Arte Público Press of the University of Houston is the oldest and most esteemed publisher of Hispanic authors in the U.S. Dedicated to publishing contemporary Hispanic literature, Arte Público also boasts a successful children’s book imprint, Piñata Books, and the Recovery Project, which aims to recover Latino writings that were lost from the colonial period to the 1960s. At their offices in Houston, Texas, I sat down with Dr. Nicolás Kanellos, founder and director of Arte Público Press.
Frances Riddle: How did Arte Público Press start out?
Nicolás Kanellos: I first founded and edited a literary magazine, the Revista Chicano-Riqueña for some eight, nine years. This came out of the Latino Civil Rights movement where I had worked with lots of writers who didn’t have any place to publish. We founded the magazine in 1972, and by 1979, we decided that we could publish books. First we published poetry books by Nuyorican [New York Puerto Rican] writers and then went on to prose. It’s called Arte Público because we were influenced by the public art movement, which meant we believed that there was art and culture in the community, and we wanted to take that art and format it and give it back to the community and make it known to everyone.