New L.A. book festival LitLit announces talks by poets Yesika Salgado, Vickie Vertiz and more

(Elon Schoenholz / Hauser & Wirth)

The Los Angeles Review of Books and Hauser & Wirth Publishers announced the panelists who will discuss literature, art and activism at LitLit, the Little Literary Fair, which will debut this weekend in L.A.'s Downtown Arts District. The city’s newest book festival, to be held at the Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles arts complex, will host four panels on July 20 and 21 as part of its programming, which will also include more than 20 exhibitors from L.A. and other cities on the West Coast.

On July 20 at 11 a.m., publishers and artists will discuss “what makes an art book,” festival organizers said in a news release. Panelists will include Dagny Corcoran, the founding proprietor of Art Catalogues; X Artists’ Books co-founder Alexandra Grant; L.A. artist Paul McCarthy; and Michaela Unterdörfer, the director of publications of Hauser & Wirth Publishers. L.A.-based X Artists’ Books was founded in 2017 by Grant, herself an artist, along with graphic designer Jessica Fleischmann and actor Keanu Reeves. Grant discussed the publishing project with The Times shortly after its establishment, saying, “In a way you’re making a proposition with an artists’ book, which is: I might surprise you, I might delight you, I might confuse you.”

Writers and publishers will discuss activism and publishing in a panel at 1 p.m. July 20. Participants will include Tsehai Publishers founder Elias Wondimu; Tobias Tubbs and Bidhan Chandra Roy of Words Uncaged; and Jessica M. Wilson Cárdenas, the coordinator of Tia Chucha Press. Tia Chucha Press is the publishing wing of Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural, the cultural center, performance space and bookstore in Sylmar. The center has hosted authors such as Sandra Cisneros, and its customers have included musician Bruce Springsteen and actor Cheech Marin. In 2011, Tia Chucha’s co-founder Luis J. Rodriguez told the Times that the cultural center is meant to serve all Southern Californians, regardless of their background or ethnicity. “People think this is just a Chicano/Latino center, but we embrace everybody,” he said.

Tia Chucha Press has published authors such as Louie Pérez (of the band Los Lobos), Mayda del Valle, Melvin Dixon and Kyoko Mori. Later that day, at 4 p.m, novelists Melissa Broder and Alissa Nutting will discuss absurdity and humor in writing. Broder, who lives in L.A., is the author of the novel “The Pisces”; Nutting’s latest novel, “Made for Love,” is being adapted into a television series for the as-yet-unlaunched WarnerMedia streaming service.

The fair’s final panel will be held at 4 p.m. on July 21, and will feature a discussion about Latinx poetry with Yesika Salgado and Vickie Vértiz. Vértiz, a lecturer at Otis College of Art and Design, is a native of Bell Gardens; Salgado is a slam poet and co-founder of the Latina feminist collective Chingona Fire. Vértiz is the author of the poetry collection “Palm Frond With Its Throat Cut,” which won a 2018 PEN America literary prize. In a review for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Isabel Gómez said the poems in the collection “challenge readers to follow complex shifts between voices that jump over lines broken and spaced across the page, code-switching between myriad registers of English and Spanish.”


“Vértiz aims not for celebration but for its very cause through poems that center the realities of Los Ángeles Latinx communities and their multilingual operations,” Gómez wrote. In April, Salgado discussed her work in an interview for The Times. “I want my work to be in unconventional places,” she said. “You write in poetry journals to get fellowships and grants, not for an audience. My readers don’t read journals — they are homegirls that normally wouldn’t be interested in poetry or they’ve always read poetry and find me.”

LitLit will be free and open to the public, and will feature exhibitors including Artbook, Harvard Square Editions, Kaya Press, Red Hen Press and the Los Angeles Public Library.