th.
For the full line-up, schedule, and more on the 6th annual San Diego City College Book Fair see: www.sdcitybookfair.com