CORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 8, 2015) – For the first time, leading authors and aspiring writers from the U.S. and marginalized writers from across the world are gathered at the University of Miami campus this month to participate in the renowned Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA)/Voices Workshops for Writers of Color, the only multi-genre workshop for writers of color in the United States.
Previously held at the University of California, Berkeley, VONA/Voices has partnered with UM’s College of Arts and Sciences Creative Writing Program to hold its first two weeklong sessions in Miami.
For each weeklong workshop, established, nationally known writers of poetry, memoirs, fiction, political pieces, and plays are facilitating sessions during which participants exchange their works, share strategies, and talk about their craft, practices, and lives as writers of color.
The residency program allows writers an opportunity to work one-on-one with selected faculty members. The Thursday evenings of each workshop week bring free, open community events, where VONA/Voices faculty will read their works.
Coral Gables bookstore Books & Books, 265 Aragon Avenue, Coral Gables, will host this week’s readings on Thursday, July 2, and is slated to feature:
Faith Adiele, Travel Writing: Faith Adiele is the author of The Nigerian-Nordic Girl’s Guide to Lady Problems, a travel memoir about becoming Thailand’s first black Buddhist nun, which received the PEN Beyond Margins Award for Best Memoir of 2004. She is co-editor of Coming of Age Around the World: A Multicultural Anthology, and the writer, narrator, and subject of the PBS documentary “My Journey Home.”
Chitra Divakaruni, Residency: Divarkaruni writes often about her life in Northern California, where she lived for many years after moving from India to the U.S. Her books include The Mistress of Spices and Sister of My Heart, which have been made into movies.
Tanarive Due, Speculative Fiction: Due is an American Book Award-winning, Essence bestselling author of Blood Colony, The Living Blood, The Good House, and Joplin’s Ghost. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
M. Evelina Galang, Fiction: Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences, Galang was named one of the 100 Most Influential Filipinas in the World by Filipina Women’s Network. She is the winner of the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award in the Advancement of Human Rights and the 2004 Association of Writers and Writing Programs Prize in the Novel for One Tribe. Galang is also the author of the story collection Her Wild American Self and novel Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery.
Achy Obejas, LGBTQ Narrative: Author of the critically acclaimed novels Ruins and Days of Awe, Obejas edited and translated into English Havana Noir, a collection of crime stories by Cuban writers, and translated into Spanish Junot Díaz’s novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
Willie Perdomo, Poetry: Author of The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, Perdomo is a two-time New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellow. His collection Where a Nickel Costs a Dime was a finalist for the Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award.
Andrew X. Pham, Memoir: Pham tells the story of his life in Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia through works such as Catfish and Mandala and The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars. He received undergraduate and graduate degrees in aerospace engineering and an MBA before deciding to become a writer.
The first week’s session took place on Thursday, June 25 at Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ in Coral Gables, and featured:
Elmaz Abinader, Political Content and VONA/Voices Co-Founder: Inspired by the dislocation of her parents from Lebanon to the United States, Abinader’s work addresses the Arab World and Diaspora. Her works include the memoir The Children of the Roojme: A Family’s Journey from Lebanon, poetry collections This House My Bones and In the Country of My Dreams, and the one-woman play Country of Origin.
Staceyann Chin, Memoir: Jamaican-born spoken-word performing artist and LGBT rights political activist, Chin has written about her struggles growing up in Jamaica. Her work includes Wildcat Woman and Stories Surrounding My Coming and the autobiographical novel The Other Side of Paradise. Her work has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Pittsburgh Daily, and has been featured on 60 Minutes.
Junot Díaz, Fiction and VONA/Voices Co-Founder: Pulitzer Prize winner Díaz has won numerous prizes for his books, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This Is How You Lose Her. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award.
Kim Euell, Playwriting: Passionately committed to promoting socially relevant new plays, Euell founded Voices!, a play development program at Hartford Stage to showcase new plays by underrepresented writers. Her own works have been performed from New York to Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Detroit, Savannah, and Louisville.
Ruth Forman, Poetry: Forman has written three award-winning books: poetry collections: We are the Young Magicians and Renaissance, and children’s story Young Cornrows Callin’ Out the Moon.
Marjorie Liu, Popular Fiction: Marjorie M. Liu is a New York Times bestselling author of paranormal romance and urban fantasy novels, including the 2005 paranormal romance Tiger Eye, and comic books. Her comics work includes a number Marvel Comics series related to X-Men and Wolverine, including NYX, X-23, Dark Wolverine, and Astonishing X-Men.
David Mura, Residency: David Mura has written two memoirs: Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei, which won a 1991 Josephine Miles Book Award from the Oakland PEN and was listed in the New York Times Notable Books of Year, and Where the Body Meets Memory: An Odyssey of Race, Sexuality and Identity. His novel Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, John Gardner Fiction Prize, and Virginia Commonwealth University Cabell First Novelist Award.
VONA/Voices is committed to artistic excellence, social justice, and the empowerment of the community of writers of color. Since its founding in 1999 by Elmaz Abinader, Junot Díaz, Victor Díaz, and Diem Jones, VONA/Voices has inspired more than 2,000 writers of color. More information about VONA/Voices at UM is available at www.as.miami.edu/vona.