117 North Sycamore, Santa Ana, CA. 92701

12:00PM - 1:00PM

Theme: Maria Maria & Other Stories

Marytza Rubio

Marytza K. Rubio is a writer born & raised in Santa Ana. Her fiction and essays have been published in the Los Angeles Times, Slice Magazine,  The Normal School, and the anthologies Choose Wisely and Exigencies.  As a 2008 PEN America Emerging  Voices Fellow, Marytza focused on improving her fiction while gaining experience and knowledge managing a specialized fashion library for the OTIS College of Art & Design in Los Angeles. Scholarships to attend the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and VONA soon followed, giving Marytza the support to fine-tune her stories and explore a wide variety of literary interests and influences. Marytza earned her MFA in Creative Writing: Latin America in 2016. Attending residencies in Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, and Santiago provided opportunities to read unique and unconventional books in Spanish and Portuguese, and engage with innovative styles of music and art, reigniting her vision for a specialized library & art center in her hometown.

For fans of Kali Fajardo-Anstine and Lesley Nneka Arimah, a darkly funny and imaginative debut conjuring tales of Mexican American mystics and misfits.

“The first witch of the waters was born in Destruction. The moon named her Maria.” From former PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow Marytza K. Rubio comes Maria, Maria, an inimitable collection set across the tropics and megacities of the Americas.

Readers will be enticed and infuriated as characters negotiate with nature to cast their desired ends—such as the enigmatic community college professor in “Brujeria for Beginners’; the disturbingly faithful widow in “Tijuca”; and the lonely little girl in “Burial,” who awakens a saber tooth tiger. Brimming with sharp wit and ferocious female intuition, the book bubbles over into a novella of fantastical proportions—a “tropigoth” family drama set in a reimagined California micro-rainforest about the legacies of three Marias, possibly all Marias. Writing in prose so lush it threatens to creep off the page, Rubio emerges as a bold new voice in contemporary short fiction.

1:00PM - 2:00PM

Theme: Race, gender, identity, ancestry
Special Guest Artist: Lezley Saar Interviewed by Jasmine McNeal 

Lezley Saar

Lezley Saar is a mixed media artist currently living in Los Angeles. While majoring in communications at San Francisco State University, she worked at KPFA radio in Berkeley as part of a collective; The Souls of Black Folk. There she started illustrating for her writer friends. In the 80s, she began making altered books. Her works now include paintings, drawings, altered books, banners, collages, dioramas, and installations. Saar’s various recent series; Anomalies, Mulatto Nation, Tooth Hut, Autist’s Fables, Madwoman in the Attic, Monad, Gender Renaissance, A Conjuring of Conjurors, and Black Garden deal with notions of race, gender, beauty, normalcy, escapism and sanity. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, and is in museum collections such as: LACMA – Los Angeles, MOCA – Los Angeles, Studio Museum in Harlem New York, CAAM – Los Angeles, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art – Kansas City Missouri, Ackland Art Museum – Chapel Hill North Carolina, Crocker Art Museum – Sacramento, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Schnitzer Museum, Oregon, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and The Hood Museum of Art, New Hampshire.

Jasmine McNeal

Jasmine McNeal is an independent curator and art advisor who has been based in Los Angeles since 2016. Her curatorial practice focuses on the many aspects of Black identity and Black spirituality. She earned her BA in World Arts and Cultures from UCLA and her MA in Cultural Studies from KU Leuven in Belgium. She has curated exhibitions locally and abroad, including Ghana and Belgium. She is also the founder of Other Faith Art Consulting. Other Faith is an art consulting business and gallery which focuses on representation of Black and Indigenous peoples in contemporary art. Her exhibition Otherwise/Revival, recently co-curated for Bridge projects along with director Cara Lewis, focused on spiritual experience within the Black Church in America. Her work has been featured in articles such as Hyperallergic, as well as other platforms, including Artsy. In addition to curating, she has been involved in public speaking regarding the importance of representation of Black curators and artists in the art world at Biola University and LMU.

2:00PM - 3:00PM

Theme: Rain of Gold, Burro Genius, Thirteen Senses

Víctor Villaseñor

After producing 9 novels, 65 short stories, and receiving 265 rejections, Victor Villaseñor sold his first novel, Macho!, which the Los Angeles Times compared to the best of John Steinbeck. This began a journey that led to the publication of the national bestseller Rain of Gold. Used by school systems throughout the country, the Rain of Gold trilogy tells the story of Villaseñor’s family, taking the reader from war-torn Mexico during the Revolution of 1910 to our present century.


Villaseñor’s body of works include a number of nonfiction books; several national bestsellers and Pulitzer Prize nominations. The trilogy Wild Steps of Heaven, Rain of Gold, and Thirteen Senses; the second family trilogy Burro Genius, Crazy Loco Love, and Beyond Rain of Gold. Others: Jury: The People vs Juan Corona; Macho!; Lion Eyes; Our First Lady Pope. Walking Stars a book of short stories, and a collection of award winning bilingual illustrated children’s books.  As a screen writer, he is best known for the popular corrida about the longest manhunt in Texas Ranger history:  The Ballad Of Gregorio Cortez.  Villaseñor’s acclaimed written works, and his inspiring presentations, have earned numerous awards and endorsements, including the Founding John Steinbeck Chair appointment.

3:00PM - 4:00PM

Special Guest: Namrata Poddar & Madhushree Gosh In Conversation
Theme: South Asians in Southern California and New Immigrant Writing

Session Description: Namrata Poddar (from Orange County) and Madhushree Ghosh (from San Diego) discuss immigrant writing and South Asian diaspora in Southern California through their debut books, “Border Less” and “Khabaar”

Namrata Poddar

Namrata Poddar writes fiction and nonfiction, serves as Interviews Editor for Kweli, and teaches literature as well as creative writing at UCLA. Her work has appeared in several publications including Poets & Writers, Literary Hub, Longreads, The Kenyon Review, Electric Literature, Catapult, and The Best Asian Short Stories. She was a recent contributor to The Los Angeles Times where she focused on the sociocultural diversity of Orange County. She holds a PhD in French literature from the University of Pennsylvania, an MFA in Fiction from Bennington College, and a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Transnational Cultures from UCLA. She lives in Huntington Beach. Find her on Twitter,  @poddar_namrata, and on Instagram, @writerpoddar.


Set in Mumbai and Greater Los Angeles, Border Less follows Dia Mittal as she leaves her job at a call center and embarks on a spiraling immigrant trajectory of departure and return. Border Less was a finalist for Feminist Press’s Louise Meriwether Prize, and featured recently in The Millions’s most anticipated books for 2022; Brown Girl Bookshelf’s “2022 Books to Read in 2022” and BuzzFeed News’s “16 Upcoming Books from Indie Presses You’ll Love”

Madhushree Ghosh

Based in San Diego, Madhushree Ghosh works in oncology diagnostics and is the author of Khabaar: An Immigrant Journey of Food, Memory and Family (April 2022, University of Iowa Press). As a woman in science, an immigrant and a daughter of refugees, Madhushree’s work reflects her roots and activism especially in diversity, equity and inclusion within the food, healthcare and biotech worlds. Her work has been awarded a Notable Mention in Best American Essays in Food Writing and a Pushcart Prize nomination. She has been published in The New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post, Longreads, Guernica, Catapult, DAME and others. She can be reached on social media @writemadhushree

4:00PM - 5:00PM

Curator: Darlene Kriesel
Theme: Breath

Session Description: We know breaths. We know the short, desperate gasps, the ones taken before death. We know long, meditative breaths, ones that usher in life and renewal.

“Breathe” represents how we navigate this new existence during and after a 100 year pandemic, where over 900,000 Americans have perished, and where an attempted coup de tat threatened our democracy. How do we navigate this world rife with divisive politics and racial tension, and undergirded with an internet determined to widen every divide.

This year, our space will honor breaths stolen and breaths we take. Our MC, performers, writers and musicians will provoke us to deal with the uncertain – and at times crushing – present. They will provoke us to imagine new breaths for a changed reality.

Darlene Kriesel

Darlene Kriesel is a Southern California based writer and educator. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of California at Riverside/Palm Desert. She writes on education, social justice, and the African American family dynamic. She has published work in Salon, Cultural Weekly, Argot and LA Parent. She has performed for the un::fade::able reading series, Dirty Laundry Lit, and the Table Lit reading series. She, along with her husband, curate literary arts events in Orange and Riverside Counties. This is her 4th year curating at Boca de Oro.

Sarah Sulewski

Sarah Sulewski She is an activist, speech and debate coach, actress, and TV/radio personality. She holds a BA in Communication Studies with a concentration in Communications/Journalism from Tennessee State University. Sarah is a former competitive speaker and Captain for the 2019-2020 highly decorated Tennessee State Speech and Debate Team. She has won numerous titles during her competitive career including Best Speaker at the CCCFA State Championship in 2018, quarterfinalist in poetry interpretation, Semi-finalist in duo interpretation at the AFA National Tournament, and Best Speaker at the Tennessee State Championship in 2019, just to name a few. In addition, Sarah is the host of the radio show “Activist of Today,” where she provides a platform to shine light on the activists who are committed to being the change they wish to see in the world.


Zoe-Raven is a Black Queer artist and abolitionist. She has a passion for painting, digital art, music, poetry and most of all community advocacy. She uses all mediums to explore her experiences as a Black Woman and to encourage folks to cultivate a deeper understanding of justice and community. She is also a founder of OC Protests Community Coalition a community advocacy and mutual aid organization. To find out more about Zoe-Raven and her work go to @ocprotests on instagram or ocprotests.org

6:00PM - 10:00PM

Lead Curator: Jeffrey Frisch
OCCCA “Drama Story-Telling in Art”

“Drama Story-Telling in Art”

Telling stories is what artists do. Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (OCCCA) presents Drama:  Story-Telling in Art, a juried exhibition of all media. We don’t like drama in our personal lives but we demand it from art.  Narrative is king again after a long period of critical banishment.Telling stories is what artists do now. Art has become melodramatic, competing for attention in a media-saturated society.  Personal, political, and social issues are often approached through storytelling, such as documentary or confession. Down through the centuries, the stories told in art have sustained humanity’s spirit.The exhibition will discover parallels between worlds we live in and worlds we can only imagine.