Monday, October 6, 2008

REFORMA 2008, Benjamin Alire Sáenz & El Paso

JUNTOS @ THE BORDER--the 3rd REFORMA Conference of Librarians--was in our hometown of El Paso, Texas in September. This was an important occasion for Cinco Puntos: REFORMA is the affiliate of the American Library Association that promotes Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking communities in the United States. We are a fronterizo press, specializing in the literatures of the border, Mexico and the American Southwest, with a particular emphasis on bilingual books for children. The librarians of REFORMA have long been supporters of Cinco Puntos. Indeed, we could not have achieved what we have without their support. We hoped to show our gratitude by sponsoring the Thursday night reception in the twin patios adjacent to and atop of the Plaza Theatre complex. It was a wonderful September night, full of mariachi music, good friends, loud laughter and happy chatter. El Paso was able to show off the on-going revival of our downtown. Cinco Puntos also helped to bring two of our important independent publishing colleagues to the exhibits, Groundwood Books and Curbstone Press.

One of our most significant writers Benjamin Alire Saenz gave the keynote at the Saturday luncheon. Ben believes in the importance of such opportunities, and for his talk he prepared a speech entitled "The Writer's Life, A Novena." Below is a youtube clip of the last two parts of that speech. He talks about teaching the art of writing and he talks about living the art of writing.

Cinco Puntos has just published Ben's most recent bilingual children's book--A Perfect Season for Dreaming / Un tiempo perfector para sonar. The wonderful folk-like but surreal illustrations are done by Esau Andrade of Tijuana and San Diego. The book has already received two STARRED reviews, one from Publishers Weekly and the other from Kirkus Reviews. 2008 has been a good year for Ben. He's published two novels, Goodbye to All That, a YA novel from Simon Schuster; and Names on a Map from Rayo/Harper-Collins, both of which have likewise been wonderfully received by national media.

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