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.
Theme: Race, gender, identity, ancestry
Special Guest Artist: Lezley Saar Interviewed by Jasmine McNeal
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.
Theme: Rain of Gold, Burro Genius, Thirteen Senses
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.
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 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”
Curator: Darlene Kriesel
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.
Lead Curator: Jeffrey Frisch
Theme: OCCCA “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.