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Friday, February 23, 2024

News in Brief: Poetry Night Reading Series to host Latino, Chicano literary community

On Feb. 20 at 8 p.m., the Poetry Night Reading Series at the John Natsoulas Gallery, hosted and coordinated by Andy Jones, will feature poet and UC Davis lecturer Francisco X. Alarcón and the Writers of the New Sun, a literary collective based out of Sacramento.

Alarcón, whose body of work includes 12 volumes of poetry and several books, is a founding member of the Writers of the New Sun. They will be celebrating their 20th anniversary as a literary community, which values the “literary and artistic cultures and traditions of the Chicano, Latino, Indigenous and Spanish-language peoples” in their writings, which are in English, Spanish or a mixture of both.

Alarcón explained that the group acts as a support system, allowing each writer the chance to have their work closely critiqued by fellow writers.

“Every writer [in Writers of the New Sun] is very unique,” Alarcón said. “In my own case, it has been a very beneficial process. We get together every month; I became an author for children through this process [of getting responses from others in the literary community], and my first readers were Writers of the New Sun. I now have six titles for children. It’s very helpful to get feedback from your fellow poets.”

Alarcón emphasized the importance of the present moment to his writings. He explained how a single poem he wrote in response to the arrest of nine student protesters at the Arizona state capitol following the controversial anti-immigrant law Arizona SB 1070 triggered the development of the Facebook page “Poets Responding to SB 1070.”

“I was very moved by the actions of the student protesters,” Alarcón said. “They reminded me of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights protests, but were protesting against anti-immigration and xenophobic attitudes. I put [the poem] on Facebook and I started the page. It was incredible; thousands of people responded right away. We now have 20 poets working as moderators of the page, and still receive poems daily.”

Alarcón, as a lecturer in the Department of Spanish at UC Davis, teaches one of the very few Spanish language creative writing programs in the country. He believes that poetry is something that can be accessed and appreciated by all.

“Poetry is something universal,” Alarcón said. “I think everyone’s a poet. It’s a way of expression that’s essential to society.”

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