Excerpt from an article published by Knight Arts, June 8, 2015 by Neil de la Flor
VONA/Voices at the University of Miami: The University of Miami is doing its part to impact the community by hosting VONA/Voices this month. The Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation is the only multi-genre writing conference in the nation that caters specifically to writers of color.
“Our program is situated at the gateway of the Caribbean and Latin America, and we understand the potential we have to develop a global way of reading and writing contemporary literature. A partnership between the University of Miami’s MFA in Creative Writing and VONA presents all kinds of opportunities to explore our shared vision,” said M. Evelina Galang, fiction workshop leader and director of Creative Writing program at the University of Miami.
For two weeks this summer, June 21st–July 4th, some of the nation’s leading writers will lead workshops in poetry, fiction, LGBTQ writing, memoir, playwriting and politics. Some of today’s best known writers of color will lead the workshops, including Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz, Cuban poet Achy Obejas, poet Willie Perdomo and Chitra Divakaruni.
VONA isn’t just about famous faces teaching faceless students. VONA seeks to reveal and unleash the inherent creativity of our emerging literary community. “VONA/Voices aims to give emerging writers of color who would not otherwise have [this] a safe space to explore and develop their craft,” said Galang. “It seems natural that the only multi-genre workshop for writers of color would find a home at the University of Miami, where there are more than 146 nations represented in its student body.”
VONA/Voices, just like many of the Knight-funded projects, reaches out to traditionally marginalized communities whose voices have been often left out of the dominant culture. VONA ensures those voices and diverse perspectives are heard. “VONA in Miami is a gift to all of us, and everyone benefits,” Galang concludes.