UCR Lecturer Rachelle Cruz named 5th Inlandia Literary Laureate
On November 16, 2018, Inlandia Institute’s board of directors ratified the appointment of UCR Lecturer Rachelle Cruz to the position of Inlandia Literary Laureate for a two-year term. Cruz follows past Literary Laureates Nikia Chaney, Juan Delgado, Gayle Brandeis, and Susan Straight.
Linda Sherman Nurick, owner of Cellar Door Books, nominated Rachelle because she “is on a mission to highlight the incredible accomplishments of people of color, queer, and other underrepresented artists to the literary community.”
Rachelle’s Hillary Gravendyk Prize-winning debut poetry collection, God’s Will for Monsters, was recognized by the Before Columbus Foundation with a 2018 American Book Award. Her newest book, Experiencing Comics, is a textbook for high school and college educators looking to bring comics into the classroom, especially work by writers and artists of color and underrepresented communities. She is also the co-editor, with Melissa Sipin, Kuwento: Lost Things, an anthology of Phillippine Myths. She has received fellowships from VONA, Emerging Voices, and Kunidiman.
On accepting the appointment, Rachelle Cruz says, “I’m excited to envision and curate literary programming and resources, with the help and input of community members, that reflect the literary needs and interests of the Inland Empire. I’m especially invested in bolstering voices of color, immigrants, queer writers and women in the area, and supporting communities that are underserved. The area is rich with poets, writers and readers of different genres and mediums, including comics, speculative fiction, history and more, and I’m interested in exploring these exciting intersections and possible collaborations during the term of my laureateship.”
Rachelle is a champion of accessibility for all regardless of barriers, including spearheading a GoFundMe campaign when it became clear that cost was preventing participation in her “Writing is a Superpower” workshop at Cellar Door Books for kids ages 11-17. “Rachelle is that person who not only has ideas that break the old boxes but is happy to work hard to implement those ideas,” Linda says.
Inlandia Literary Laureates serve a two-year term and receive a $5000 honorarium. Rachelle will work with Inlandia board and staff to craft a custom slate of programs. Past Laureate projects have resulted in an adopt-a-school program, publications, distribution of free books to needy children, and projects like outgoing Laureate Nikia Chaney’s CalHumanities-funded Voices Against Violence.
The Inlandia Institute is a regionally-focused literary nonprofit and publishing house, home to Inlandia Books and the Hillary Gravendyk Prize for poetry. For more information, please visit www.inlandiaiainstitute.org.