Bronx Book Fair Q & A with Charlie Vázquez

This month, I will be doing a series a interviews with participants in this year’s Bronx Book Fair.  I am currently on the planning committee and am so excited to introduce you to some of the amazing writers that will be a part of this amazing literary event.

First up is Charlie Vázquez, the Director of the Bronx Writers’ Center as well as Editorial Trance CCO and NYC Coordinator for Festival de la Palabra de Puerto Rico.
 
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Are you from the Bronx? If so, which neighborhood?

 

I was born in Fordham Hospital in 1971 and grew up near Crotona/West Farms in my earliest years. We moved to Fordham in the mid-1970s and then to the Olinville neighborhood where my mother still lives. I live in the Pelham Parkway area currently.

 

Does the Bronx play a role in your writing? If so, please explain.

 

The Bronx plays a very major role in everything about me. The stigma that being a Bronxite carried (and still carries) has given me the propulsion and fearlessness for writing whatever I feel like expressing, whether that be about my Puerto Rican and Cuban heritage, growing up poor, or identifying as a queer man later in life. Writing from marginalized perspectives takes a lot of courage and armor in the face of judgement and criticism–a radical act if you think about it. That energy has found its way into everything I’ve ever written, whether poetry or erotic fiction. If people would like to know more they can follow my Facebook author page.

 

 What are you most looking forward to at the Bronx Book Fair? 

 

This will be my third year at the Bronx Book Fair. What I love most about it is that it creates the opportunity for local readers to learn about local authors. Disengagement with literature is a serious issue that we need to address. One way of doing this is by supporting local authors who are publishing books with diverse protagonists and children-of-color.

 

What would you like attendees to take away from your talk? 

 

As relates to publishing, that there are options. Not to fall too quickly into the self-publishing platform out of temptation for instant gratification. Writing can be a solitary act, but writers benefit from finding peer groups and writing circles where they can share their work, to get the feedback necessary for making it the best it can be before publishing it. All books, regardless of style and voice, should be looked over by someone with a critical eye to make sure grammar and formatting are professional enough. Your book’s quality is a direct reflection of how professional you are.

 

Please tell us about any current or upcoming projects you are working on that we can look forward to. 

 

We’re collaborating with PEN World Voices for our Bronx:Africa exhibit in late April and we’ll be hosting three Poetry Town Halls (a new program I created) from April through June. We also have a fiction writers group that meets once a month at the Poe Park Visitor Center. That info can be found on our website and folks can write to me directly to request being added to the Bronx Writers Center newsletter.  My email is charlie@bronxarts.org.

 

Charlie Vázquez will be participating in the  Getting Published: How to Get Your Work in Readers’ Hands panel.

PEN World Voices Literary Conference THIS THURSDAY, May 7, 2015

This Thursday at the Bronx Museum, join writers from across the world for a day of writing workshops and author discussions featuring authors such as Chantel Acevedo, Billy Kahora (pictured below), and Boubacar Boris Diop. And did I mention it’s free?

Read below for more information.

“The Bronx is an immigrant borough and deserves worldly literary programming,” says Bronx Writers Center Director Charlie Vázquez. “The Bronx Council on the Arts was extremely excited to participate on this project and we’ll continue this win/win/win partnership for the benefit of Bronxites borough-wide.” Info and RSVP: http://bronxarts.orgBillyKahora

Bronx Writers’ Center Speed Writing Workshop

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I really miss being able to write. When I was in high school, I’d write all day, I’d set the mood in my house with some candles and incense and some nice music. It was really inspiring…and sexy lol. But, I just felt like I was always in the zone and if I wasn’t, it wasn’t hard to get there. Fast forward to now with work and grad school, I seldom find the energy to put into my writing. And it sucks. There’s this awesome writing group I sometimes go to and whenever I do, I feel amazing afterwards, like some people do after church, I imagine.  The problem is that it takes place at member’s houses all over the city and there’s no way I’m coming from Castle Hill on a weeknight and heading to Bed-Stuy or even the LES. So, when Nicole (a.k.a. Bronx Mama) suggested we go to one of the Bronx Writers’ Center’s free workshops this week, I was all for it.

Led by director Maria Romano, the group – an eclectic mix of young and young at heart, from all sorts of cultures and backgrounds- wrote in brief 15 minute bursts on a variety of prompts. Maria was excellent at creating a welcoming atmosphere, banishing judgment and criticism, most of which comes from ourselves, from the group.  The beauty of creative writing  is how many different ways people can manipulate a prompt. No two stories were the same. BWC will be holding another workshop next month and I’ll be sure to post information so you all can check it out. It was so great to finally experience a taste of the Bronx literary scene.