Eleventh Annual San Miguel Writers’ Conference
By Jade Arroyo
The eleventh Writers’ Conference and Literary Festival was held in San Miguel from February 10 to 14, with venues at the Hotel Real de Minas and the Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramirez “El Nigromante.” This festival is one of the most prestigious cultural festivals in our city, a bilingual readers’ and writers’ forum.
The 2016 conference was comprised of more than 70 workshops in English and Spanish, eight panels and round tables, services by publishing agents both American and Mexican, and keynote presentations by authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, Scott Simon, Gail Sheehy, Kirk Ellis, Elizabeth Hay, Luis Urrea, Lisa See, and Juan Villoro. In addition, there were reading areas, a book fair, and fun parties and social gatherings.
The Spanish part of the festival gives scholarships every year through the San Miguel Literary Sala A.C., from which emerging writers win grants for 100 percent for the academic events.
This year’s winners were Ali Rendon, in the genre of mini-fiction; Ana Clara Muro with the poem Mi lugar femenino (My Feminine Place); and Daniel Rodríguez Cano with the story Sofía y yo (Sofía and I.)
The conference is for writers who want to develop their skills and also for readers. There were specific workshops to enhance the appreciation of literature and deepen the practice of reading.
This year, the use of technology and social networking as a tool of expression of the written word was also introduced. Specific workshops enlightened writers who want to publish e-books, with instruction for following that process. Also, there was increased activity in social networks and people using hashtags for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram during the congress. Daily competitions were conducted for the best photo of the day, the best remark of an author, and the most interesting person met at the event. There were also prizes for those daily categories.
Two speakers returned to the conference by popular demand: Luis Urrea and Juan Villoro. Urrea is an award-winning author who wrote The Hummingbird’s Daughter and Into the Beautiful North. Juan Villoro is a great storyteller, owner of a very charismatic personality, and very much loved by his audiences. He talked about immigration stories related to the place where he grew up, the border between Tijuana and San Diego. Joyce Carol Oates was also highlighted as a legendary American writer. She has written over a hundred books, and a film based on her short story (“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”) was shown. Scott Simon is very popular in the United States and is the host of a radio show. He is a prolific writer.
On the Bicultural Panel (a favorite community event), the participants were Chicano author Luis Urrea, Mexican Juan Villoro, Chinese-American Lisa See, and Canadian Elizabeth Hay. The theme was Global Migration. The panel was moderated by the Mexican C. M Mayo, who has written prolifically about the history of Mexico.
For more information and follow-up with the next festival, visit www.sanmiguelwritersconference.org