Sunshine/Noir II: A Continuing Exploration of Literary San Diego and Tijuana

by on October 12, 2015 · 0 comments

in Culture, History, Labor, Media, Ocean Beach, Politics, San Diego, Under the Perfect Sun

San Diego City Works Press Celebrates 10th Anniversary with Anthology:
“Sunshine/Noir II: Writing From San Diego and Tijuana”

Friday, October 16th at 6:00 PM at the Glashaus Mainspace
1815 Main Street in Barrio Logan

Sunshine Noir IIBy Jim Miller

This fall, San Diego City Works Press marks its 10th anniversary with the release of Sunshine/Noir II: Writing from San Diego and Tijuana, an anthology of local writing about San Diego edited by Kelly Mayhew and myself.

As we note in the introduction to the anthology:

It’s been ten years since San Diego City Works Press published its first book, Sunshine/Noir: Writing from San Diego and Tijuana and, much to our surprise in many ways, we are still here.

Despite the trials and tribulations of running a very small, entirely volunteer, non-profit press, the members of the San Diego Writers Collective and other supporters of San Diego City Works Press have kept our beautifully useless endeavor afloat because, unfortunately, we still occupy a unique space in San Diego’s cultural landscape as the only local press primarily dedicated to publishing books by San Diego writers.

And while many people may still feel that, as a disinterested literary agent once told one of our writers, “nobody cares about San Diego outside of San Diego except as a place to come and get a tan,” there are still a good number of us here beneath the postcard laboring away, trying to write in and/or about what artists David Avalos, Louis Hock, and Elizabeth Sisco once called “America’s Finest Tourist Plantation.”
. . .

Contemporary San Diego maintains its paradoxical sunshine and noir identity, but as the city has grown, it has become increasingly difficult for the boosters to conceal its ugly corners.

An old bumper sticker used to express beach chauvinism by proclaiming: “There is no life east of I-5.” In 2015, however, the life east of Interstate 5 (the highway that cordons off the beach communities and downtown from the rest of the inland areas) has made itself known and is changing the face of the city, even more so today than when the first volume of Sunshine/Noir was published. San Diego is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the United States.

It also has one of the largest gaps between the rich and poor in California and juxtaposes a carefree postcard reality with a massive military industrial complex and a heavily fortified international border. San Diego County goes from the desert to the sea, contains mountains, wild spaces, and the sprawling suburbs which threaten them. In many ways, it is a region on the cutting edge of the Pacific Rim.

Still, no major literary culture has evolved despite the large numbers of novelists, poets, and nonfiction writers who live and work in the area. Works . . . appear, but almost never seem to do more than ripple our placid waters. It feels at times that we are trapped in our own hall of mirrors. In sum, despite a few noble efforts, San Diego is still a city in need of a literary voice, a cultural identity that goes beyond the Zoo, Sea World, Legoland, and the beach.

With Sunshine/Noir II we persist in our romantic, perhaps Sisyphean, effort to address this need and expose the true face of “the other San Diego.”

Like the first edition of Sunshine/Noir this anthology presents the reader with a wide range of contemporary San Diego writers of fiction and nonfiction alike as well as poets, artists and photographers. It explores San Diego and Tijuana’s border culture; San Diego’s multiple identities and lost history; the city’s natural beauty and endangered ecologies; its role as a center of the culture of war; and San Diego writers’ attempts to explore the meaning of place. By using a multicultural, multidisciplinary, pan-artistic approach, this anthology offers the reader a fresh look at a city yet to be explored in such a fashion.

Sunshine/Noir II is not comprehensive, but rather stands only as a place marker in the continuing exploration of literary San Diego that leaves many borders yet to be crossed. This anthology includes many acclaimed and award-winning poets and writers as well as emerging authors. While most of the authors anthologized here are from San Diego, a few are not, though we welcome them as good hosts. All in all, we think we have assembled a gorgeous hybrid monster. Enter at your own risk.

Sunshine/Noir II marks the ten-year anniversary of San Diego City Works Press, a project of the San Diego Writers Collective. 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. The Collective’s main focus is local, but we have engaged in occasional collaborations with writers from around the world. City Works Press is a non-profit press, funded by local writers and friends of the arts, committed to the publication of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and art by members of the San Diego City College community and the community at large.

Sunshine/Noir II is dedicated to the late local poet Steve Kowit, who was an original member of the San Diego Writers Collective and, as so many San Diego writers can attest to, a fellow traveler and one of our community’s great treasures. His work appears in the anthology along with poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from Sandra Alcosser, Marilyn Chin, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Stephen-Paul Martin, Mel Freilicher, Elizabeth Cazessús, Perry Vasquez, and many more.

Local journalist Kinsee Morlan formerly of San Diego City Beat as well as Doug Porter, Anna Daniels, Brent Beltran, and Frank Gormlie of the SD Free Press and OB Rag appear in the anthology along with former SDUT Book Review editor and columnist Arthur Salm.

We invite you to join us for our release event, the finale of the San Diego City College International Book Fair this Friday, October 16th at 6:00 PM at the Glashaus Mainspace at 1815 Main Street, Suite B in Barrio Logan . There will be readings, music, art, food, drink, and books for sale.

To buy a copy of Sunshine/Noir II or any other San Diego City Works Press book go here.


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