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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

2:00 – 3:15PM




Why Literature MattersThis year's WLM featured presenters will be announced soon.


William Carlos Williams once wrote “It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.” In this annual, student-favorite event, a panel of Grossmont College students, faculty, and administrators share their moving and powerful personal accounts of the role literature has played in their journeys, advocating the relevance of literature and its potential to inspire change, cultivate humanity, and serve us in, both, personal and global ways.


Past WLM panelists have included PUENTE students, history professor Dr. Sue Gonda, author and Humanities professor Maria Rybakova, Dean of English/Social and Behavioral Sciences Agustin Albarran, English Department Chair Dr. Oralee Holder, Humanities professor Dr. Pete Schmidt, students Raphael Umphres-Piscitelli, Adilene Delgado, and Grossmont College Creative Writing Program alumnae Cassady Lynch and Felicia Williams.


Professor LISA LEDRI-AGUILAR teaches English composition and reading courses, as well as upper division literature courses such as Introduction to Literature, Women in Literature, British Literature, Bible as Literature, and American Literature II. She has served on the Academic Senate, and on committees such as Student Services Program Review, Project Success, and the Reading Committee. Professors Lisa Ledri and Sarah MartinLedri-Aguilar is also a C.S. Lewis scholar who has presented papers on Lewis at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Her scholarship appears in C.S. Lewis journals such as In Pursuit of Truth. In 2012, Ledri-Aguilar received the distinguished CATE Classroom Excellence Award in the College Division.


English Professor SARAH MARTIN helps coordinates Grossmont College's Literature Program and teaches the popular British Literature survey course as well as Shakespeare. She has interned in the Foundation for International Education's "Summer in London" program, teaches online and on-campus composition courses, and is one of Grossmont College's official Canvas teaching mentors. Besides her work in the Academic Senate, Sarah is the campus SDICCCA coordinator and is heavily involved off-campus with the San Diego Area Writing Project. For nearly a decade, Sarah has also helped facilitate the Comic-Con Independent Film Festival.



Wednesday, April 28, 2021


7:00 – 8:15 PM



poet, memoirist, immigration activist, Undocupoets founder

WACC logoThis event is supported in part by a grant it has received from WACC, the World Arts and Cultures Committee of Grossmont College.

 photo image ©  Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

photo image © Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

Marcelo Hernández Castillo is the author of the chapbook Dulce  (BOA editions 2018), and the collection Cenzontle (BOA 2018), chosen by Brenda Shaughnessy as winner of the 2017 A. Poulin Jr. prize, and recipient of the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writer Award for poetry, the 2019 Golden Poppy Award from the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, and the Bronze in the FOREWORD INDIE best book of the year. Listed among one of NPR's and the New York Public Library top picks of 2018, Cenzontle is also a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, the California Book Award, the Publishing Triangle's Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry, and the Northern California Book Award. His first chapbook, DULCE, won the Drinking Gourd Poetry Prize published by Northwestern University press.


His latest memoir, Children of the Land (Harper Collins 2020), was launched to widespread acclaim. Chronicling his years growing up undocumented in the United States, Castillo recounts his experiences of a family torn asunder by American immigration policies and his efforts to make a life for himself in a culture actively conspiring to erase his existence. Children of the Land was an NPR Best Book of the Year, a 2020 International Latino Book Award Finalist, and Lit Hub’s Most Anticipated Book of the Year. Latinx author Sandra Cisneros praises Castillo’s gripping memoir as "the document of a life without documents, of belonging to two countries yet belonging to neither. Hernández Castillo has created his own papers fashioned from memory and poetry. His motherland is la madre tierra, his life a history lesson for our times.”



Marcelo Hernández Castillo was born in Zacatecas, Mexico and immigrated to the California central valley. As an AB540 student, Castillo holds a B.A. from Sacramento State University and was the first undocumented student to graduate from the Helen Zell Writers Program at the University of Michigan. His work has appeared or been featured in The New York Times, The Academy of American Poets, PBS Newshour, People Magazine en Español, The Paris Review, Fusion TV, Buzzfeed, Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts, New England Review, Jubilat, Drunken Boat, Indiana Review, and others. His writing has been adopted to opera through collaboration with composer Reinaldo Moya.


As a translator, Castillo’s work has resulted in English language translations of Argentinian modernist poet Jacobo Fijman, and contemporary Mexican Peruvian poet Yaxkin Melchy. Collaborating with American poet C.D. Wright (prior to her death in 2016), Castillo has also co-translated the writings of Mexican poet Marcelo Uribe.


Notably, Castillo is an honored recipient of the Barnes and Nobel Writers for Writers award for his efforts as a founding member of the groundbreaking Undocupoets campaign, which successfully eliminated citizenship requirements from all major first poetry book prizes in the country. He has also helped to establish The Undocupoet Fellowship which provides funding to help curb the cost of submissions to journals and contests for undocumented writers.

Marcelo Hernández Castillo earned his B.A. from Sacramento State University and was the first undocumented student to graduate from the Helen Zell Writers Program at the University of Michigan. A graduate of the Canto Mundo Latinx Poetry fellowship, he is a Pushcart nominee and has also received fellowships to attend the Vermont Studio Center and the Squaw Valley Writers Workshop. Currently, he teaches at the Ashland Low-Res MFA Program and teaches poetry workshops for incarcerated youth in Northern California.



Children of the Land






Children of the Land


Children of the Land: A Hybrid Memoir. Harper Perennial, 2020. ISBN: 978-0062825636 Dulce: Poems. Northwestern University Press, 2020. ISBN: 978-0810136960 Cenzontle: Poems. BOA Editions, 2018.


  • Espada, Martín, editor. What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump. Curbstone Books 2, 2019. ISBN: 978-0810140776
  • Vecchione, Patrice and Alyssa Raymond, eds. Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience. Triangle Square, 2019. ISBN: 978-1609809072






  • Dixon, Arthur. "A Conversation with Marcelo Hernandez Castillo." Latin American Literature Today 18 September 2019. YouTube. Posted 14 August 2020. Runtime: 00:24:45. https://youtu.be/CyMm8_FRQPg 
  • Kenyon Review. "Marcelo Hernández Castillo (Kenyon Review Reading Series)." Virtual reading recording. YouTube. Posted 11 April 2020. Runtime: 00:56:38. https://youtu.be/vx7MmSPktXM 
  • "Marcelo Hernández Castillo with SoFloPoJo @ Miami Book Fair 2018" SoFloPoJo South Florida Poetry Journal. YouTube. Posted 26 January 2019. Runtime: 00:22:25. 
  • "Marcello Hernandez Castillo (2020 San Antonio Book Festival)." TPR Literary Moments. YouTube. Posted 26 May 2020. Audio only. Runtime: 00:01:42. https://youtu.be/ESQK9xot69o



Wednesday, April 28, 2021