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14th Annual Literary Arts Festival


MONDAY, APRIL 19, 12:30 p.m., Griffin Gate

Grossmont College's 2010 festival will feature internationally acclaimed poet, fiction writer, and Co-Director of SDSU’s MFA Program in Creative Writing, Marilyn Chin. Her forthcoming Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen (Norton 2009) will rock your literary world. Kirkus calls Chin’s novel-in-stories an “uproarious debut that lays bare the complicated generational relationships of Chinese American women.” The raucous twin sisters in Chin’s book, Moonie and Mei Ling Wong, are known as the “double happiness” Chinese fast food delivery girls. Each day they load up a “crappy donkey-van” and deliver Americanized (“bad”) Chinese food to homes throughout their southern California neighborhood. United in their desire to blossom into somebodies, the Wong girls fearlessly assert their intellect and sexuality, even as they come of age under the care of their dominating, cleaver-wielding grandmother from Hong Kong. They transform themselves from food delivery girls into accomplished women, but along the way they wrestle with the influence and continuity of their Chinese heritage.  



TUESDAY, APRIL 20, 2:00 p.m., Griffin Gate

Write Out Loud returns to the Grossmont College Literary Arts Festival this year with another thematically connected anthology.  Write Out Loud, the brainchild of co-founders Walter Ritter and Veronica Murphy, is a dynamic and dramatic performance of short fiction and poetry staged by professional actors.  Past  "Write Out Loud" events have featured "Against the Odds"; “Leaves and. Turns”; "Stories of Love and Passion"; "Science Squared"; and "Giving Season."   Last year's Write Out Loud programme included works by Jamaica Kincaid, Kate Chopin, Maya Angelou, and the 2009 Literary Arts Festival keynote author, Jimmy Santiago Baca.

In this year's Write Out Loud, Chip Persons reads as a young Dubliner from James Joyce's "Araby"; Veronica Murphy's brogue beautifully accents Paul Vincent Carroll's "She Went by Gently"; Walter Ritter performs Emile Barrios's hilarious and quirky "Onomatopoeia"; and Steve Lone delivers a gritty, street-wise narrative of an excerpt from Ball Don't Lie, by Matt de la Pena, our 2010 Festival keynote author. 

Artistic Director, Co-Founder Veronica Murphy is a twenty year veteran of the San Diego stage and has acted with local companies including Cygnet Theatre Company, Lamb’s Players Theatre, North Coast Repertory Theatre, and Tonic Productions.  Her recordings of children's audio books can be reviewed at

Executive Director, Co-Founder Walter Ritter works with Ion Theatre and Lynx Performance and in the past has performed at Lamb’s Players Theatre, Sledgehammer, Moonlight Stage, Starlight and many others.  From the official Write Out Loud on the Internet:  "Write Out Loud is committed to inspire, challenge and entertain by reading short stories aloud for a live audience . . . . Many of us were read to as children – by mothers, grandfathers, teachers. But as adults, we rarely have the opportunity to sit back and listen to a story read to us aloud."



TUESDAY, APRIL 20, 6:00 p.m., Room 220

"AT RISE" is a set of directions written at the very start of a play, describing what the audience sees on the stage when the curtain rises.  For the works presented this year, At Rise! is a first foray into production, direction and practical stage craft that will lift the curtain on the future of these new dramatists.  Students from the Creative Writing Program's sequence of Drama Writing classes present an anthology of their new works in a staged reading that is written, directed, acted and produced by students for students.  The shows take the form of staged readings, rather than off-book performances:  actors will not be required to memorize their lines; blocking, set design and costuming will be minimized; and vocal performance will be emphasized.  The result is a "working draft" of a stage show permitting the playwrights a much needed learning opportunity to hear their own works-in-progress performed, giving audiences a rare glimpse into the writing process of drama and a valuable first look at how their work translates into its intended medium, whether on stage or on film and video. Past performances have included a range of genres and script categories, from screwball manners comedy to science fiction, and classical tragedy to experimental forms. At Rise! is student written, acted, produced, directed and organized by members of English 160:  Drama Writing.



WEDNESDAY, APRIL 21, 7:00 p.m., Griffin Gate

The 2010 Literary Arts Festival proudly presents acclaimed Iowa Writers’ Workshop grad and UCSD writing professor, fiction writer Sarah Shun-lien Bynum.   Author Zuwena "ZZ" Packer calls Bynum's first novel, Madeleine Is Sleeping (Harvest 2005), “A haunting, genre-breaking novel with all  the narrative energy of a mystery yet all the careful lyricism of a prose poem.” Equal parts fairy tale, fable, romance and bildungsroman, Madeleine Is Sleeping was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the Kafka Prize. Also a National Book Award Finalist, Bynum’s second work, Ms. Hempel Chronicles (Houghton 2008), is a fantastic collection of eight interconnected short fictions about Beatrice Hempel, a middle school English teacher. Annie Tully of Booklist writes that Ms. Hempel Chronicles is “charming without being quirky. The attention to detail is spectacular. “


NEW VOICES:  A Student Reading

THURSDAY, APRIL 22, 7:00 p.m., Griffin Gate

New Voices: A Student Reading, features standout students from the Grossmont College Creative Writing Program's current semester of courses, reading their original short fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, novel excerpts, drama, and mixed media literary works.  This popular event is often standing-room only and is well attended by students, faculty, family, friends, and the public of the greater Grossmont-Cuyamaca community.   Students are personally invited by their Creative Writing instructors to be included in the program, where they receive a well-earned opportunity to read their own work aloud, sometimes with remarkable performance ability.  Past New Voices readings have featured musical accompaniment, spoken word and hip hop performances, song, and video projects.



MONDAY, APRIL 26, 7:00 p.m., Griffin Gate, performing with guitarist and vocalist

Since its inception, San Diego City Works has proven to be our county’s most bold and exciting press. At last year’s festival, we marveled at Nancy Cary’s anthology Hunger and Thirst: Food Literature; this spring, prepare to be captivated by Lavandería: A Mixed Load of Women, Wash, and Words.  Lavandería, edited by Donna J. Watson, Michelle Sierra, and Lucia Gbaya-Kanga, initiates us into one of the most sacred domestic rituals of our mundane world—the purging of physical and psychic stains, or the art and work of doing laundry. The writers' voices rise above the sounds of washing machines, non-televised daytime dramas, and laughter. Removing the clothespins from their mouths, these women reveal their secrets, fears, loves, and regrets in poem and story form.  As finely detailed as the vintage sleeve of a rummage sale find, the work in Lavanderia brings the circle closer to home as you find yourself nodding and remembering and thanking every woman who ever sat next to you in a Laundromat and made conversation. (Maricela Norte)

This year, you can catch a convenient, live daytime prevue of Lavandería on Monday afternoon, followed by the complete exhibition of their show on Tuesday night.


LAVANDERÍA: A Mixed Load of Women, Wash, & Words 

TUESDAY, APRIL 26, 12:30 p.m., Griffin Gate; and APRIL 27, 7:00 p.m., Griffin Gate performing with Afro-Cuban drummers and dancers 

Week Two of the Literary Arts Festival will begin with the East County debut of Itchy, Brown Girl Seeks Employment  by Fillipina American born Ella deCastro Baron. 

Baron holds a BA in English Literature from UC Berkeley and an MFA in Creative Writing from San Diego State University. Itchy Brown Girl Seeks Employment is an ironic Curriculum Vitae in which life and work experiences one wouldn’t want a potential employer to know are highlighted using vulnerability, wit, observation, and candor. In this creative nonfiction collective text of prose, poetry, recipes, memoir, letters, and other forms, Ella deCastro Baron—a first generation Asian American woman challenged by her Filipino culture, parents’ faith, inherited sickness, and questionable life choices—shares of beginning and ending relationships, restlessness, miracles, prejudice, entitlement, and community. Itchy, Brown Girl Seeks Employment, published by San Diego City Works Press, is her first book.

Acoustic guitarist Graham Hadidian and Phillipina American vocalist Malia Martinez will accompany Baron, underscoring the themes and motifs of her book.  Jenny Redbug describes Martinez's voice and lyrics as "a soundtrack to Baron's moving text, making it a feast for the sensory imagination."



TUESDAY, APRIL 27, 2:00 p.m., Griffin Gate

Grossmont College proudly welcomes Brandon Cesmat to the Literary Arts Festival.  Cesmat, the author of Driven into the Shade (Poetic Matrix Press 2003), began his writing career as a journalist and won several San Diego Press Club awards. After earning his MFA from San Diego State University, he switched to creative writing and received a Pushcart Prize nomination as well as San Diego Book Awards in both poetry and fiction while also working as an educator for California Poets in the Schools (CPITS) and Cal State University San Marcos. The poet-vocalist and guitarist in the performance ensemble Drought Buoy, Cesmat is known for his rousing and soulful delivery, what he calls the transmogrification of poem into song.               

As a member of CPITS, Cesmat edited Classrooms of Poets, an anthology on the efficacy of bringing living writers into K-12 classrooms. He also designed CPITS state-wide program Laureates in Training (CPITS-LIT), which recognizes student-poets who have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to the poetry-writing process and poetry in the community. In November of 2003, he was elected president of CPITS, the largest artist residency program in the United States. He currently teaches at CSU San Marcos, Palomar College, and the Family Writing Workshop for EvenStart at the San Pasqual Indian Reservation. 


MATT DE LA PEÑA [2010 Festival Keynote Author]

THURSDAY, APRIL 29, 7:00 p.m., Student Center

Matt de la Peña, headlining the 14th Annual Literary Art Festival as its keynote author, received his MFA in Creative Writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific, where he attended school on a full athletic scholarship for basketball.  Ball Don't Lie, his debut novel (Delacorte 2005), is an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adults (Top  10 of the Year), a 2008 Center for Blue Ribbon List entry, a 2009 Notable Book for a Global Society, and a Texas TAYSHS reading list selection. Ball Don’t Lie is scheduled for release on April 5, 2010, and stars Ludacris, Nick Cannon, Emelie de Ravin, Grayson Boucher, and Rosanna Arquette.  In 2008, Mexican WhiteBoy, de la Peña's second novel, was an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adults (Top  10 of the Year), a 2008 Center for Blue Ribbon List entry, a 2009 Notable Book for a Global Society, and a Texas TAYSHS reading list selection.  We Were Here (Delacorte 2009), de la Peña's third novel,  is the story of three boys who find they can be friends despite their own varied pasts and personal tragedies. The Bulletin writes that the characters in We Were Here “live and  breathe…This is a must-read book, ” and VOYA adds to the praise:  “A stunningly realistic work of fiction.” described as a “breakout urban masterpiece where the street and the court meet and where a boy can be anything if he puts his mind to it” (Random House). His short story “Last Red Light Before We’re There” was included in the recent anthology Does This Book Make Me Look Fat: Stories About Loving--and Loathing--Your Body.  His short fiction has also appeared in a variety of literary journals, including Pacific Review, Two Girl’s Review, The Vincent Brothers Review, Chiricú, George Mason Review, and Allegheny Literary Review. De la Peña has twice been an AWP award winner in short fiction, as well as a 2008 winner of the Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book prize and the 2009 winner of Top Ten New Latino Authors to Watch.  In December, 2009, Mexican WhiteBoy received one of seven nominations for the Arizona Grand Canyon Reader Award. 

Festival headliner Matt de la Peña, received his MFA in Creative Writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific.  Ball Don't Lie, his debut novel, is an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adults and a forthcoming film. In 2008, Mexican WhiteBoy, de la Peña's second novel, was an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adults and a 2008 Center for Blue Ribbon List entry. We Were Here is de la Peña's must-read third novel.   De la Peña is twice an AWP winner in short fiction, 2008's winner of the Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book prize, and the 2009 winner of Top Ten New Latino Authors to Watch. In December, 2009, Mexican WhiteBoy received one of seven nominations for the Arizona Grand Canyon Reader Award.

Last Updated: 04/21/2019
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