Houston’s only Spanish literary series complements other local efforts to showcase diverse Latinx writers

Colombian writer Margarita García Robayo will be featured on Inprint’s “Escritores en la casa” series on March 3 / Courtesy of Inprint

Close to 40% of Houston’s population is Spanish speaking, and the city is a geographic and cultural pathway to Latin America.

“We believe it’s important to present a literary series that reflects this,” said Krupa Parikh, Associate Director of Inprint – a literary nonprofit that has presented readings and programs in Houston for nearly four decades.

In 2018, Inprint founded Escritores en la casa, which remains the city’s only Spanish-language literary series. That distinction is based on Houston Arts Journal’s review of multiple local organizations and corroborated by sources in the writing community.

Conducted entirely in Spanish (besides a brief introduction in English at each event), the reading series –which is free – features acclaimed authors from Latin America, Spain, and the U.S. It is curated by literary experts with direct ties to the genre.

“We think it’s important to leave the curation of the series to those that have a deep and complex understanding of contemporary Spanish language literature and are publishing books in Spanish,” said Parikh, who forms Inprint’s leadership with Executive Director Rich Levy.

“Therefore, we are thrilled and grateful to be working with Bolivian novelist and Inprint Advisory Board Member Rodrigo Hasbún, as well as Cristina Rivera Garza,” she said. Rivera Garza is the Director of the University of Houston’s Spanish-language Creative Writing Ph.D. Program – the first of its kind in the U.S.

Similar to Inprint’s longtime Margaret Root Brown Reading Series, authors on the Escritores en la casa series read from their works and are interviewed by a local writer during each event. Spring 2022 readings include:

March 3: Colombian writer Margarita García Robayo, winner of the Casa de las Américas Prize and the English PEN Award, will be interviewed by Rose Mary Salum, founder and director of the bilingual magazine Literal, Latin American Voices and the publishing house Literal Publishing.

Alejandra Costamagna / Courtesy of Inprint

March 24: Chilean writer Alejandra Costamagna, winner of the Anna Seghers Prize for Literature in Germany and a finalist for the 2018 Herralde Prize, will be interviewed by Rodrigo Hasbún, novelist and Inprint Advisory Board Member.

Rodrigo Rey Rosa / Photo credit: sololiteatura.com

April 21: Guatemalan writer Rodrigo Rey Rosa, considered one of the most prominent writers on the Guatemalan literary scene, will be interviewed by Saúl Hernández-Vargas, an interdisciplinary artist, writer, and Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Houston.

Readings start at 7pm CT and are virtual this season. Free reservations can be made online.

While Inprint’s Escritores en la casa is the only series of its kind in Houston, there have been numerous efforts over the years to showcase the diverse stories, identities, and activities within the local Latinx literary landscape.

Parikh points out that one-off readings and other events take place around Houston, adding: “Literal by Rose Mary Salum does amazing work championing Spanish authors, and there is a group called Escritores Cronopios that gathers local Spanish writers in a sort of open mic. There is also an annual [international literature] festival by Casa Cultural de las Americas.”

Tintero Projects supports Gulf Coast-based Latinx writers through workshops and poetry readings, and it recently co-organized the 5th Annual Sin Muros: A Borderless Teatro Festival.

Lupe Mendez, Tintero’s co-founder, says that his organization is working to bring back its open mic, which has been slow to revitalize during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mendez is also in the process of planning projects and initiatives for his term as 2022 Texas Poet Laureate, which officially begins in May.

Writer-activist Tony Diaz founded Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say in 1998.

“It is a literary movement that began as a reading series featuring nationally published writers and new writers from the community in English, Spanish, and Spanglish,” said Diaz. “We have expanded to include multi-platform broadcasts from radio to social media.”

Though his organization has “curtailed in person events due to COVID-19,” Diaz continues to present Latinx writers on his radio show, which airs Tuesdays at 11am on KPFT.

He also says that Nuestra Palabra places a community representative in every Houston City Council District, in order to organize events in that district. And he is anticipating more activities next year for Nuestra Palabra’s 25th Anniversary.

Parikh says she thinks Inprint’s Escritores en la casa series complements the “awesome” and “important” work of these local organizations – many of whom have collaborated with Inprint or become friends through their shared love of the Houston literary scene.

For Mendez, the admiration is mutual.

“With such a diverse literary landscape for Latinx writers and Latin American writers, it is remarkable to have such a variety of offerings … Inprint and Escritores en La Casa contain such a beautiful moment of literary oro – gold and light everytime they open their doors,” said Mendez.

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