Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

[CANCELLED] The Stone Center provides platform for voices of Latin America and its diaspora at New Orleans Book Festival

March 5th, 2020

The New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane University has canceled its inaugural event for 2020, citing concerns over the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and adherence to university protocol. Please visit the Tulane News website for more information.

Story by Erika Pettersen, Stone Center graduate student and Publicity Assistant

The Stone Center for Latin American Studies is proud to participate in the inaugural New Orleans Book Festival, taking place March 19th through 21st at Tulane University’s uptown campus. This multi-day celebration will feature the voices and perspectives of fiction and non-fiction writers through a broad range of activities, including readings, panel discussions, and keynote speeches. Throughout the festival, the Stone Center will present events that showcase authors from Latin America and its diaspora.

The third installment of the Spring 2020 Latin American Writers Series, which brings together Latin America’s most representative creative voices and the editorial entrepreneurs that publish them, will take place in conjunction with the festival on Thursday, March 19th at 5:30 pm at the Greenleaf Conference Room. Guatemalan author and editor Rodrigo Fuentes will share insights from his experiences as a short story writer and founder of literary publications. This event will be held in Spanish.

On the morning of Friday, March 20th, author Rebecca Balcárcel will visit Hynes Middle School. Rebecca took her MFA from Bennington Writing Seminars and received their Jane Kenyon Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in journals such as Third Coast and North American Review. Pecan Grove Press of St. Mary’s University published her book of poems, Palabras in Each Fist. At Hynes Middle School, she will present her debut book for young readers, The Other Half of Happy, which tells the story of a half-Latina, half-Anglo seventh grader navigating “life in the Guatemalan-American hyphen.” This Young Adult novel has received recognition as a Pura Belpré Honor Book and ALSC Notable Book, and was named one of the Top Ten First Novels of 2019 by the American Library Association’s Booklist. Participating 6th and 7th graders will receive a copy of her book thanks to the generosity of a Lavin-Bernick grant received by the Stone Center for Latin American Studies.

The Stone Center will also be participating in Family Day at the New Orleans Book Festival, taking place from 10am – 2pm on Saturday, March 21st at the Berger Family Lawn. Family Day will be a lively, free-for-all event that is open and accessible to all children in our community and their families.
In partnership with the Scholastic Corporation, a multi-national publishing and education company, and the City of New Orleans’ Office of Youth and Families, the Festival will engage with teachers and school organizations in advance of the festival to encourage attendance and participation.

In collaboration with the Pebbles Collection, the Stone Center will engage with readers of all ages throughout the day by sharing resources from our latest Latin American Writers Series and through a traditional Mexican bookmark craft-making session. We will also present “La hora del cuento,” a bilingual story hour, featuring a reading of Omar, el jaguar and book signing with local author Andrea Olatunji, starting at 10:30 am. Andrea, who developed a passion for languages and cultures early on in her career, has taught ESL and Spanish for over twenty years in her native Uruguay and here in the United States. She holds a master’s degree in teaching with a Spanish concentration and has teaching experience in diverse settings, including a Spanish-French immersion charter school in New Orleans, Louisiana, a Spanish-French-Arabic immersion private school in Washington, DC, and a dual language public school in Alexandria, Virginia. She also chaired the Modern and Classical Languages department at an independent school in Virginia. As a teacher, in the New Orleans area Andrea always found it difficult to find the right resources. Two years ago, she decided to put her passion for books, art, and teaching together and start writing her own stories. Her mission is to validate children and instill an appreciation for diversity in them through her stories. She also aims to help educators create Spanish lessons that are effective, engaging and relevant.

The Stone Center will round out its participation in the New Orleans Book Festival with Talking Shop: Latin American Writers on the Creative Process, taking place on Saturday, March 21st at 3pm at the Race Conference Room in the LBC. This panel brings together three significant voices in Spanish-language literature: Gabriela Alemán (Ecuador), Yuri Herrera (México), and Rodrigo Fuentes (Guatemala). Moderated by local Cuban-American writer Christopher Romaguera, their conversation will explore sources of inspiration, writing practices, and the publication process in the Latin American context. The event will take place in English.