Award-winning writer comes to PAC
Palo Alto College kicked off this spring’s installment of the Working Writers Series with a visit from award-winning poet and author Tino Villanueva. Born in San Marcos, Texas to a family of migrant workers, Villanueva served in the U.S. Army before earning bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Writing in both Spanish and English, Villanueva writes poems exploring themes of memory, longing, and history.
“This is the dialogue and intellectual conversation that we need to have. Traditionally, literature — like any of the arts — has been part of the community and society that illustrates what’s going on,” said Vicente Guillot, chair of the English department at the College and organizer of the series. “This is a way to learn about what’s happening. It’s not only about the writer and the readings.”
Abraham Rodriguez is a digital art student and a staff editor for the College’s literary journal, the Eleven Rivers Review (ERR). He has attended a number of Working Writers Series events, and says listening to the authors read their creative writing is a unique way to connect with them. In his own art, he is inspired “just from looking at life,” and he enjoys literature as a different kind of self-expression.
“Students learn it [writing] in textbooks, and they think it’s more to study — to distribute factual information,” said Rodriguez. “Poetry is a beautiful insight into how the poets represent the world through their words. It’s a new experience that I think new people would really benefit from. It’s a new perspective from their own.”
The series brings writers who can expose students to authors with styles and perspectives which students may not have been exposed to previously, according to Hunter Bates, academic program specialist at the Integrated Reading and Writing Learning Center and lead of the Eleven Rivers Review.
“I think it’s great that we provide these opportunities because I’m sure a lot of students are not familiar with the writers,” said Bates. “Those academic experiences are very enriching to students and open doors that they didn’t know they might be interested in or even know existed.”
Each year, the Working Writers Series also invites Palo Alto College students to do readings. Like many artists, creative writers often find their inspiration in personal experiences, so sharing their work can be intimidating — and reading it aloud can be even more daunting. However, the opportunity to do readings of their work while in college prepares them for what could become their future careers as writers, said Bates.
“As students who are interested in furthering their writing career, it builds their confidence and allows them to reach the next level and move past any kind of intimidation they might have,” said Bates, adding that the event will occur at the end of the semester and will coincide with the release of the Eleven Rivers Review.Poet and author Tino Villanueva is scheduled to read his award-winning works at Palo Alto College as part of the Working Writers Series. On Tuesday, Feb. 7 from 6:30 – 8 p.m., the College will hold An Evening with Tino Villanueva with readings and a reception to follow. On Wednesday, Feb. 8, Villanueva will hold a reading with Q&A and book signing. Both events will be held in the Legacy Room (Ozuna 101) and are free and open to the public.