CALENDAR OF EVENTS Click any event titles below for additional info, or browse this page for event info, author bios, book descriptions, links to reviews, and more.
Register here: tinyurl.com/whylitmatters
This year's WLM hosts are Professors Julie Cardenas and Ingrid Jayne. Featured presenters to be announced soon.
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.
Register here: tinyurl.com/maggiedowns
photo © Maggie Downs; photo credit: Lance Gerber
The 26th annual Literary Arts Festival welcomes journalist and creative nonfiction author Maggie Downs, reading from her award-winning grief memoir, Braver Than You Think: Around the World on the Trip of My (Mother’s) Lifetime (Counterpoint 2020). In it, the just-married and career-ensconced 34-year-old Downs quits rids herself of her belongings and her job in order to embark on a solo backpacking trip around the world to honor her ailing mother's bucket list of adventures. As a child, Maggie doubted she would ever be courageous enough to go to the destinations her mother dreamed of visiting, but her mother's mantra, “You are braver than you think,” guides her over the course of a year to backpack across seventeen countries to honor the wanderlust of her mother, now suffering early-onset Alzheimer’s. Down's memoir weaves travelogue with personal anecdotes about family, while hiking far-flung locations such as the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu, white-water rafting down the Nile River, and even volunteering at a Bolivian monkey sanctuary (where she was attacked and injured by one of the animals). Braver Than You Think is Maggie Down's first published book.
A Midwest native transplanted to Palm Springs, California, Maggie Downs is a as an award-winning newspaper journalist. Maggie Down's writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Palm Springs Life, Smithsonian Magazine, Today, McSweeney’s, Eating Well magazine, the BBC, and others. She has also been anthologized in The Lonely Planet Travel Anthology: True Stories from the World’s Best Writers and Best Women’s Travel Writing.
Her essay, "So Sad Today: Conversations With a 5-Year-Old During a Pandemic" won a $500 grant from the nonprofit California Desert Art Council (CDAC) and La Quinta Arts Foundation, which established a $50,000 Keep Art Alive fund to award grants to Coachella Valley artists creating relevant works in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Downs explains, “As a writer, I believe in dissolving the border between memoir and journalism, weaving together personal history with location-based reporting to excavate some deeper truths about the human condition.... Most of my work focuses on the themes of family, memory, and finding a sense of home in the world.” Downs is currently developing a collection of themed travel essays and aspires to write a book about her experiences driving all over Africa with her son, Everest.
author website: maggieink.com
Counterpoint Press: counterpointpress.com
Interview, 2020 Debuts: 2020debuts.com
"So Sad Today," in California Desert Art Council: cadesertarts.org
|Braver Than You Think: Around the World on the Trip of My (Mother’s) Lifetime. Counterpoint, 2020.
|"At Home in Giza." in The Lonely Planet Travel Anthology: True Stories from the World’s Best Writers. Ed., Don George. Lonely Planet, 2016.
|"The Bad Place." in Best Women’s Travel Writing, Volume 11. Ed., Lavinia Spalding. Traveler's Tales, 2017.
Register here: tinyurl.com/chrisbaronreading
photo © Chris Baron
Local poet and YA author Chris Baron returns to the Literary Arts Festival to read new and recent work. Baron is the award winning author of two Middle Grade novels-in-verse. In the critically acclaimed All of Me (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan 2019), an overweight 7th-grader who loves cryptozoology and role-playing games struggles with body-image issues in his day-to-day life. All of Me is a Southern California Independent Booksellers Association bestseller, a BookRiot Best Children’s Book About Kindness, an NCTE Notable Book, and 2019 nominee for the Association of Library Service to Children. Set against the backdrop of the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, Baron's recently released The Magical Imperfect (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan 2021) features a selectively mute boy and a girl who won't leave her house because of a skin condition, who, together, find a way to help a town of refugees. Baron's two forthcoming novels from Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan include The Gray World (2023) and Forest Heart (2024).
A native New Yorker who moved to San Francisco as a child, Chris Baron completed his MFA in Poetry in 1998 at San Diego State University then took permanent residence in San Diego. His poetry collection, Under the Broom Tree, is included in Lantern Tree: Four Books of Poems (City Works Press 2012), winner of a San Diego Book Award for best poetry anthology. Baron has published numerous poems and articles in magazines and journals around the country, performed on radio programs, and participated in many readings, lectures, and panels. He has worked with Border Voices, San Diego Writers, Ink, and other community writing groups, and is also a contributor to the Bloomsbury YA anthology, Every Body Shines (2021). He is now on staff as an English professor at San Diego City College and directs its Writing Center.
author website: chris-baron.com
The Deborah Harris Agency: thedeborahharrisagency.com
Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group: macmillan.com/author/chrisbaron
|"Under the Broom Tree." in Lantern Tree: Four Books of Poems. San Diego City Works Press, 2012.
|All of Me.
Feiwel & Friends/MacmillanBooks, 2019.
|"Food Is Love." in Every Body Shines: Sixteen Stories About Living Fabulously Fat. Ed., Cassandra Newbould. Bloomsbury YA, 2021.
|The Magical Imperfect.
Feiwel & Friends/MacmillanBooks, 2021.
Register here: tinyurl.com/new-voices
Exceptional writers from this semester's creative writing classes and workshops come together to perform some of their best new and original works of fiction, literary nonfiction, poetry, drama, spoken word, mixed media word art, and other hybrid and innovative forms.
This semesterly event is a crowd favorite for Grossmont faculty and students, alike, and is a tradition dating back almost all the way to the beginnings of Grossmont College, itself. Each semester, our Creative Writing Program faculty select students from their courses who have composed stand-out original works, and invite them to participate in an evening of readings. The event features a New Voices booklet containing the printed versions of their works that allows audiences to read along if they like, and gives participating students a keepsake of the evening.
Students selected for inclusion in the New Voices program are also given priority consideration for the campus literary journal, Acorn Review, which is edited and produced by students under the advisorship of Creative Writing Program faculty member, Julie Cardenas. The 2020-2021 issue of Acorn Review is currently available. Send inquiries to Acorn Review faculty advisor Julie Cardenas: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Acorn Review submission guidelines: grossmont.edu/acorn
Grossmont College Creative Writing Program: grossmont.edu/english/cwp
Register here: tinyurl.com/paul-lópez
photo © Manuel Paul López
Chicano border poet, Imperial Valley native, and CantoMundo fellow, Manuel Paul López reads new works from his forthcoming collection, Nerve Curriculum (Futurepoem 2022). López's three previously published collections include These Days of Candy (Noemi Press, Akrilica Series 2017); Death of a Mexican and Other Poems (Bear Star Press, 2006), winner of the 2006 Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize; and the critically acclaimed The Yearning Feed, awarded the 2013 Ernest Sandeen Prize in Poetry. His work is widely published in such journals as Bilingual Review, Denver Quarterly, Fairy Tale Review, Hanging Loose, Huizache, New American Writing, Puerto del Sol, The Rumpus, ZYZZYVA, and others.
López's poems are embedded in the San Diego/Imperial Valley regions, communities located along La Frontera (the U.S.-Mexico border) that are treated in his writing as a place of magic, contradiction, and irony. Merging his acumen of modern and contemporary literature with his experience and vernacular as a border-child, and infusing humor and lyrical intensity, Manuel Paul López produces work that illustrates the ongoing geographical and literary historical clash of cultures on such themes as familial relationships, immigration, substance abuse, violence, and the affirmation of life.
Manuel Paul López has co-edited three anthologies for San Diego's City Works Press/Sunbelt Publications: Reclaiming Our Stories: Narratives of Identity, Resilience and Empowerment (2017), Reclaiming Our Stories 2 (2020); and Reclaiming Our Stories: In the Time of Covid and Uprising (2021). All three are produced from a "Reclaiming Our Stories" community-based writers’ workshop that López has co-facilitated since 2016.
López lives in San Diego and teaches in the English Department at San Diego City College.
Futurepoem press: futurepoem.com
Library of Congress Interview/Reading: loc.gov/item/2019408293
Notre Dame Press: undpress.nd.edu/9780268033897/yearning-feed-the
|Death of a Mexican. Bear Star Press, 2006.
|The Yearning Feed. University of Notre Dame Press, 2013.
|These Days of Candy. Noemi Press, 2017.
|López, Manuel Paul, and Patrick Michael Holder. Documenting Change. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014.
|Reclaiming Our Stories: Narratives of Identity, Resilience and Empowerment. Editor. San Diego City Works Press/Sunbelt Publications, 2016.
|Reclaiming Our Stories 2. Editor. San Diego City Works Press/Sunbelt Publications, 2020.
|Reclaiming Our Stories in the Time of COVID and Uprising. Editor. San Diego City Works Press/Sunbelt Publications, 2021
Register here: tinyurl.com/erin-rodoni-reading
photo © Erin Rodoni; photo credit: Suz Lipman
Poet Erin Rodoni presents a reading from her newest collection, And If the Woods Carry You (Southern Indiana Press 2021), winner of the 2020 Michael Waters Poetry Prize. Using motifs of fairy tale and myth, And If the Woods Carry You explores motherhood and childhood in a world on the verge of climate catastrophe: a mother grappling with her choice to bring children into an apocalyptic world sends her daughters into the woods of fairy tale as a rite of initiation. The woods carry her fears of extinction, but also contain the transformative magic of love, interdependence, and renewal. Poet Dean Rader (Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry) praises Rodoni’s poems as "a glorious marriage of the domestic and the dangerous. There are tests and transformations, solitudes and sacrifices, births and burials. Everything is changing into something else, something energized, erotic, and enchanted. But it is the poet’s attention to craft that lifts these poems from the beguiling world of mere narrative into the more magical realm of art. In language that feels both ancient and current, Rodoni manages to craft lyrics that seem to come from some other world while speaking truths to this one.”
Rodoni's previous collections include Body, in Good Light, and A Landscape for Loss, winner of the Stevens Award sponsored by the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. Her poems have been widely published in The Adroit Journal, Best New Poets 2014, Blackbird, Cider Press Review, Cimarron Review, Colorado Review, Drunken Boat, EcoTheo Review, Ninth Letter, Pinwheel, Poetry Northwest, Rise Up Review, Spoon River Poetry Review,Tupelo Quarterly, Verse Daily, World Literature Today, and others.
Erin Rodoni received her MFA in poetry writing from San Diego State University. Her honors include AWP Intro Journals Award, a Ninth Letter Literary Award, and the 2017 Montreal International Poetry Prize. She is also a Pushcart nominee. Rodoni currently lives in San Rafael, California, with her husband and two daughters, teaches at the Writing Salon in San Francisco and serves on the board of the Marin Poetry Center.
author website: erinrodonipoet.com
Facebook author page: facebook.com/erin.rodoni
University of Southern Indiana Press: usi.edu/sir/sir-press-authors/erin-rodoni/
|Body in a Good Light. Sixteen Rivers Press, 2017.
|A Landscape for Loss. NFSPS Press, 2017.
|And If the Woods Carry You. Southern Indiana Review Press, 2021
Register here: tinyurl.com/cherie-dimaline
photo © Cherie Dimaline
The 2022 Literary Arts Festival is proud to present award-winning Métis writer, Cherie Dimaline, the highly acclaimed author of the YA novel, The Marrow Thieves (DCB 2017), winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for Young People's Literature, and the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers' Literature. Dimaline’s other books include The Girl Who Drew a Galaxy (Theytus Books 2013), Red Rooms (Dancing Cat Books 2017), and Empire of Wild (William Morrow 2019). Her recent release, Hunting by Stars (Amulet Book 2021), is the highly anticipated follow-up to The Marrow Thieves, a dystopian Young Adult novel in which First Nations people are hunted for the dreams stored inside their bone marrow. The Marrow Thieves was selected as "Book of Year" by National Public Radio, the School Library Journal, the New York Public Library, and others.
From from Georgian Bay, Ontario, Cherie Dimaline is a registered and claimed member of the Metis Nation of Ontario, and is considered one of the leading representatives of Indigenous voices in Canada’s book industry. In 2014, she was awarded Emerging Artist of the Year at the Ontario Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and she is first writer in residence for Aboriginal literature at the Toronto Public Library. In addition to being founding editor of the Indigenous-focused publications, FNV Magazine and Muskrat Magazine, Dimaline was curator for Little Bird Stories, Volume 9 (Invisible Publishing 2019), a collection of stories from the annual Little Bird Writing Contest for emerging short fiction writers. She has served as executive director of The RIEL, contributed to the anthology Mitêwâcimowina: Indigenous Science Fiction and Speculative Storytelling (Theytus Books 2016), and now coordinates the annual Indigenous Writers’ Gathering in Toronto, Ontario, where she currently resides.
author website: cheriedimaline.com
Métis Nation of Ontario website: metisnation.org
Theytus Books: theytus.com/Contributors/D/Dimaline-Cherie
|The Girl Who Drew a Galaxy. Theytus Books, 2013.
|Red Rooms. Dancing Cat Books, 2017.
|The Marrow Thieves. DCB, 2017.
|Empire of Wild. William Morrow, 2019.
|Hunting by Stars. Amulet Book, 2021.
Register here: tinyurl.com/kosoko-jackson
photo © Kosoko Jackson; photo credit: Sara Nicole Lemon
Maryland native, Kosoko Jackson, is the author of the newly released, I’m So (Not) Over You (Berkeley Romance 2022), an adult #OwnVoices queer Romcom novel. His YA releases from Sourcebooks Fire also feature African American queer protagonists; they include A Place for Wolves (2019), the time-travel adventure Yesterday Is History (2021), and his latest, Survive the Dome (March 2022): during a city-wide protest over the police killing of a Black man, an impenetrable dome encloses the citizens of Baltimore, under which they must endure a militarized shutdown of the city. Jackson’s personal essays and short stories have been appeared in Medium, Thought Catalog, The Advocate, and elsewhere.
Born and raised in the DC Metro Area, Kosoko Jackson is a digital media specialist, a sensitivity reader for Big Five Publishers, a freelance political journalist, and a tirelessly outspoken advocate for diversity in Young Adult literature and, for which he received the 2018 GLAAD Rising Star Award; Jackson used the profits of his aware to create a mentorship program for queer authors.
Currently, Kosoko Jackson is completely his MFA candidacy at SNHU’s Mountainview MFA program.
author website: kosokojackson.com
Twitter and Instagram: @kosokojackson
Sourcebooks Fire Publishing: sourcebooks.com
|A Place for Wolves. Sourcebooks Fire, 2019.
|Yesterday Is History. Sourcebooks Fire, 2021.
|I'm So (Not) Over You. Berkley Romance, 2022.
|Survive the Dome. Sourcebooks Fire, 2022.
Register here: tinyurl.com/marcowilkinson
photo © Southern Indiana Review Press
The 26th annual Literary Arts Festival closes with essayist, creative nonfiction writer, and ecopoet, Marco Wilkinson, reading from his acclaimed first book, Madder: A Memoir in Weeds (Coffee House Press 2021). In Madder, Wilkinson searches for the roots of his own selfhood among family myths and memories.
Author Meredith Boe writing for Another Chicago Magazine describes Madder as "a stunning ode to the many things weeds can be.... His poetic, disjointed essays speak to the difficulty in reevaluating history, in trying to extract the mind’s wildflowers. It’s a delight to learn from his sprawling knowledge about plants as he sifts through memories and reveals that all kinds of weeds have process and purpose." Poets and essayist Marcelo Hernandez Castillo (a featured author in our 2021 Literary Arts Fest) praises Madder as "a memoir unlike any I’ve encountered, with its unique lyricism, innovation of form, and virtuosic experimentation with memory. It’s part meditation on the nature of weeds and fungi; part critique of colonial narratives of invasive species; and part story of a life lived across borders, in the wreckage of familial absences and ‘un-memories, things not unknown.’ I am in awe of this book’s fortitude to imagine a pilgrimage out of a past that haunts because it does not change.... I marvel at what Wilkinson has accomplished in exploring the resilience of plants we have deemed unwanted; their memory, like ours, buried in the dirt.”
Wilkinson's lyric writings on ecological and agricultural/food themes have also appeared in Bennington Review, DIAGRAM, Seneca Review, Kenyon Review Online, Terrain, Taproot, and many other journals and anthologies.He is also the managing editor Field Magazine at Oberlin College Press.
Marco Wilkinson was born in Rhode Island to Uruguayan parents. Specializing in ecopoetics, environmental literature with a focus on sustainable agriculture/food, lyric essay, lyric memoir, hybrid/transgenre/nongenre writing, and queer theory and LGBTQ+ literature, he graduated from the Stonecoast MFA low-residency program at the University of Southern Maine in Portland in 2018. In addition to being a professor of creative writing and sustainable agriculture, Wilkinson has been a horticulturist, farmer, and editor. A recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Award for Individual Excellence and fellowships from the Hemera Foundation, Craigardan, and the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference, he has taught courses on creative writing and on horticulture and sustainable agriculture Oberlin College, and MiraCosta College, and is currently a visiting professor at UCSD.
Coffee House Press: coffeehousepress.org/products/madder
Facebook author page: facebook.com/marco.s.wilkinson
Rappahannock Review interview with Marco Wilkinson: rappahannockreview.com
|Madder: A Memoir in Weeds. Coffee House Press, 2021.