Arte Público Press celebrates Hispanic culture and literature legacy
This year marks the 35th anniversary of UH-based Arte Público Press, the oldest Latino publisher in the country.
APP began as a literary magazine that published books primarily used in university classrooms in the 1970s in the midst of civil rights movement. Today, it is the nation’s largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by U.S. Hispanic authors.
Nicolás Kanellos, director of APP and UH Brown Foundation professor of Hispanic studies, said because Latin literature is bilingual, it is often difficult for writers to find a publisher in today’s market who can publish in English and Spanish.
“APP must continue its dual function of providing literature for 50 million Latinos in both languages and promote books and authors that can’t make the bridge into mainstream publishing,” Kanellos said.
Today APP often competes with large multinational corporations that are part of the entertainment complex. The publisher has also expanded its horizon to publish books for children and young adults under its imprint entitled Piñata Book.
“It is important that Latinos see themselves in books, for children in particular, and it is just as important for non-Latino kids to be exposed to cultures other than their own,” said Marina Tristán, APP director and marketing manager.
APP also publishes civil rights literature from a Latino perspective, which are a part of the Hispanic Civil Rights Series.
Arte Público Press has focused on its Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project, an international project that locates and preserves Hispanic culture of America dating back to colonial times.
“This material help to reshape the culture and erase pre-conceptions related to our presence and our contributions to American Literature,” said Carolina Villarroel, recovery project director of research.
The thousands of historical records that the Recovery Project locates are made accessible to universities and libraries all over the world.
Although stationed off campus at Energy Research Park, students and faculty are welcome to visit the Recovery Project databases to research and work directly with APP’s collections of historical materials.
“Our Recovery Project is in the vanguard of creating new knowledge for education around the world,” Kanellos said.
APP has significantly grown in size and opportunity since its beginnings in 1979 and continues to play an important role as a broker of Latino literary culture. APP books have won awards, such as the PEN Award and the Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award.
“We will continue to push for this literature to be available and to be published, so it can be acknowledged as an important part of the American literature and culture,” Villarroel said.