Finding the community where we best belong is a lifelong quest. For the writers attending the Voices of our Nations Arts Foundation workshops this summer, the University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences became a welcoming new home.
On the Coral Gables campus, aspiring writers of color from across the country gathered to learn in sessions taught by their successful heroes — other writers of color.
These sessions over the years have inspired more than 2,000 writers and have been taught by writing luminaries including Jeffery Renard Allen, Mat Johnson, Cristina García, Chris Abani, David Mura, Tananarive Due, Suheir Hammad, and Junot Díaz among others.
“The College of Arts and Sciences is pleased to welcome the prestigious VONA/Voices to the University of Miami,” said Leonidas Bachas, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in a release.
“The presence of VONA/Voices on our Coral Gables campus will have an enormous impact on our community as we support and engage the university’s commitment to diversity, featuring nationally and internationally known writers of color like Junot Díaz, Chris Abani, Staceyann Chin, and our own director of creative writing, M. Evelina Galang,” he said.
Elmaz Abinader, Junot Díaz, Victor Díaz, and Diem Jones founded the VONA/Voices Workshop in 1999. It was held for 15 years in California’s Bay Area, first at the University of San Francisco and then at the University of California at Berkeley.
Galang, a writer, VONA board member, and program director of the UM MFA Writing Program, initiated the idea for the recent move. Executive Director Jones said he sees a kinship in Miami.
“Not only is Miami a natural home for cultural journeys, we are thrilled to partner with the UM Creative Writing Leadership which has clearly demonstrated an alignment with the mission of VONA serving the writing community of color,” he said in a release. “We are honored, humbled and excited about making this next step in our partnership with the University of Miami as well as landing in the international, cross-cultural hub of Miami.”
“It does matter where VONA is held,” VONA program director Abinader said in a release.
“It’s difficult to ask writers to talk about the vexing challenges of writing race, of developing inclusive literature, and having courage to create and be seen in an environment that is not welcoming,” she said. “The enthusiasm of the UM College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of English, as well as, the relevance of the political complexities of Miami, will foster discussion, reflection and inspiration for our writers.”
Books & Books hosted faculty readings in support of VONA/Voices Workshop. The events were free and open to the public. To learn more visit http://www.voicesatvona.org/
The games of heroes
Congratulations to Coral Gables Fire Department members Brandon Selts and Anthony Jinete on winning gold and bronze medals at the 2015 World Police & Fire Games held recently in Fairfax, Virginia.
Firefighter Selts competed in the Men’s Swimming (18-29 Division) 50 Meter Freestyle and placed first among a field of eighteen competitors from around the world. His time was an impressive 24.010 seconds to win the gold medal.
Firefighter Jinete competed in the Men’s Cross County (18 and Over Division) 5,000-meter run to receive the bronze medal for his time of 25:08. Jinete competed in a field of 10 athletes with runners from Germany, Spain, Mexico, India, Australia, and Canada to name a few.
Selts and Jinete volunteered their own time to represent the city of Coral Gables at the games.
The World Police & Fire Games brings in 12,000 professional, public safety athletes from 70 countries to compete in 60-plus sports. They attempt to qualify for more than 1,600 medal events.
The World Police & Fire Games Federation, a nonprofit organization run by the Californian Police Athletics Federation, established the games in 1985. The international sporting event offers police officers, firefighters, and customs and correction officers the opportunities to share their athletic excellence. For more, visit http://fairfax2015.com/
It’s teatime from 2 to 4 p.m., Aug. 12, for the GFWC Coco Plum Woman’s Club at 1375 Sunset Dr., Coral Gables. Everyone is invited to attend the group’s eighth annual Tea Party with a fashion show by Talbots.
Admission to the tea is $25 and the event will raise money for Canine Companions for Independence for Veterans. For more on this important group, visit http://www.cci.org/
For a reservation to the GFWC Coco Plum Woman’s Club Tea Party, call Nadine LaGuette at 305-856-1816 or write to Heike Leibkuchler at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Aug. 7.
Learn how to network
Anne Freedman, the founder of Speakout, will give tips and advice in a talk “What to Say at Networker Events” at the next breakfast gathering of the Rotary Club of Miami Dadeland-Pinecrest. The event is 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., Aug. 11, at the Dadeland Marriott Hotel, 9090 S. Dadeland Blvd.
If you can’t make it to this meeting, club members and guests will hear Miami-Dade Public Defender Carlos Martinez speak Aug. 25, at the same time and place, on the topic “Adult Prison is No Place for the Young.”
This community-involved group meets for breakfast on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. It is comprised of professionals and business executives who live and/or work in the Kendall and Pinecrest neighborhoods.
Each year members raise scholarship money for deserving college students at their yearly golf tournament. This year they gave $16,000 in scholarships that are distributed in $500 to $1,000 amounts per year.
If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at email@example.com.