Many in the industry have known for decades people of color are not represented enough in literature and the publishing world, and that concerns writers across the country. Over 12,000 people are expected to attend a major writing conference in San Antonio next week.
Two local authors weigh in on the controversy surrounding diversity in the world of writers, and what it means to host the Association of Writers and Writers Program (AWP) in a city with a 25% illiteracy rate.
The AWP Conference & Bookfair is the largest annual literary conference in North America. Writers gather in a different city every year to celebrate authors, teachers, writing programs, literary centers and small press publishers of that region. The Alamo City is hosting this year’s conference.
Pablo Miguel Martínez and Bárbara Renaud González say attendees should go beyond the walls of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and get to know the city’s culture and diversity, especially at a time when the debate over representation in print media has been recently highlighted on a national stage.
Martínez writes about the cultural richness of San Antonio — including its wealth of brilliant writers — but acknowledges the city’s illiteracy plays a role in holding back a community in representation, employment and education. Renaud González argues the publishing world does not understand Latino culture and alludes to the controversy surrounding the novel, “American Dirt,” as a prime example.
Pablo Miguel Martínez is a poet, essayist, writer and co-founder of CantoMundo, a national retreat-workshop for Latinx poets. His collection of poems, “Brazos, Carry Me,” received the 2013 PEN Southwest Book Award for Poetry.
The 2020 AWP Conference & Bookfair will take place March 4–7 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.