Thursday, February 2, 2012


When I was a little boy, I had the following poster on my wall:

Turns out my jump shot wasn't true, even after I got a pair of Jordans, so in the end, the weapon I chose was words. I read a good many of them, and later, I wrote some too. Now what is true, for me, is that books can shake up the world. Believe it.

Another writer who believes it is coming to WVU next week. That writer is Dagoberto Gilb, Guggenheim recipient and PEN/Hemingway Award winner, among other things. He is a former teacher of mine, and he writes from the gut and soul, from las alturas and from hoyos. He spills it on the page. (Those last two lines are lazily ripped-off from one of his books, Gritos.)

But I've gathered that we live in a digital culture, that we are a people who need something more than books. You're looking at a screen right now. Do you want some footage? Have some:

So, words are the best kinds of weapons. Consider that without the writing of Fred Cruz, there would be no footage to watch. Consider further that without the writers who later wrote of Fred Cruz, including Dagoberto Gilb (who wrote the script for Writ Writer), there would be no footage to watch. It's the passing down of the words that matters. Before you clicked the video, how many of you knew Fred Cruz's story? Of more immediate concern, how many of you know what is happening in Arizona as I write these very words? Right now, in the Tuscon Unified School District, books are being taken from the students who need them. The words of Dagoberto Gilb, among many others, are being removed from schools' Mexican American Studies programs. In the face of this absurdity, writers are employing their full arsenal of weapons, including words of outrage, hilarity, wit and wisdom. Check this out from Tony Diaz, founder of Nuestra Palabra:

Spread the word to anyone who knows or wants to know the truth about the power of books. Tell them to come to the Gold Ballroom of the Mountainlair this Wednesday, February 8th at 7:30 p.m. A writer will be reading some real words there. His name is Dagoberto Gilb.

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