Given the heat of presidential primaries, the word “immigration” is in the air these days. It’s attached to candidates’ views on safety, jobs, education, and more. It brings voters together and just as strongly divides them. You can become so used to hearing this word on politics podcasts and reading it in newspapers that it can become abstract.
You might forget that this is an issue about people, many of whom already live in this country. That was the impetus for this year's Ideas event “Writing Home: Narratives of Place and Displacement in the Americas.” I knew that I wanted to focus on the issue of immigration in this election year in particular, but I wanted to think about how the fractious issues of displacement and home between North, South, and Central America could be discussed creatively rather than in political or economic terms. We had Antonio Aiello at an Ideas event last year, and I knew he and his organization PEN American Center would be the ones to turn to for this.
We’ve commissioned three pieces about “home” from three Latin Americans from different places who now live in the U.S. and I won’t hear them until you do. I’m eager to be surprised – and excited and perplexed and challenged – by what these different writers offer, which will move us all beyond the 24-hour news cycle and stump speeches.
- Alex Ripp, Ideas Program Manager