Writers, Roberto Lovato and Héctor Tobar, in Conversation at Re/Arte Centro Literario

Roberto Lovato, author of Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs, and Revolution in the Americas, will be joined by another voice of the unheard, author and journalist Héctor Tobar, at Re/Arte literary center on Saturday, Nov. 6 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Copies of Lovato’s groundbreaking memoir, named New York Times “Editor’s choice”, will be available for sale and signing.

Although Roberto resides at The Writers Grotto in his hometown, San Francisco, he is known for his story-telling journalism that covers violence and terrorism all over the world. As a Pulitzer grant recipient he has covered crises in Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador (where his
parents migrated from), Dominican Republic, Haiti, France, and the United States.

The conversation will be led by Héctor who’s New York Times bestseller, Deep Down Dark:
The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, allows him to understand Roberto’s
passion for sharing stories that are ignored for political and economic gain. They will be
discussing the memoir as well as giving insights on writing, literature, and publishing.

Re/Arte is a literary and art space run/owned by Viva Padilla. Re/Arte is the headquarters of Dryland, a literary journal born in South Central Los Angeles, Hombre Lobo, and Ponte LAs Pilas Press. Re/Arte looks to host a number of events such as film screenings, book readings, open mic nights, workshops, author talks, a literacy program for youth y más.

Questions from our IG Followers for Viva Padilla, EIC of Dryland

Thank you to all our Instagram followers for sharing your questions with Editor-in-Chief Viva Padilla of Dryland literary journal.

Viva shares a few tips to help you in your writing journey, overcoming some of the challenges in the publishing world, and how else you can collaborate with us. Remember, submissions to Issue 11 are open until April 20th, 2021. Los editors are hoping to read your best work!

Also, we invite you to join us on Thursday, April 1st, for FUTURE NOW, a virtual Los Angeles Black & Brown reading and open mic series happening every first Thursday of the month. We will be hosting this event via zoom from 7-9 PM PST. For more info & how to sign up, click here. ¡Nos vemos!

What makes a piece stand out the most?

There are at least three things that make a poem stand out that I am conscious about. A poem might have all these things going on that makes it fly or it might just have one: a sincere voice, a succinct use of language, a boldness in it the way it conveys its message without preaching. The thing is to try to hit as many as you can (and more in the spiritual, psychic, and other planes) when you write. Sometimes, though, a poem might hit me in such a way that I can’t describe what happened. That’s usually when I know something must be published. It’s a gut feeling mostly.

Is it bad taste to submit poems written and performed years back?

If a poem has wings, even though a good amount of time has passed, it will still fly.

Will you be publishing other authors’ books in the future?

My plan is to publish poetry collections under Ponte Las Pilas Press and another press I am looking to get together. When is another question. I need to find some poets to publish first. I hope that through the FUTURE NOW reading and open mic series we find our future authors.

When is the last day to submit?

The last day to submit this year is April 20. Last day to submit to our journal we hope never comes. <3

What are the guidelines to submit?

Our submission guidelines are pretty straightforward and easy to follow. You can send us an email or go through Submittable. If you go through Submittable you’re going to have to upload files. Not everyone has subscriptions or access to Microsoft Word so it’s ok if you just type it up in an email and send it like that. You could even take a picture of something handwritten and send it like that if you are in a circumstance where you don’t have 24/7 access to the internet. Send at least one poem; three is better.

Hey love, are you interested in visuals by any chance?

I am always looking for artists to feature on the cover and inside the journal. Right now, there’s no official process, so there’s nowhere to submit for consideration. If you’re an artist, the best thing to do is to just email me with links to your work or DM me.

Editing approaches tips? ¿Consejos?

I think the thing is not to fall in love with your own words. Once you get emotionally attached to the way you wrote something you won’t want to make any changes to it. If you can take an “unemotional” step back and care about how you wrote something, you’ll start to see how great the piece could become.

Aside from submitting, how else can we collaborate?

There is a lot I still want to do, so I’m always itching to collaborate. If you have an idea for a photo essay, short film, podcast, reading, book, play– anything really– that you think I might be down for, just get in contact with me.

What is/was the hardest part of starting a publishing press?

With how cheap the cost of printing a book is nowadays (thanks to print-on-demand), I can’t even say that the funding is the hardest. I think the hardest thing for me is just all the work that is involved beyond creating a book. For a long time I was doing all the social media, PR, maintaining the website, booking authors, organizing readings, all that. Now there’s 4-5 of us working on the whole thing so it’s not just me alone anymore. I think that’s been the hardest but I think it’s also what makes the whole thing work. If we don’t stay connected to the community, the journal doesn’t happen. And if the journal doesn’t happen, no one gets read. 

Community Not Competition: Q&A with Women Who Submit Editors

By Viva Padilla

When it comes to submitting work to literary magazines for publication consideration, there are two strategies:

1. Submit everywhere and submit often.

2. Network with publishers and get solicited.

Creating connections to publishers is a great way for those of us mujeres who prefer to work smarter and not harder in order to get a sure shot at getting published. Women Who Submit recognizes this. Through their organization, with various chapters in the US, Canada, and Mexico, they bring together women/femmes/non-binary folks of color to both submit and network. Earlier this year, WWS released their first anthology ACCOLADES, pre-pandemic, as a celebration of the waves women writers of color have made in the cis white men/women dominated literary landscape.

Viva Padilla hit up the ACCOLADES editors Tisha Reichle-Aguilera and Rachael Warecki to get an inside look at the org.

Viva Padilla: Community not competition seems to be the driving force behind Women Who Submit. How important is community, specifically among women/femmes/non-binary folks, when it comes to all things literary?

Editors: It is everything! The inspiration for this organization was the VIDA Count in 2011, a survey of the lack of gender parity in top tier literary magazines. Our goal is to empower women and non-binary writers to send their work out strategically. We offer in-person (when we can) and online resources for finding the best opportunities for each writer’s work. We also support writers who want to apply to residencies and fellowships. This was our first time as managing editors and what a steep learning curve. We made smart choices early by consulting with Sarah Rafael García of LibroMobile who has curated the anthology pariahs: writing from outside the margins and partnering with Nikia Chaney of Jamii Publishing.

ACCOLADES was truly a collaborative effort. Rachael was completely responsible for all the design work, including the amazing cover; Tisha focused on communication with contributors. Women Who Submit’s three co-founders documented their discussion about our origins and growth in the foreword and other members of the leadership team served as poetry and nonfiction editors. Our goal was to feature pieces where women and non-binary characters are portrayed prominently in a positive manner and pieces that include multiple identities or marginalized perspectives. While we couldn’t include all the wonderful work that was submitted, we tried to curate a variety of innovative work that was representative of our community of writers.

Viva: In your heart/mind, what is the importance of ACCOLADES?

Editors: The anthology is a celebration of submission, acceptances, and publications by the members of our organization. It is another way to clap and cheer for writers and their previously published work. To echo our director and co-founder, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, “The work in this anthology is necessary, questioning, and honest.” This collection reflects the diverse voices of our literary community.

Viva: Which poems have touched you and why?

Editors: The poetry editors selected some exceptional work for the anthology. We were moved by the way LiYun Alvardo’s “Hechizo Para Congelar” plays with language and form in a powerful way. Cybele Garcia Kohel’s poem “Chamomile Hair” and Anita Gill’s essay “Hair” both offer compelling perspectives on mother-daughter relationships. As the fiction editors, we also looked for stories that offered something we had not seen before and we were captivated by Lituo Huang’s “Passenger.”

Viva: What kind of support does WWS offer mujeres/femmes/non-binary folks?

Editors:At our monthly submission parties, we offer Submission Fee grants for writers who apply. Twice a year we award the Kit Reed Travel Fund for Women and Non-binary Writers of Color. Submissions for the second 2020 award will open July 1. Every fall, we have an annual Submission Blitz to support writers who want to send their work to top tier journals. Last month, thanks to donations from allies, we also offered relief grants for writers affected by COVID-19.

Viva: Are there any socially distant events where we can check out the contributors?

Editors: The contributors to our anthology were featured daily reading their poems, stories, and essays on Instagram @WomenWhoSubmit. There is a monthly WWS open mic led by one of our community members. We also have an archive of previous guest speakers from our monthly submission parties available on our Facebook page. There, writers can also find Calls for Submission.

Viva: Do you have any advice for young woman/femme/non-binary writers and poets who want to start getting published?

Editors: WRITE! The most important advice is to put the words on the page. REVISE! Share work with other writers you trust to get feedback. READ! See what is being published by journals you like and that will guide you to find the right places for submitting your work for publication. Also read the weekly WWS blog where you will find advice about writing, submitting, and interviews with editors.

Accolades: A Women Who Submit Anthology can be purchased here

Women Who Submit can be found on their website, and social media.

Like Bullets For Fascists: Q+A with Political Poet Matt Sedillo

Chicano revolutionary poet Matt Sedillo met up with Viva Padilla (proper masks were worn) in El Sereno this past weekend to catch up and talk about his newest poetry collection Mowing Leaves of Grass (published by FlowerSong Press). During this interview they drove around the Eastside. They came upon a squeaky clean Black Lives Matter/Defund the Police protest in Pasadena, boarded up and tagged “R.I.P. George Floyd” storefronts in the belly of high gentrification in Highland Park, and the homeless encampment at the Veteran’s Monument in El Serenoa proper backdrop for the political insight Sedillo delivers like a gun-slinger in his book where American institutions rooted in white supremacy are dragged out by the hair and left on the side of the road to rot.

Viva Padilla: Over the past decade you have built quite the reputation traveling the country and establishing yourself as a celebrated political poet. Much of your work is very historically dense and well researched. Why have you chosen poetry as the vehicle to get out your message?

Matt Sedillo: It wasn’t so much a choice as something I really fell into. The reality is I learned all I know from a library card and Wi-Fi connection. My route into the movement came not through the academy nor a background in organizing but rather from writing poetry that tackled issues of class struggle, Chicano history, general US history, US imperialism, the destruction of the environment and various other issues and causes of our day.

There are some real advantages to being a poet in how fluid I have been able to move from rallies to conferences to performance to workshops to working with historians and journalists. For me poetry has always been more a vehicle than a destination but I do take the craft very seriously. I love fighting the good fight. I love writing poetry. I am a lucky guy to get to do both simultaneously.

“The Melting Pot / Was never meant for the hands/ That clean it” (Pilgrim)

Viva: Your latest collection is entitled Mowing Leaves of Grass. Why did you choose to go after Walt Whitman and have you have gotten any blowback?

Matt: “What has miserable, inefficient Mexico—with her superstition, her burlesque upon freedom, her actual tyranny by the few over the many—what has she to do with the great mission of peopling the new world with a noble race?” – Walt Whitman

That is a direct quote and there is no context to rectify it. The book is largely about the Rebrowning of America and the political response, namely the rise of Trump and his base of support.

As to backlash, white liberals in the literary community have attacked it on a few occasions as many of them see Walt Whitman and Donald Trump as polar opposites. I am Mexican, Chicano, I make no distinctions between anti-Mexicans.

I think Walt Whitman was talented. But he was a racist who hated Mexicans among others. I am also talented. Lots of us are. You’re very talented. The authors you publish are very talented. Our community does not need to look up to the Walt Whitmans of the world. We do not need to look up to people who look down upon us. Our efforts would be better spent seeking out, supporting and fostering the genius from within our own community.

“I am feudalism /I am slavery /I am the free market /I am the one percent/ I am capitalism/ And I will watch your children starve/ To satisfy my greed” (The Devil)

Viva: Who are you trying to reach with this book?

Matt: In many ways Mowing Leaves of Grass represents my Chicano studies book. It has found a home with radical educators much more so than the literati and I am happy with that. I want people who share these politics to get the book and feel engaged and ready to contribute to the struggle. As a political poet I really want to rally people and ignite their passions. If they are encouraged to further research some of the allusions made in the poems all the better; my primary goal, however, is always to rally people to fight.

Viva: You are published under FlowerSong Press who have been doing dope work in Texas. How did this working relationship come about and what has your experience been?

Matt: With a handshake. Edward Vidaurre and I were booked for an appearance at UCLA. He was staying with his mom in Boyle Heights. I picked him up and we just started talking—next thing I knew I had a deal with FlowerSong.

As to being on the press, the experience has been incredible. It’s a growing press with a lot of ambition. In the coming years FlowerSong is a place where legends will be made. I have no doubt about that.

Viva: Anything else in the works?

Matt: Yes. I am working on a few all to be published with FlowerSong. My next title is going to be called City on the Second Floor. If Mowing Leaves of Grass is my Ethnic Studies book then City on the Second Floor is very much my poetic foray into Marxist Geography. Look out for it next year.

“The boys in blue/ The killing crew /

Authorized lynch mob / Death squad /

America signed with a bullet/

Five pigs to one teenager / Hands cuffed behind his back /

Loud proud frat boys walk by / Drinking from flasks/

Black youth is criminalized /

White crime / Is state sanctioned…” (Once)

Purchase Mowing Leaves of Grass by Matt Sedillo in our online lit store