Hidalgo: Small press shapes ‘community of readers and writers’

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Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo leads the Adrian E. Cristobal Lecture at the Tanghalang Teresita Quirino in UST on Feb. 20. (Photo by Karl Ben Arlegui/The Varsitarian)

THOMASIAN veteran writer Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo said small press and bookstores are contemporary avenues that build a community of readers and writers in the country.

“The small press is often where people can exercise their artistic and political muscles more loosely because it often exists outside the market and does not behold them to fulfilling profit margins,” said Hidalgo during the Adrian E. Cristobal Lecture at the Tanghalang Teresita Quirino in UST last Feb. 20.

“It is also about the sense of community and, oddly, nostalgia for pre-digital age,” she added.

Hidalgo, the director of the UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies, noted that small book bars and cafes are “mushrooming in different corners.”

She cited Kwago, a small book bar in Makati, as an example of an inclusive private club for a community of readers and authors.

Hidalgo also said the small press and publishers that are known for “zine culture” provide writers “freedom from gatekeeping, commercialism and competition.”

The annual lecture is a tribute to the late writer and columnist Adrian Cristòbal for his contribution to public intellectualism.

Past lecturers include poet Gemino Abad (2011), National Artists for Literature Virgilio Almario (2012) and Resil Mojares (2013), Reynaldo Ileto (2014), Solita Collas-Monsod (2015), Marites Danguilan-Vitug (2016), Alfred Yuson (2017) and Soledad Reyes (2018).

The lecture was organized by the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas in collaboration with the University’s Department of Literature.

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