The purpose of the San Diego City College International Book Fair is to serve as a cultural nexus for the various communities of the city, provide a vital site for cultural exchange and growth, and to showcase literature, arts and music from both sides of the border.
Thus, the Fair promotes and provides a growing forum for local, national, and bi-national writers, artists, and musicians.
It thereby exposes diverse San Diego City College students and residents to the work of national and international authors and artists to provide insights into both local and international cultures and experiences.
History of the Project: Development of the San Diego Writers Collective and the City Works Press
For the past 19 years (since 1994), San Diego City College’s literary journal, City Works, has published poetry, fiction, prose, and artwork of City College students as well as works by local and national writers. In 2003, noting that San Diego did not have a local press dedicated to the publication of local writing, the editors of City Works set themselves the goal of creating one. They formed the San Diego Writers Collective, a group of City College faculty as well as writers and supporters from all around the San Diego region. The Collective’s mission is to promote innovative, progressive, ethnically diverse local writing. Their purpose is to publish the first chapbooks by talented student writers, and to publish novels, creative nonfiction and collections of short fiction and poetry by professional writers. The San Diego Writers Collective started working with the San Diego City College Foundation to raise funds to support its publications. Collective members contribute part of the funds and labor that go into each publication; the income from book sales goes toward the publication of subsequent books.
After receiving matching funds from the American Federation of Teachers (Local 1931) and support from City College’s radio station Jazz 88, in 2004 the San Diego Writers Collective was able to establish a local literary press, the City Works Press. It is committed to creating a literary culture in San Diego and to publishing the finest work of local writers. City Works Press is a nonprofit funded by local writers and fans of the arts, and committed to publishing a diverse range of San Diego’s emerging voices in fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and art. It does not receive any funding from City College.
Development of the San Diego City College International Book Fair
After several years of attending packed readings for the City Works Journal and other publications of the City Works Press, San Diego City College then President Terry Burgess suggested that the San Diego Writers Collective create an international book fair to showcase the work of local, regional, national, and international authors, artists and musicians. President Burgess supported this recommendation by creating the City College Literary Center and naming Dr. Jim Miller, a long-time editor of City Works, as its director. In this capacity, Dr. Miller coordinated the activities of the City Works Press and developed the San Diego City College International Book Fair. Held on a (rainy) day in October 2006, the first annual International Book Fair attracted over 2,500 people. As a sign of its growing popularity, the second annual International Book Fair gained the attention of over 3,200 attendees. In 2007, the attendance reached 6,000, nearly tripling the attendance since the fair’s inception.
Virginia Escalante, Professor of English, now serves as the project director. She has a master’s degree in communications from the University of California San Diego, where she is also earning a doctorate in the same field. A former journalist for The Los Angeles Times, she is a Pulitzer Prize recipient for her contributions to a series on “Southern California’s Latino Community,’ which received the award’s gold medal for meritorious public service in 1984.