East county voices

Amanda Rhoades

The Seventh Annual San Diego City College International Book Fair hosted a panel discussion featuring local writers who have contributed to an upcoming book on their lives and experiences in East San Diego County on Oct. 3.

“The great irony in me moving away to New York City at 18 to be a writer is that for the next three years at NYU, all I wrote about was East County, whether I knew it or not,” said Justin Hudnall, executive director of So Say We All, a San Diego-based non-profit arts and literature collective.

Though it was not his intention, Hudnall says that all of the factors in his stories and plays in college were based on his interpretation of the world, which up until those years had mostly come from growing up in San Diego’s East County.

After graduating, Hudnall returned to San Diego in 2008 and created So Say We All, which happened to draw a great deal of artists from the region.

Mindy Solis, a contributing writer and Grossmont Community College student, had the idea to put together a zine of East County-themed works. The project escalated into a much larger collection than they had anticipated. After receiving a grant from the San Diego Foundation, they were able to put together “The Far East Movement: Everything Just As It Is,” an anthology of no-nfiction and poetry from East County.

The first book, launching this month, attempts to provide readers who have never experienced East County with a myriad of perspectives from many different walks of life.

Panelist Corrine Goria, an East County native who has worked on the McSweeney’s Books oral history series “Voice of Witness,” helped edit “The Far East Movement.” She explained the process of breaking down stereotypes by asking interviewees textured questions to help the reader empathize with the subject rather than adhering to a journalistic style.

Local poet and “The Far East Movement” contributor Ron Salisbury said that when writing about stereotypes, he writes from the inside of it, as the embarrassed narrator.

“There is no way to divorce the control and the vision of the editor. We may not change pieces of work but we reject what work that doesn’t fit where we’re going, and that is the voice of the editor. . .One way I get around that in my work is to have people in my poems speak. Its amazing how that frees up the author to say things,” said Salisbury.

These storytellers also serve another role, and that is to dig up information that otherwise would have been left out.

One example of this Goria gave was her time spent in China interviewing Foxconn workers about its recent surge in suicides. She said often in a first interview people would say things weren’t that bad, but in later interviews deeper stories would come out.

So Say We All is continuing to accept East County-related work online at sosayweallonline.com.

Grossmont College will host a reading of “The Far East Movement: Everything Just As It Is” at its 3rd Annual Lester Bangs Memorial on Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. in room 220.