Escribe Aquí: The Betsy–South Beach welcomes artists, celebrates cultural diversity

The Betsy - South Beach

The Betsy-South Beach was named by CNN as one of the world’s great literary arts hotels. It is renowned not only for its fabulous ocean views, multiple amenities, serene atmosphere and world-class cuisine, but also because of its continual support for art and culture.

The Writer’s Room at The Betsy hosts authors, artists and thought leaders from all over the country year round. Amy Tan, Elena Medel, Mia Leonin and Jimmy Santiago Baca are among previous residents.

The hotel is now hosting and sponsoring, in partnership with Books and Books and SubUrbano Ediciones, Miami’s first all Iberoamerican literature festival, the only one of its kind in the Southeast. It will be held on March 28th and 29th and all the events will be free and open to the public.

“World-renowned authors from across the United States, working and teaching in major universities across the country, will gather in Miami for this exciting literary event,” said Pablo Cartaya, Manager of Literary Programs & Community Outreach at The Betsy – South Beach.

The organizers

Pedro Medina Leon is a writer and publisher with extensive experience in both literature and cultural promotion. He is the author of “Streets de Miami,” “Mañana no te veré en Miami” and “Lado B,” and the editor of “Viaje One Way.”  He is also the founder and director of SubUrbano Magazine and SubUrbano Ediciones and has organized several cultural events in Miami.

Medina Leon teamed up with Cartaya to put together the event.

“I had thought of organizing Escribe Aqui for many years, but it was only recently that I got the support I needed,” says Medina Leon. “I talked to different people and made a number of proposals until The Betsy got involved, for which I am very grateful.”

Medina persevered despite the obstacles because he firmly believes there is a need in Miami for this kind of events.

“In the first place, Iberoamerican literature has great potential in the United States and we have to provide a space for it,” he says. “Secondly, Miami is the capital city for Hispanics in this country. So much writing, so much art here…it just needed Escribe Aqui!”

The evolution of Escribe Aqui 2015

“Like so many things at The Betsy, the idea of Escribe Aqui was founded on a partnership and a residency,” Cartaya said. “Pedro came to The Betsy through our Writers Room program where he stayed in our traditional weeklong residencies to work and be inspired by the room, the energy, and as he often quips, the best coffee in Miami.’ As manager of literary programs and local writer myself, I have the good fortune to have “coffee talks” with many of our visiting writers in residence. Pedro and I hit it off immediately and the seeds of the partnership were born on a warm South Beach morning in May 2014.”

The first Escribe Aqui reading was held June 27th  at The Betsy with a fully bilingual event that featured eight writers hailing from Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Peru, Venezuela, Argentina, and Colombia.

“At least three languages were spoken that first incredible Escribe Aqui,” said Cartaya. “We had music, cocktails and wonderful literature.”

The Betsy continued with two more such events. One featured the diverse faculty at the University of Miami and a special writing workshop with exiled writer Israel Centeno.

“Pedro continued to do his great work in the space with wonderful programs around Miami and just as 2014 made way to 2015, we got together and thought how great it would be to have a culminating celebration of this inaugural program,” Cartaya said. “But ideas need support and I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the incredible support Betsy owners, Jonathan Plutzik and his sister, Deborah Plutzik Briggs gave to this endeavor. Their commitment and vision drive the hotel’s PACE (Philanthropy, Arts, Culture and Education) model to bring all communities together under the auspices of their incredible four star-four diamond property. They are the real deal in their championing of culture and literature of all kinds. And I might add, their late father, the poet Hyam Plutzik’s poetry ( hyamplutzikpoetry.com) inspires so much at The Betsy. Instead of chocolates at turn down, guests get poems on their pillows. How amazing is that!”

The 2015 Escribe Aqui authors

Among the participating authors are Anjanette Delgado (Puerto Rico), Brenda Lozano (Mexico), Camilo Pino (Venezuela), Carlos Gamez Perez (Spain), Edmundo Paz Soldan (Bolivia), Giovanna Rivero (Bolivia), Hernán Vera Alvarez (Argentina ), Marina Perezagua (Spain), Rodolfo Pérez Valero (Cuba), Luis Salvador (Peru), Manuel López (Cuba), and Yosie Crespo (Cuba).

Manuel Lopez, whose book Los poetas nunca pecan demasiado was awarded the Gold Medal in the Spanish Language Category at the Florida Book Awards 2013, will be reading poems from his unpublished poetry book El hombre incompleto.

“I am happy to participate in this first Escribe Aqui Festival,” said Lopez. “I happen to like Pedro Medina very much, because he is always busy creating, working on something new. I can identify with that, and I can sympathize with such efforts. I am looking forward to the event, and to meeting all the other writers I haven’t met.”

The festival

The festival will begin the evening of March 28th in The Betsy’s underground speakeasy, B Bar, and will continue through March 29th with a series of panels, readings, and a Spanish poetry slam.

There will also be music and dance, and a special presentation by the Peter London Dance Company.

“Peter London, a choreographer and former principal dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company, will premiere a new work as part of the festival,” Cartaya said. “He has contemporary choreography and some traditional music from Spain, Cuba, Peru, Mexico and Argentina and he is now adding Puerto Rico.”

“We are also providing a venue for publishers and magazines to show their work to the public,” said Medina Leon. “There will be a bit of everything, un poco de todo. If you attend Escribe Aqui, you will leave with a very accurate idea about the literary scene of Iberoamerican literature, both in their countries of origin and here in the United States.”

“So here we are—on the verge of something truly wonderful,” Cartaya said. “We have been brought together from a family’s vision, a natural partnership between two individuals, and the hope that Escribe Aqui 2015 has many more years ahead of it to celebrate Iberoamerican literature and culture at The Betsy Hotel, in Miami and throughout the country. Like every great story, it has many, many layers to build upon its foundation.”

The organizers will provide translating and interpreting services to English-only attendees.

“It will be an all inclusive event,” Medina Leon said.

A Betsy roof top “Paella Party” (also free and open to the public) will be the final touch in this celebration of the diversity and contributions made by Spanish-speaking and Spanish-writing authors.

To find out more about the event visit

http://www.betsywritersroom.com

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