Growing up a homesteader's son, in a land called Mindoro, unforgiving of its malarial airs and devastating droughts, NVM drew on literature and writing to claim and remake the landscape into a forgiving place of grace, blessings and spiritual bounty. Like the Mangyan, Mindoro's original inhabitants whose culture celebrates discovery and poetic imagination , NVM created clearings in every field of literature, genre, and themes by creating fictional habitats and individuals who imbue the the character of the land - always struggling, joyful of its rewards, and hopeful.
Literary expression through the act of writing becomes itself the practice of establishing presence in a world beset by many insecurities. It offers a place for gestating ideas and creating images that forge new visions of life.
Like the clearing of land, the planting and harvesting, writing is a skill that must be learned, mastered and practiced. In a global world of multiple and competing images, clarity of vision and expression is required.
NVM Gonzalez, in addition to his professorship at California State University, Hayward, taught at UCLA in the 1990s and was a University of California Regents Lecturer. He mentored many Filipino and Asian American students at UCLA and was also a contributing editorial board member of Amerasia Journal.
Michael Gonzalez is the youngest son of NVM and Narita Gonzalez, and worked at the Stanford University Libraries and lectured at City College San Francisco, Cal-State East Bay and U.C. Santa Cruz
About the Workshop
The NVM Gonzalez Writers' workshop in the United States aims to provide the venue to practice and master the tools of literary presence. It addresses in particular, but not limited to, the growing presence of Filipino-American writers in the American landscape. It hopes to provide ample and secure scaffolding to those who aspire to claim their "clearings" and invent and imagine new worlds to inhabit and make their presence felt.
The Workshop addresses and hopes to attract young, aspiring and even well-published writers willing to mentor others from the Filipino-American community, as well as other communities, although Filipinos living elsewhere are encouraged to join.
It hopes to foster greater and deeper appreciation of the works of present and past Philippine and Filipino-American literature, recognizing these works as expressive productions of a society and culture that is still in the process of defining its presence in the United States and in the world.
As a tool for capturing the expressions of life in the now diasporic world of the Filipino, good writing becomes essential to articulate, to explore, and to share these new worlds and vocabularies that many Filipinos now inhabit, from Hong Kong, the Middle East, Western Europe and the United States. " There is not a place in the world, including Antarctica where a Filipino cannot be found." It will be through literature that these global ties can be bound.
Future Plans and Goals
International writers' workshops to include writers from the Philippines and other world literature authors are planned. The aim is to foster stronger collaborative projects and critical perspectives. Rather than paint both regions as unique literary environments, imagine that both exist in a global interconnected sense. The NVM Writers' Workshop is both a coming home and a going home for all writers-participants.
Workshop highlights (2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015)