News Column

International Book Festival Attracts Hispanic Authors

Sept. 20, 2012

Yadira Betances, The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.

Hispanic family reading

Luminaries in the Hispanic literary and film world will be in Lawrence, Mass., for the seventh annual International Book Festival Friday and Saturday.

Headlining the festival are Jacobo Morales, an Oscar nominated film director from Puerto Rico; Cuban poet Zoe Valdes; Luis Alberto Ambroggio; Dominican poet Marianela Medrano; Angel Esteban, a writer and professor at Granada University, and Armando Lucas Correa, editor of People en espanol, the Spanish equivalent of People magazine.

"The big names coming is part of the objective that we want to create," said the Rev. Joel Almono, festival president and pastor of Grace Episcopal Church. "I've always said we have to bring the best to Lawrence and this is exactly what we're doing."

Local writers include children's book author, poet and Lawrence High Spanish teacher Cesar Sanchez Beras and writer, book publisher and translator Yanitzia Canetti. The festival was founded by the late Jose Balbuena, as part of the Dominican parade in Lawrence. Balbuena, a writer and bibliophile owned Nobel book store on Haverhill Street. Due to its connection with the parade, Rev. Almono said it only attracted local writers and catered to one ethnic group. When Almono became the festival's president two years ago, the first thing he did was add more international flavor.

That is reflected not only in the poets and authors who have participated, but also in the festival's logo. It is an open

book with a painting of the Ayer Mill clock, a map of North America and several Latin American flags in the background. This year's theme is, "Hispanics do Read."

"With the caliber of speakers coming, we want to show that it's a misconception that Hispanics do not read. It's the opposite," Almono said. The fair will open Friday with a postmous honor to Balbuena presented to his family. It will also include art exhibits, literary discussions, open forums, poetry reading, artistic presentations and informational tables by local organizations and consulates.

There will be poetry reading for children and cultural and educational activities for teenagers including depositing their essays and writings in English or Spanish in the "Anonymous Mailbox."

There will also be folkloric dancing and ballet. Cuban singer and actress Xiomara Laugart, who portrayed Cuban singing icon Celia Cruz on Broadway, will perform.

The festival is run by a 15-member committee made up of writers, artists and residents who migrated to the area from Spain, Colombia, Argentina and Cuba. Almono said the committee's diversity helped in getting writers from various countries. He said writer and publisher Yanetzia Cannetti was most helpful thanks to her connections in the literary field. "It will be a historic event never seen before in the city of Lawrence," said Rosa Garo, member of the organizing committee. " Especially for those of us who will be witnesses to such a great cultural event."

The events are as follows:


Esperanza Academy, 198 Garden St., 6-8 p.m., Festival opens with welcoming remarks by Rev. Joel Almono, as well as speeches by Jacob Morales, Luis Ambroggio and other guests. Folk dance performance follows.

Senior Center, 155 Haverhill St.,

7-9 p.m., poetry and book readings.


Senior Center,

9 a.m., Yanitzia Canetti reads from her children's books. Participating children receive a free book. Discussion on how to create good reading habits and the role of a librarian today.

10:30 a.m. Luis Ambroggio reads from his works. Book signing follows.

11:30 a.m., Diego Mansilla, who teaches advanced techniques and skills in translation at University of Massachusetts Boston speaks on, "Are you bilingual? Can you translate a book?"

12:30 p.m. Art and photo exhibit.

2 p.m., lecture by Jacobo Morales

6 p.m., Angel Esteban's book signing

Esperanza Academy

7 p.m., Discussion on the future of literature, writers and readers by Morales, Ambroggio, Sanchez Beras , Almono, Esteban, Valdes, Correa and Cannetti.

8 p.m., Flamenco demonstration by Sabrina Aviles.

8:30 p.m., closing ceremonies.

Source: (c)2012 The Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Mass.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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