Artifacts: The Macondo Writers Workshop

Begun in poet and writer Sandra Cisneros’ kitchen in 1998, The Macondo Writers Workshop began with a modest group of 15. Later growing to more than 150 participants, the workshop, run by the nonprofit Macondo Foundation since 2006, emphasizes compassion, non-violence, and community building, and enjoys the support of internationally renowned authors such as John Phillip Santos, Luis Rodriguez, Dorothy Allison, Joy Harjo, and Carmen Tafolla.

This year’s workshop runs from July 23-30, with two days of events open to the public. At 7 p.m. Wednesday, LA LUZ en los Tiempos de la Oscuridad (Light in the Times of Darkness) will feature readings by Julia Alvarez, Helena María Viramontes, and Manuel Muñoz, along with music and dance performances by David Garza and S.T. Shimi. Held at the Jump-Start performance space at the Blue Star Arts Complex, the tickets are $25 general admission or $50 for table seating. The following night a free reading by Macondo Writers with music by Conjunto El Trio will be held at Thiry Auditorium at Our Lady of the Lake University from 7 to 9 p.m.

Julia Alvarez’ first novel, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, written in 1991, won the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award. It was followed by four more novels, five children’s books, and many essays and poetry compilations. Born in NYC, Alvarez was raised in the Dominican Republic until her family fled from violence during the time of the dictator Trujillo.

Helena María Viramontes’ most recent novel, Their Dogs Came with Them, was published by Washington Square Press. It relates stories of the homeless, the working poor, and the undocumented in Viramontes’ childhood home, East Los Angeles.

Manuel Muñoz is the author of the novel What You See in the Dark. His short stories have appeared in The New York Times, Rush Hour, Swink, Epoch, Glimmer Train, Edinburgh Review, and Boston Review, and have aired on National Public Radio’s Selected Shorts. Born in Dinuba, Calif., he is assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Arizona at Tucson.

The founder of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop, Sandra Cisneros, is a MacArthur Foundation Fellow and has published poetry and short stories for over 30 years. This year marks her last hands-on involvement with The Macondo Foundation, as she steps down to assume an advisory role and concentrate more on her own writing.

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