Aracelis + Curbstone + Bilingual/Bilngue

Writers Venita Blackburn and Aracelis Girmay

Aracelis Girmay's reading on Wednesday night at Tempe Center for the Arts was a joyous event. Girmay fully engaged the audience with her reading of political and personal poems and then she sat down for a conversation with Catherine Hammond, the moderator of Tempe's Poetry in April series. If you haven't read Teeth yet, you have no idea what you're missing.

I left the reading thinking, too, about the importance of small publishers especially in today's economic climate.

Girmay's collection is published by Curbstone Press which states its mission as follows on its website:

"1) publishing creative literature that promotes human rights and inter-cultural understanding and 2) bringing writers and programs deep into the community to promote literacy, knowledge about many cultures, and an appreciation of literature. Curbstone publishes 8 to 10 books a year, brings authors into Connecticut high schools in year-round programs, and has formed community partnerships to stimulate reading and creative writing with many community and service organizations in the Windham/Willimantic area. It is this dual focus on publishing and educational programming that makes Curbstone unique among nonprofit presses."

Authors published by Curbstone include Ana Castillo, Martha Collins, Martin Espada, Danielle Legros Georges, Ho Anh Thai, and many others.

In February I heard Martha Collins read from her latest poetry collection, Blue Front.The collection was inspired by a lynching that her father witnessed as a boy. It was refreshing to hear a poet who is white speak about the legacies of racism and lynching and I'm thankful that a nonprofit publisher like Curbstone decided that this subject matter is not passe, but is still relevant.

Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingue partners with Tempe's Poetry in April series and it had a table featuring several books at Wednesday's reading. I picked up The Date Fruit Elegies by John Olivares Espinoza. Bilingual/Bilingue is "committed to publishing quality writing by or about U.S. Hispanics" and it has been around since 1973.

Here's to Aracelis Girmay, Curbstone Press, and Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingue. May they be around for many years to come.

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