On June 28th, immediately after the completion of my Voices of Our Nations Arts (VONA) workshop at UC Berkeley I boarded a plane to Las Vegas for the American Library Association Book Conference and the 2014 International Latino Awards where I would be signing copies and attending an awards ceremony for my award winning book, Letters to My Daughter.
I was not prepared for the 105 degree heat of the Nevada desert that awaited me. I can only compare it to a 500 degree oven coupled with someone breathing hot air on your back. In a word, it was HOT. Considering that I’d just left cool, overcast weather in Berkeley, CA the sudden change of temperature was almost unbearable. I arrived at the Las Vegas Convention around 3pm as part of the Latino Literacy Now – International Latino Book Award exhibit.
I have to admit being a part of such a huge exhibit for a new author like myself was a bit overwhelming in the best way. When I first wrote my book a year ago I never imagined that it would get the attention that it’s received. To be nominated for Best Poetry Book is a dream I didn’t even know I wanted until it happened. And to be able to participate in book conferences and award ceremonies because of it, is not only unbelievable, it is also very humbling.
The book was inspired by the birth of my daughter so it is something that is very personal and close to my heart. I am so grateful that it has been recognized as one of the best poetry books in 2014 by Latino Literacy Now. There are so many amazing Latin@ writers. Many who never get the recognition they deserve. Latino Literacy Now’s commitment to celebrating and honoring Latin@ writers is so important.
It is important not only to our culture, but also in creating and cementing our legacies. We must honor ourselves if we expect others to honor us. We must tell our stories even if we believe no one will read them (someone will). We must remember that our stories are important. Our stories are worth telling, even if main stream America doesn’t understand them. We have to remain true to ourselves and to our history.
Sitting amongst all those talented Latin@ writers in the Clark County Library Theatre for the 2014 ILBA Awards reaffirmed for me that my writing matters. My voice, my words, my stories cannot and will not be silenced. I will continue writing so that when I’m long gone a piece of me will live on forever.