Please Consider #Giving to the Bronx Writers Center Today… #DoGood

Please Consider #Giving to the Bronx Writers Center Today… #DoGood

I became Director of the Bronx Writers Center at Bronx Council on the Arts to make a difference in the neighborhoods I grew up in and beyond. The Bronx was a different place back in the 1970s and 1980s, yet continues to confront unique challenges.

Nearly 1.4 million people from around the world reside here, nearly a third of which live below the poverty line. We continue to struggle with health issues such as exorbitant asthma rates, among others. Yet there’s magic here like nowhere else.

It was here that I discovered the genius of one-time resident Edgar Allan Poe in grade school, where I began writing lyrics and poetry that would grow into a writing habit that would produce works of published fiction years later. Now I help others do the same.

You can help us tell our stories. Please make a donation today and help us reach more voices in 2017… I’m not asking for much.

$20 buys supplies for 2 writing workshops
$50 buys supplies for 5 writing workshops
$100 produces 1 writing workshop
$500 produces 5 writing workshops



Charlie Vázquez

Director, Bronx Writers Center

Bronx Council on the Arts

On BronxNet: The Future of the Bronx

The legendary Rhina Valentín hosted me on BronxNet’s OPEN last Friday, where we discussed the history of the arts in the Bronx and what we should prepare for as the rest of the city eyes our borough, which has been designated as the location of the “next arts scene”. All of this will be discussed this Wednesday evening at the Bronx Library Center (6:00-8:00pm), where Latino Rebels founder Julio Ricardo Varela (former Bronxite) will host myself, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, interim director of En Foco Bill Aguado, and actress Liza Colón-Zayas for Live From El Bronx: a discussion about the Puerto Rican community in the Bronx and in NYC. This conversation will explore our history, the context(s) of the newly-coined “piano district,” and other topics relating to gentrification and the arts.

Click here to RSVP

San Juan Noir Anthology Launches Amidst Puerto Rican Debt Crisis


San Juan Noir is an unprecedented volume of contemporary Puerto Rican fiction, edited by renowned author and creator of Puerto Rico’s Festival de la Palabra, Mayra Santos-Febres. She’ll be attending this special New York City launch, alongside anthology contributors Charlie Vázquez, Wilfredo Burgos Matos and Manuel Meléndez—as part of Festival de la Palabra. This will take place at the Loisaida Center on Friday, October 28th at 7:00p.m. Publisher Akashic Books will be on-hand to sell both Spanish-language and English-language copies of this breakthrough volume of Puerto Rican crime fiction, which features writers from the island and the diaspora. Come celebrate history…

Loisaida Center is located at 710 E 9th Street, NY, NY, 10009. Info:


“Puerto Rico is often portrayed as sandy beaches, casinos, luxury hotels, relaxation, and never-ending pleasure,” Santos-Febres says. “But the financial downturn of 2008 hit us hard and as in many crises, art, music, and literature have also flourished. We have responded to our crisis with many stories to tell. And, especially in these times, many of those stories are noir.”


The fifteen stories compiled in San Juan Noir have been published in both Spanish and English editions. Other contributing authors include: Ernesto Quiñonez, Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro, José Rabelo, Luis Negrón, Ana María Fuster Lavín, Janette Becerra, Manolo Núñez Negrón, Tere Dávila, Edmaris Carazo and Alejandro Álvarez Nieves.

To order copies go to:



San Juan Noir is Here!


Hello, friends and familia:

Lots of great news…

First up: San Juan Noir is out in both Spanish and English editions, and can be purchased online or ordered through your local bookseller (support bookstores!). The fifteen stories in this collection of terror, suspense and murder are set in Metropolitan San Juan and were crafted by authors such as editor Mayra Santos-Febres, as well as Ernesto Quiñones, Luis Negrón, Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro, myself and many others.

This is major breakthrough for the Puerto Rican fiction writers community. All the authors are of Puerto Rican heritage and are being features together for the first time in both Spanish and English collections. Translations were provided by Will Vanderhyden and Alejandro Álvarez Nieves.

A reading and book signing celebration will be held at the Loisaida Center in New York City on Friday, October 28 at 7:00pm. I’ll be posting more news about this soon as well as an update on my next venture,, a website that will feature resources for emerging and other writers. More on that to come soon!

(Still wrestling the novel demon.)


Charlie Vázquez





Akashic Books to Publish San Juan Noir in October!

I’ve had the fortune of befriending and working with many dazzling writers from Puerto Rico and the diaspora since joining Festival de la Palabra in 2011, the brainchild of world-renowned author, professor and literary activist Mayra Santos-Febres. This yearly celebration of Puerto Rican literature and voices opened up a whole new world for me as a writer unsure of where I belonged, as an artist born and raised in the strange (Interzone) limbo between two cultures: that of precious Puerto Rico and of the sprawling United States; of the global crossroads of New York City where I was born, as well as Oregon, California and Baja Norte, México where I lived from 1988 to 2006. (More below.)


The “noir” style in film and literature appealed to me at an early age, as someone born and raised in the Bronx during its most horrific period: the 1970s/1980s. The grit and horrors people romanticize from those times were everyday life for those of us from New York’s most infamous borough. Coming of age amidst it infused all my creative work (music included) with a dark edge that came naturally. This began with early tomes of poetry that grew into micro-fictions that grew into macro-fictions, alongside electronic and other music projects beginning in 1989 and ending in 1998, when I ended my musical journey to focus on creative writing.

So when I saw the cover for Akashic Books’ upcoming San Juan Noir yesterday (to be published bilingually, as I understand) I felt a rush of many complex emotions, as though decades of wandering from one project to the next finally led me somewhere meaningful. I’m thrilled to announce that this groundbreaking volume will “hit the shelves” in October 2016 and hope that it’ll introduce its riveting storytellers to a whole new audience of eager readers. There are no words to describe my gratitude at being chosen to accompany the following authors on this tantalizing journey:

Wilfredo J. Burgos Matos, Ernesto Quiñonez, Mayra Santos-Febres, José Rabelo, Luis Negrón, Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro, Ana María Fuster Lavin, Janette Becerra, Manolo Nuñez Negron, Tere Dávila, Edmaris Carazo, Alejandro Álvarez Nieves, and Manuel Meléndez.

To receive future updates you can join the Festival de la Palabra Facebook page here.


Puerto Rican Author Eleanor Parker Sapia’s Feminist Historical Breakthrough, A Decent Woman, and the Future of #BoricuaLit

Puerto Rican Author Eleanor Parker Sapia’s Feminist Historical Breakthrough, A Decent Woman, and the Future of #BoricuaLit



by Charlie Vázquez


As the New York City coordinator for Puerto Rico’s Festival de la Palabra, I have the unique fortune of working with authors and poets from both sides of the bilingual Puerto Rican diaspora. Someone once asked me why I expend so much energy in doing so and my answer was: If you’re experiencing Puerto Rican culture in only one language, you’re seeing it with only one eye (try it). No depth of perception.

Eleanor Parker Sapia’s A Decent Woman is an English-language historical novel set in Ponce in the early 1900s, which follows the friendship between Serafina Martínez (a pretty teenager of higher station in life who marries into an affluent family), and Ana Belén, a black Cuban midwife who begins delivering Serafina’s babies when Serafina is just sixteen.

These two central point-of-view characters contrast stunningly to bring the institutionalized oppression of women on all levels of Puerto Rican society to focus. Something we are still contending with today.

For Ana, it’s the relentless street survival skills she must hone as a confidant to prostitutes, in an era where male doctors are pushing to replace midwives with often horrific results, and for Serafina it’s the humiliation and public shaming by her powerful philandering husband, Antonio San Patricio, who threatens to take everything away from her for confronting his infidelities. The friends provide support for one another and come in and out of one another’s lives as they transform as individuals.

Serafina and Ana’s friendship takes some dangerous twists and turns and I was seduced by Parker Sapia’s dense historical drama and edge-of-your-seat suspense. This feminist hallmark in Puerto Rican letters brought to mind Esmeralda Santiago’s sprawling Conquistadora at first (not a bad thing), but A Decent Woman is a world all its own, one which will shock and dazzle readers with fictional elements interwoven with history.

The complex web of interconnecting characters is well executed and springs many surprises and cultivates much intrigue, and although women are oppressed and relegated to “baby machines” in this world, the secret spiritual underworld of espiritismo (spiritualism) is where they’re able to compensate for the thievery of their civil rights and humanity. It’s when they’re among themselves that they convene with the spirit world, to foretell the future and seek guidance from ancestors.

On an editorial note, there are glitches in Spanish grammar, but they don’t minimize the telling of this well-constructed tale, and function to illustrate characters who are illiterate or with minimal education. This threw me off at first as an editor, but the frequency of it soon made this apparent.

This book will be particularly valuable to readers of #BoricuaLit who do not read in Spanish, since it exposes stunning historical details we’re rarely taught in the diaspora: the devastation brought on by Hurricane San Ciriaco, the introduction of telephones to the industrializing island colony’s infrastructure and the colorful formation of the mosaic of belief systems that combined to create Puerto Rican espiritismo.

Like Conquistadora, this is well-crafted and well-researched literature, and there are an increasing number of authors in Parker Sapia’s company that are publishing richly-textured novels of historical importance to the Puerto Rican people. These include Jonathan Marcantoni, author and CEO of Aignos Publishing, Manuel Meléndez the horror and suspense writer based in Queens, New York, and Theresa Varela, a playwright and novelist based in Brooklyn, New York.

The president of the Mystery Writers of America New York Chapter himself, author Richie Narváez, is a Brooklyn Boricua, and teaches crime and noir fiction writing (alternating with me) at the Poe Park Visitors Center through the Bronx Council on the Arts. Bronx-based author Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa published a tale about Afro-Puerto Rican women, which begins in 19th-century Puerto Rico, Daughters of the Stone, in 2009.

Charles Rice-González, Sofia Quintero, Torrey Maldonado…there are too many to list here…

This new crop of talented and diverse authors is enriching the canon of Puerto Rican fiction with books that need to be bought, read and taught. While the New York literary scene has orbited around the Nuyorican movement and the island around universities in the San Juan metropolitan area and elsewhere, Parker Sapia (West Virginia) and Marcantoni (Colorado) live nowhere near these population centers and are writing in places where we are fewer in number, as I did for years when I first started in Portland, Oregon in the mid-1990s.

















Miguel Algarín, founder of the Nuyorican Poets Café, and I discussing the future of #BoricuaLit

New York City is just one of many centers of the stateside Puerto Rican presence these days, the one that’s enjoyed the most notoriety and prestige for decades, but this is already changing. Eleanor Parker Sapia’s crucial debut is proof of this and I’m certain this isn’t the end of it. Others I know of are writing at this very moment, in and out of New York City, and their books will come.

So how would I classify A Decent Woman and the works of the other authors I’ve mentioned in regard to genre? Post-Nuyorican English-language Puerto Rican literature.

This is #BoricuaLit

Let the world know!


Erotica and Noir Short Story Workshops at La Casa Azul Bookstore!

Hello everybody!

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve written here, but that’s just because I’m writing everywhere else these days… Such as? I’ve had a story accepted for the upcoming San Juan Noir, by Akashic Books! Wuhú! And I’ve finished novel número tres and have some important folks reading it for final draft feedback…but more on that later. And other things…

Below is the info for the upcoming workshops at La Casa Azul Bookstore…I’m so excited about these!


For those of you who are “fictionalists” (or aspiring “fictionalists”) in New York City: I’ll be conducting three short story writing workshops, with an emphasis on the erotica and noir genres I’ve been published in, at La Casa Azul Bookstore in East Harlem. These will occur on July 10, 17, and 24, from 6pm-8pm. Individual sessions cost $20 but you’ll save $10 if you register for all three.

What we’ll be covering: structure, point of view, theme, dialogue, pacing and internal an external tension. It will be July after all, so come get hot with us! More soon…

Click below to register…(it’s at the bottom of the page that opens).

Click here to register through EventBrite

Documenting Our Oral Traditions Before They’re Gone


I’d just returned to New York from a trip to Puerto Rico in 2011, when my mother recounted a family tale to me that her paternal grandfather had told her many times when she was little, one that even I had heard throughout the years.

(Photo by Bella Vida Letty.)

I’d invented characters and worlds over the years as a fiction writer, and never thought that the stories that had first captured my mother’s imagination–which she’d retained with precise clarity–would serve as the basis for a new body of writing based on my family folklore. Breathtaking stories and images that have survived in the oral tradition.

And how many such stories went to their graves with their last carriers? How many such stories deserved to be documented, studied, shared and read? I decided to document the few that were available to me, mostly tales from early 20th-century Puerto Rico and the difficult lives of my ancestors. The generation that moved from the countryside near Corozal, Puerto Rico to El Barrio in Manhattan in the massive migrations of the 1940s.

“Tiempo Muerto”, a short story just published by Drunken Boat, a literary arts journal, was first told to me when I was an adolescent, and the gruesome imagery stayed with me ever since. But it wasn’t until 2012-2013, when I began writing a new cycle of Puerto Rican-flavored terror tales as exercises for my third novel (which is almost finished), that I understood the inherent power and value of my family history–something that has always been with me.

Each of us has family folklore and this is what make us unique, what connects us to the past. English-language Latino literature is a young art form, and if we take the Nuyorican/stateside Puerto Rican genre as an example of this, and attribute the first English-language writings to figures such as Jesús Colón in the 1950s, we can establish that this particular branch of contemporary literature is only about 65 years old.

In other words, about my parents’ age. So now’s the time to start cataloging our lives and sharing our imaginations and histories. And this doesn’t just apply to stateside Puerto Ricans, but to all of us in the Latin American diasporas. We need to tell our stories, because if yours are anything like mine, they’re fascinating.

Our literature is in its infancy. And this gives those of us who are contributing to its formation the freedom to tell our tales as we wish to tell them–on our terms. Poetry, for all its dazzling virtues and social discourse, cannot carry this weight on its own. Our literary canon is in need of narrative: memoir, folk tales, fiction.

Do you have a story to tell, and how will you tell it? What do we hope for people to read about us in the future? Our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren deserve to read about their own people, in a way that we weren’t able to.

Click here to read TIEMPO MUERTO

@CharlieVazquez is an author, one of the original Latino Rebels, and the director of the Bronx Writers Center.

Festival de la Palabra Returns to NYC!


Salón Literario Libroamérica, a not-for-profit organization that promotes reading and literary arts in Puerto Rico and the United States, announced the celebration of its third annual edition of  Festival de La Palabra (Written Word Festival) in New York.

The event will run from October 23rd thorough 26th, 2014, at El Museo del Barrio and the New York Public Library.  Events will include authors’ panels, readings, a book fair, and other functions for people of all ages. Admission is free.

“Festival de La Palabra” is a 4-day long literary conference.  Participating authors, educators and journalists from 21 Spanish-speaking countries, the United States and France, include Esmeralda Santiago (When I Was Puerto Rican, Almost a Woman, Conquistadora – Puerto Rico/EEUU), Sonia Manzano (The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano – EEUU), Pastor de Moya (Dominican Republic), José Manuel Fajardo and Rosa Montero (Spain), Alvaro Enrique, Rosa Beltrán and Carmen Boullosa (Mexico),Sylvia Molloy (Argentina), Daniel Shapiro (EEUU), Veronique Ovaldé and Paola Olaixarac (France), among others.

The 2014 edition is dedicated to Puerto Rican poet Julia de Burgos (1914-1953) in celebration of her centennial.


“Festival de La Palabra NY 2014”

(Written Word Festival)

Event Description:

Third Annual Edition in New York of the celebrated international literary conference originated in San Juan, Puerto Rico, featuring writers from the United States, Latin America, Spain and France.

Events Calendar:
Free Admission.  Some events require RSVP and/or tickets

Thursday, October 23rd

6:30 – 8:00 PM: Opening Ceremony and Special Presentation. “Life, Legacy and Centenary of Julia de Burgos”, a talk with Esmeralda Santiago and Consuelo Saez-Burgos.

(Place: El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio)

To Reserve Tickets Click Here 

8:30 – 10:00 PM: Welcome Reception.
(La Casa Azul Bookstore)

Reservation is required:
(Please write down date and hour of the event in this email)

Friday, October 24th

4:00 PM – 6:00 PM: Book fair.

(Main lobby in El Museo del Barrio)

5:00 PM – 6:00PM: Panel, “Exiles, Migrations and Literature”.  Panelists: Pastor de Moya, Yara Liceaga, Karla Suárez and Francisco Goldman.

(Black Box Theater, 3rd floor, El Museo del Barrio)

6:15 PM – 7:30 PM: Master Panel: “Por Qué/Why Julia?, Women in Latin American Literature”.  Panelists:  Myrna Nieves, Mayra Santos-Febres, Liliana Ramos Collado, Sandra García and Wilda Rodríguez.

(Black Box Theater, 3rd floor, El Museo del Barrio)

8:00 PM – 9:30 PM: Film Screening:  “200 Letters/200 Cartas” (starring Lin Manuel-Miranda, Jaime Camil, Dayanara Torres and Monica Steuer; with Luis Raúl, Iris Chacón and Juan Manuel Lebrón). Written and directed by Bruno Irizarry. 98 minutes.

(Black Box Theater, 3rd floor, El Museo del Barrio)

To Reserve Tickets Click Here. 


Festival de La Palabra in French

Friday, October 24th

6:30 PM – 7:30 PM: “Sous joins autre peau ” (Under another skin). A special panel in French with authors Véronique Ovaldé, Karla Suárez and José Manuel Fajardo. Co-presented by the French Alliance and the French Embassy in New York.

(Bookstore Albertine Books in French and English/Cultural Services of the French Embassy, 972 Fifth Avenue and 79 street.)

Saturday, October 25th

12:00 Noon – 5:00 PM: Panels / Book Presentations

(New York Public Library, Mid Manhattan Branch)

* 12:00 Noon – 1:00PM: Panel hosted by the America’s Society. Participating authors: Mayra Santos-Febres, Yara Liceaga, José Rabelo, Alejandro Álvarez and Carlos Vázquez-Cruz.  Moderador:  José Manuel Simián.

* 2:00 – 3:00 PM: “Spirituality in Caribbean Literature”. Panelists Marta Moreno-Vega and others TBA.

* 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM: “Rebellious and Damned: Lilith’s Daughters”. Featuring authors Liliana Ramos Collado, Véronique Ovaldé and Pola Olaixarac.

* 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM: “Digital publications and New Multimedia Platforms in English and Spanish”. Panelists: Wilda Rodríguez, Asdrúbal Hernández (Sudaquia Editores) and others TBA.

6:30 PM – 7:30 PM: Master Conference, “The writer and his/her ghosts”.  Noted author and journalist Rosa Montero (Spain) discusses the literary creative process.

(El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio)

7:30 PM – 9:00 PM: “Look Who’s Reading”, personalities and participating authors in “Festival de La Palabra NY 2014) get together for an evening of reading the poems of Julia de Burgos.  Featuring actress and author Sonia Manzano (The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano).

(El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio)

To Reserve Tickets Click Here. 
9:00 PM – 10:00 PM: Latin American Unity Reception.

(La Casa Azul Bookstore) Reservation is required:

(Please write down date and hour of the event in this email)

Sunday, October 26th

Children and Family Day

12:00 AM – 5:00 PM: Children’s/Family Book Fair.

(El Café at El Museo del Barrio)

12:00 AM – 2:00 PM: “Look Who’s Reading to the Kids”, children’s short story readings by noted personalities.  Featuring Luis Salgado (actor/director, Broadway’s In The Heights, Rocky; Founder of R.Evolución Latina), Manuel A. Morán (actor/director, founder of the Latino Children’s Theater of NY – Teatro SEA), Esperanza Ceballos (news reporter, Univision 41), Edwin Fontanez (Children’s Author).

(El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio)

To Reserve Tickets Click Here.

2:30 PM – 3:30 PM: Panel, “Cultivating Children’s Imagination Through Literature”, featuring José Rabelo, Carlos Vazquez Cruz and Willie Perdomo.

(El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio)

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM: Closing Event/”La Palabra Cantada” (Sung Word)/Musical Performance.

(El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio)
Festival Venues:

El Museo del Barrio / 1230 5th Ave at E. 104 St.

New York York Public Library Mid-Manhattan Branch /455 5th Ave at E. 40th St.

La Casa Azul Bookstore / 143 E. 103rd Street, at Lexington Avenue.

Albertine Books in French and English / 972 5th Ave at E. 79th  St.
Public Information:

Press Contacts:
Javier E. Gómez – (917) 533-1247 /

Michelle Vélez  – (347) 345-6758 /