Attending the Dominican Writers Conference in NYC
I come from a big family of non-English speaking bodegueros (bodega owners) with no particular interest in the arts. Growing up, while my parents were supportive of my colorful imagination and creative expression, I don't think they have ever understood the wonderfully desperate need to create that fuels me.
Throughout my years, I've participated in many art exhibitions, recorded a music album, founded a graphic design business, and filled stacks of notebooks with poems, and ideas to be pursued when the inspiration strikes. In other words, I have always been an artist, but in some ways I have also always been the dreamer, the one with my head in the clouds, and dare I say it, the odd one in the family.
Being a creative person is a way of life that until recently I thought was mainly reserved for others, and in my experience, not so commonly for people like me; specifically Dominican people like me. In art school, at work, and in most of the social settings I find myself in, I tend to be the only minority, and that's just the way it's been for most of my life.
Until last week, I thought I was one of a kind. I felt like the only college-educated, bilingual, tree-hugging, artsy-fartsy, Dominican writer/artist around. Then last week I was fortunate to attend the first annual Dominican Writer's Conference in New York City, and realized I am very much not alone.
When I arrived I was overwhelmed by the amount of Dominicans faces. Faces of all shades, faces framed by curly hair, frizzy hair, straight hair, dreadlocks, and patterned head bands. I was among strangers and yet I felt a sense of familiarity unmatched by my usual circles.
Here in Connecticut nearly all my friends are white, so aside from being around my family, I am not accustomed to hearing my native tongue; and I'm not just referring to Spanish. I'm talking about Spanish layered with a Dominican accent and a specific type of humor. I felt at home.
I learned that there are lots of other Dominican art-lovers out there (somewhere in NYC), that do appreciate writing (in both English and Spanish), and that can relate to the passion for creating that I have always felt.
The conference encouraged me to pursue my writing, something I have always been too shy to do. As a result, I built this website and began this blog! The conference made me realize that the only thing holding me back from writing is me. I've been wanting to publish a poetry book for years, and for the first time, I feel equipped for making that dream a reality.