Voices at the Center of American Literature

A Reading and Conversation Series Celebrating BIPOC and LGBTQ Authors

As if from hibernation, America has woken up from the pandemic to new awareness and change. These phenomena will be the basis of Voices at the Center of American Literature, a series of intergenerational conversations on topics including the treatment of Black and Afro-Latinx voices in the wake of George Floyd’s murder; increasing dialog and mutual awareness between Afro-Latinx and Latinx communities; cultivating intersectionality between LGBTQ, trans, Latinx, and Black communities; writers’ obligation to create change vs. writing for pleasure; and the question of “own voice” and “keeping in lane” vs. traditional storytelling.

Each conversation will feature two to three nationally known LGBTQ and BIPOC authors. A moderator will frame the larger topic for the audience, introduce the speakers, and facilitate conversation between the speakers and question-and-answer sessions between the speakers and audience.

These rich readings and conversations will occur between October 2022 and June 2023, online and at the Hen House Literary Center in Pasadena.

The events will be streamed live on Red Hen’s Facebook page, YouTube channel, LinkedIn page, and website at redhen.org/virtual.

This series of events is made possible in part by funding from the National Endowment of the Arts.

October 9, 2022

Juan Felipe Herrera and Carlos Allende, in conversation with Kristen Millares Young

Funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, Voices at the Center of American Literature will feature readings and conversations by and with BIPOC and LGBTQ+ authors to discuss visibility, community, and navigating multiple identities, plus the “own voice” and personal narrative. Award-winning journalist and novelist Kristen Millares Young will moderate this fascinating conversation with former U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera and award-winning novelist Carlos Allende.

ASL interpreting services will be provided. This event will take place in-person at the Hen House Literary Center in Pasadena, California, and will also be livestreamed on Red Hen Press’s website at redhen.org/virtual, Red Hen’s YouTube Channel, and Red Hen’s Facebook Page.

Son of farmworkers, born in Fowler California, Juan Felipe Herrera lives in Fresno with his wife, poet, Margarita Robles. During the last fifty years, he has dedicated his life to poetry, community, art and teaching. In the last ten years, he has been the Poetry Laureate of the United States and California. His various awards include the National Book Critic’s Circle Award, Guggenheim Fellowship, LA Times Robert Kirsch Award, Latino Hall of Fame Award, Pushcart Prize , Fred Cody Lifetime Achievement Award (SF), UCLA Chancellor’s Medal,  the UC-Riverside Lifetime/ LARB  and the Lifetime Ruth Lily Pegasus Award from the Poetry Foundation.  The Juan Felipe Herrera Elementary School opened in Fresno, Summer of 2022. One of his inspiration poems was placed in the capsule of the NASA Lucy robotic interplanetary Spacecraft Mission and launched in the Fall, 2021. With over thirty books in various genres, his recent work is Every Day We Get More Illegal (City Lights Publishers). Kids to Kids Choir / Children’s Book (Valley Children’s Press, Sept, 2022 is his most recent Picture Book. Graduate of UCLA, Stanford, University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop.

Carlos Allende is a media psychology scholar and a writer of fiction. He has written two previous novels: Cuadrillas y Contradanzas, a historical melodrama set during the War of Reform in Mexico, and Love, or the Witches of Windward Circle, a horror farce set in Venice, California. Based on his research on narrative persuasion and audience engagement, he developed the course The Psychology of Compelling Storytelling, which he teaches in the Writers’ Program at UCLA Extension. He lives in Santa Monica with his husband.

Kristen Millares Young is a journalist, essayist, and author of the novel Subduction, a Paris Review staff pick called “whip-smart” by the Washington Post, “a brilliant debut” by the Seattle Times, and“utterly unique and important” by Ms. Magazine. Winner of Nautilus and IPPY awards, Subduction was shortlisted for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and named a finalist for two International Latino Book Awards and Foreword Indies Book of the Year in 2020. Her essays, book reviews, and investigations appear in the Washington Post, the Guardian, Literary Hub, andthe anthologies Advanced Creative Nonfiction, Latina Outsiders, and Alone Together, winner of a 2021 Washington State Book Award. A former Prose Writer-in-Residence at Hugo House, she is the editor of Seismic: Seattle, City of Literature, a finalist for a 2021 Washington State Book Award. Kristen was the researcher for the New York Times team that produced “Snow Fall,” which won a Pulitzer Prize.