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Arts & Culture

Books abound inside SWU's Librotraficante-founded library

Photo: Greg Harman, License: N/A

Greg Harman

The shelves at SWU's Underground Library are organized by first edition, signed, fiction, poetry, and banned. Underground Librarian Diana Lopez said that recognized local writers like Sandra Cisneros and Dagoberto Gilb have contributed works to the effort. SA Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla even donated multiple copies of her book of poetry, Curandera, republished with "Banned in Arizona" on the cover.

Diana Lopez, who will be directing the Underground Library, sees the venue as "a space of truth," one where people can come in and learn the facts about their heritage and feel safe. "Not many libraries are based around social justice," says Lopez, who says she was shocked that the majority of people she encountered in Arizona did not even know their state had yanked the books from the classroom when she first got involved with Librotraficante.

San Antonio's Underground Library erupts into operation this Thursday, May 10, with a reading from Gustavo Arellano, the much-syndicated Ask a Mexican columnist, who has just written a subversively salivating book called Taco USA (see review "Time of Mex-Tex"). On Arizona's recent legislative policies, the author, who is a great fan of Librotraficante, says: "Those idiot politicians thought that Mexicans and their allies would just allow them to strip the libraries and classrooms of such books; instead, it created the opposite effect. Sure, Arizona law has now pushed Latino literature to the back of the burro, but now you have a vibrant movement of people pushing and reading these books, and authors more than willing to engage in such actions to promote literature. To use that terrible but so apropos cliche, the sleeping Mexican has woken up." •

Gustavo Arellano reading and book signing

6-8pm Thu, May 10
Southwest Workers Union Underground Library
1412 E Commerce
(210) 299-2666

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