by Brian Dunlap
Los Ángeles poet and community activists Jessica Ceballos y Campbell announced the other week that she has been awarded one of two All Voices Fellowships, a writers retreat in Idyllwild in September. As she said on Facebook, “I’ll be at my first non-self designated all-inclusive retreat…” and her excitement was palpable. “Yay!” Ceballos y Campbell exclaimed.
The All Voices Fellowships, which Ceballos y Campbell was one of two recipients of “pays for everything (except for travel…).” This writers retreat has no workshops and no responsibilities as the point is simply to give writers the time and space to write. The All Voices Fellowships are open to writers who identify with any group that is traditionally underrepresented in literature and publishing and have some financial reason for not being able to attend.
Jessica Ceballos y Campbell is an indigenous me/xicana-afro-euskaldunak poet, writer, teaching artist, community & arts advocate, etc. who for over 20 years has built a career centered on exploring the liminal intersections of art and personal narrative, and how those are affected by and inform the spaces we occupy and exist in.
Ceballos y Campbell grew up mostly in the various neighborhoods of The Eastside/Northeast L.A., living first in City Terrace, then Highland Park and Glassell Park, to the occasional Temple City, North El Monte, and Diamond Bar, with one childhood year spent in Whittier, and a teenage year spent in Glendale, and then South Pasadena.
Also, in mid-August, Fresno born and raised, L.A. based poet Joseph Rios, was awarded an American Book Award for his debut collection of poems Shadowboxing (2017, Omnidawn). “I cannot believe I won an American Book Award…All love to the mighty Ishmael Reed!!!” he said on Facebook.
Shadowboxing is a collection about fighting through, understanding and coming to terms with all the unfished and impersonated versions of the self. The poems, “are situated at the crossroads of the Chicano and Fresno poetic traditions,” as Craig Santos Perez says in his blurb. To explore the different versions of his “self”, Rios uses a wide variety of literary genres such as the epistle, the dramatic dialogue, epigrams from popular culture, and he even employs a romantic touch.
The American Book Awards were created in part by writer Ishmael Reed 40 years ago in the Bay Area. The awards were created to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community. The purpose of the awards is to recognize literary excellence without limitations or restrictions.
The Los Angeles literary community congratulates both Jessica Ceballos y Campbell and Joseph Rios for their literary achievements and wishes them continued success.