UCR Lecturer Rachelle Cruz has been appointed to a two-year term as Inlandia Literary Laureate, an award celebrating the literary excellence of the inland Southern California region. To be eligible, Inlandia Literary Laureates must live or work in Inland Southern California, write in a regional voice, work with diverse audiences, mentor emerging writers, foster creative literacy, and have a body of critically acclaimed published work. Past laureates include Nikia Chaney, Juan Delgado, Gayle Brandeis, and UCR professor Susan Straight.
Cruz, who teaches in the Department of Creative Writing, was recently awarded a 2018 American Book Award for her debut poetry collection “God’s Will for Monsters.” The collection, which explores the Filipino folklore and customs Cruz grew up with, was previously named the 2016 Hillary Gravendyk regional prize winner by Inlandia Institute, a Riverside-based literary center that supports literary activity in the Inland Empire.
Her newest book, “Experiencing Comics,” is an introductory guide to students showcasing work by comic creators from underrepresented backgrounds and providing a framework for a critical examination of the medium. Cruz is also the co-editor of “Kuwento: Lost Things, an anthology of Philippine Myths.”
“I’m thrilled to envision and curate literary programming and resources, with the help and input of community members, that reflect the literary needs and interests of the Inland Empire,” Cruz said in a release issued by Inlandia Institute. “I’m especially invested in bolstering voices of color, immigrants, queer writers and women in the area, and supporting communities that are underserved. The area is rich with poets, writers and readers of different genres, mediums and technologies, including comics, speculative fiction, history and more, and I’m excited to explore intersections and possible collaborations during my term.”
During her term, Cruz will work with the Inlandia board and staff to develop a custom slate of programs benefitting the local community.
“I view the role of Literary Laureate as one of service, community collaboration, creativity, innovation, and joy,” she said. “My aim is to support writers and readers who live in Inlandia, and to instigate curiosity and a sense of play for those who don’t quite identify as writers…yet.”