Some of the state’s literary giants will be in El Paso this week to attend the Texas Institute of Letters four-day conference, held annually in a different Texas city.
Among the writers scheduled to attend are Carmen Tafolla, who has written more than 30 books and was named the Poet Laureate of Texas in 2015; Skip Hollandsworth, an executive editor and writer for Texas Monthly; and El Paso authors Benjamin Alire Sáenz and Sergio Troncoso.
Troncoso is the outgoing president of the Texas Institute of Letters, a nonprofit honor society founded in 1936 to celebrate Texas literature and recognize distinctive literary achievement.
The group’s festivities begin Wednesday with several readings by TIL members at local libraries.
A native El Pasoan and graduate of Ysleta High School, Troncoso spoke with El Paso Matters ahead of the conference. This email interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
El Paso Matters: What is the Texas Institute of Letters, who are its members and what is its primary mission?
Troncoso: The TIL’s elected membership consists of the state’s most respected writers– including winners of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, PEN/Faulkner Award, Man Booker Prize, Academy Award, International Latino Book Award, Americas Award, Lambda Literary Award, MacArthur Fellowship and Guggenheim Fellowship. There are about 200 active TIL members, and they come from every part of the state and live in Texas and outside of Texas. A writer must be nominated by two TIL members and voted on by the TIL Council and general membership before they are inducted into the TIL.
El Paso Matters: As your tenure as TIL president ends this weekend, what will you reflect on when asked to summarize your tenure?