An Interview with Charles Dee Mitchell of WordSpace

“Dallas has become known as a significant center for the visual and performing arts. WordSpace wants to provide the same visibility and enthusiasm for the written word.”

-Charles Dee Mitchell, WordSpace 

WordSpace is a non-profit literary organization that supports education and writers, connecting Dallas with the best of world literature. Founded in 1994, the organization hosts authors, readings, student workshops, concerts, and salons to promote established and emerging artists who use imaginative language in traditional and experimental forms. Through diverse, multi-cultural programs, WordSpace enhances the development of language artists of all ages, facilitates communication throughout the literary community, and contributes to expanding the Dallas literary scene to the widest possible audience. We spoke with Charles Dee Mitchell, board president, about WordSpace’s upcoming May events.

Scribe: Can you tell us more about WordSpace’s mission and the programs you offer in support of that mission?

Charles Dee Mitchell: WordSpace produces about 50 events per season. We feature readers both local and national. We feature authors just starting out and possibly giving their first public readings, as well as such well-known and respected local figures as David Searcey and Willard Spiegelman who have just published their latest books after turning seventy. By holding free events in bookstores, community centers, theaters, galleries, and private homes spread across the city, we are making a concentrated effort to get contemporary writing both new and established audiences. Dallas has become known as a significant center for the visual and performing arts. WordSpace wants to provide the same visibility and enthusiasm for the written word.

Scribe: WordSpace is hosting several events in Dallas in May at various venues. Can you tell us a little more about these events?

CDM: Douglas Kearney’s appearance at the South Dallas Cultural Center on May 25 concludes the third season African Diaspora: New Dialogues, our collaboration with the SDCC. This series has brought local, national, and international writers to Dallas. Season three included Jamaican novelist Nicole Dennis-Benn and poet Tyehimba Jess, who won the Pulitzer Prize a few days after his reading in Dallas. We plan to make Natalia Toledo Paz’s reading at the Latino Cultural Center the beginning of a new collaboration with the SDCC series. Ms. Toleday Paz is a distinguished Mexican poet, and this will be a unique trilingual event. Much of her verse is in Zapotec, and the peformance will include live Spanish translation and projected English super titles.

The Kessler Theater has hosted our Headliner Series since 2011. This series, one of our few ticketed programs, has featured such writers and performers  as John Waters, Nikki Giovanni, Sandra Berhnardt, and Laurie Anderson. Our first headliner was Dan Savage, and we felt that the time was right to bring him back to Dallas on May 11.

Scribe: Deep Ellum Lit Hop will be held in June and includes a packed lineup of individual hour-long showcases of literary talent. Can you tell us more about this event and how those interested can participate?

CDM: The first Deep Ellum Lit Hop took place in the summer of 2016 and attracted around 200 people for an afternoon and evening of poetry and music. By announcing this as the Second Annual Deep Ellum Lit Hop we are committing to making this a soon-to-be Dallas institution.  So far there are four Deep Ellum venues and twelve participating groups, but the event is still evolving. Checking out the Facebook event page is the best way to stay up to date on what’s happening, https://www.facebook.com/events/129649400912879/

Scribe: Here are the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?

CDM: Kathleen Kent’s The Dime is a debut crime novel set in Dallas, Weatherford, and a white supremacist compound in East Texas. It does not disappoint.

Thanks, Charles!

To find out more about WordSpace and May’s events, visit their website.

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