Santa Ana’s First Literature Festival Promotes Local Stories in Downtown this Weekend

Laura Garcia / el Don

Laura Garcia / el Don

Venues all across downtown Santa Ana will host free sessions of spoken word, improvisation, read-alouds and more for its first Boca de Oro Art & Lit Fringe Festival in downtown Santa Ana this Saturday.

From 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., panels will promote the art and literature of Orange County residents while encouraging a deeper connection between art and education. The festival will also be held alongside the monthly downtown art walk.

Madeleine Spencer, the organizer behind the Boca de Oro festivals, is a Santa Ana resident, who earned her bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy at Chapman University before working in the downtown Santa Ana business district as a consultant.  Spencer was inspired to organize the festival in Santa Ana after observing the misconceptions behind Santa Ana’s inner city stigmas, as well as the success of other literature festivals in Southern California.

“What is funny is when people start to really be able to read text and interpret the text to the world through their art and through their writing.  This is how we become educated as a culture,” Spencer said.

60 different migration stories will be displayed on the walls alongside a continuous read-aloud of migration stories organized by Dean of Fine and Performing Arts at Santa Ana College, Eve Kikawa. Kikawa is also an organizer for the “Memories of Migration” panel at Boca de Oro, combining the efforts of Santa Ana College and the Santa Ana Library.

“It is very easy to go, I cannot be a singer because I’m not Lady Gaga. I cannot be a writer because I’m not my favorite author, but there are all sort of amazing art from people who self-publish their own books, who create their own graphic novels, who do all sorts of things,” said Kikawa.

Other panels that guests can expect include “Incarceration,” which investigates first-hand experiences with incarcerated individuals from Orange County and the effort to assist those detained in finding a life outside. “Herstory” will discuss the untold history and stories of women throughout history through discussing literature. “Another Future is Possible” will include activities such as writing letters to future selves for a time capsule, as well as science-fiction readings and discussion.

Children can expect a variety of activities available, from the art of spoken word through “Words Unleashed,” a series of workshops hosted by the youth organization Triple Threat Mentoring, to book-making workshops and student improvisation performances.  Parents can also bring their younger children to “Literature and Story Time,” where authors will be incorporating engaging art and storytelling.

Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Perla Batalla will also host a special concert to honor Leonard Cohen, singing his songs in English and Spanish at the Church of the Messiah at 10 p.m.  Tickets run from $10 to $18 and are available online.

With a wide selection of events available for everyone, the spirit of promoting art and literature is stirring in Orange County.

“There are all sorts of rich art going on at all different levels, and that is why it is important to go to community events,” Kikawa said. “You see the arts that are alive and living in your community. You can see it right in your own backyard.”