University of Houston Professor Nicolás Kanellos directs Arte Público Press (APP), which is celebrating its 35th anniversary. It began as a grassroots effort with a literary journal called “Revista Chicano-Riquena” distributed at festivals and picket lines.
“So our roots were firmly established in the civil rights movement and the need for us to recover our culture and to promote it and make it accessible,” Kanellos said. “During the ‘70s, we issued special issues of the magazine. We thought, if we can make these special issues, we can publish books. So in ‘79 we started Arte Público Press.”
Today, more than 600 books have been published by Arte Público Press. Additionally, the press has expanded to include Piñata Books, for children and young adults, and The Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage project to find, preserve and disseminate Latino authors from colonial times to 1960.
“Our books are translated into Serbian and Chinese and Hindi and all the European languages,” he said.
Writers who were first published by Arte Público Press are well known to readers. Those authors include Victor Villaseñor, who wrote “Rain of Gold,” and Sandra Cisneros who wrote “House on Mango Street.”
An exhibit on view at the UH main library celebrates these authors and the influence of Arte Público Press.
“Part of our mission has always been to open a space for Latino literature in the United States, in English and Spanish.”
Arte Público Press is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston. I’m Marisa Ramirez.