Charlie Vázquez: Promoting Writers in the Bronx

Charlie Vázquez (Photo by Rachel Kramer Busell, Creative Commons License)

(Photo by Rachel Kramer Bussel, Creative Commons License)

When talking about Latino literature in New York, the name Charlie Vázquez, 42, immediately pops up. A Bronx native of Cuban and Puerto Rican heritage, he is the author of two novels: “Buzz and Israel” (2005) and “Contraband” (2010), various short stories, and two books of poems. Vázquez has been a judge at literary award ceremonies, editor and co-editor of two anthologies of Latino literature, and is the NYC Coordinator for Festival de la Palabra, a literary festival based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

He is a prominent figure in the LGBT movement, and co-founder of the bilingual Editorial Trance (described on its website as “a digital publishing platform that seeks to broaden the literary margins of the Latino experience in both English and Spanish”).

He was recently appointed director of the Bronx Writers Center (BWC), a program of the Bronx Council on the Arts. The initiative supports and promotes an appetite for writing and literature in the borough, and is funded by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and other organizations.

What is your role as director of the Bronx Writers Center?

To manage and organize the workshops, which are offered free of charge once a month and geared towards fiction, poetry, and essay writers, among others. Usually 10-15 people attend and it’s open to the public.

What workshops are currently being offered?

It’s a series called “In Progress,” a creative writing workshop for fiction and nonfiction. It’s free; the schedules and locations can be seen on the website at www.bronxarts.org.

What is your goal as director of the Bronx Writers Center?

There are many poets here in New York and that’s good. However, I think there’s a lack of storytellers. What I would like to do via the BWC is support and help train a new generation of fiction writers: novelists, short story writers, etc.

How did you start out as a writer?

About 20 years ago. I was living in Oregon, in the western part of the country; I was a musician and I started writing lyrics for songs. Then I wrote poetry and moved on to fiction.

You are a prominent figure in the LGBT movement. What was your contribution?

I’ve done my part in this movement as an editor.  It began on the Internet. In 2011, along with Charles Rice-González, I co-edited the anthology “From Macho to Mariposa,” and we received written works via the Internet, half of which came from people who weren’t even known. At the time the movement was small, but today it’s rather large.

The free literary workshop series “In Progress” takes place every month at the future headquarters of the Bronx Council on the Arts at 2700 East Tremont Avenue and the corner of St. Raymond Avenue.

The next workshop will take place on Monday, February 10 from 6:30-8:30pm, and will focus on memoirs.

For more information, visit www.bronxarts.org

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