Kianny Antigua stumbled into writing while attending LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City in the early 2000s. The now Dartmouth College adjunct professor and author of “Caléndula” had intended to major in business administration, but her plans changed course. After taking a Spanish placement exam, she was enrolled in Spanish literature classes. In those courses, she said, she discovered Miguel de Cervantes’s “Don Quixote” and the works of authors like Gabriel García Márquez, Julio Cortázar and Elena Poniatowska.
Then, Antigua said, she started to write her own stories. Her first, she said, “was a bad story, but I showed it to my professor, and she said, ‘I see something here. Keep writing.’ I haven’t stopped since.”
Antigua, 39, who went on to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the City College of New York after LaGuardia, was the second Hispanic author whom the Freeport Memorial Library invited to read in recent weeks in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Last week, the library featured Puerto Rican journalist and author Cristy Marrero, and on Sunday it hosted a pan-Latino dance-style concert featuring Freeport’s own Los Amigos del Amargue (see story, page 9).
According to reference librarian Chris Bis-onette, Hispanic Freeporters are interested in taking part in more Spanish-centered events, and the library is making a concerted effort to provide patrons with more such programming.
“Latinos want the same opportunities that any other population” does, Bisonette said. “We try to reach the community through these programs.”
The library also holds a bimonthly Spanish Book Club, offers English as a Second Language classes and has held workshops on subjects from taxes to health and wellness.
During her presentation, Antigua shared with the audience her written works that included an extensive collection of children and adult books in Spanish and in English. A number of her books are used in the classrooms of Dominican Republic schools. She said she is thrilled that the books are read in the schools, but said being a writer outside of the Dominican Republic presents its challenges, because Spanish language writers aren’t necessarily considered for New York Times Best Seller lists. Publishing in Spanish in the Dominican Republic also has its challenges, because there are authors in the country who question her work because they consider her competition in a small market.
Antigua has been referred as a writer of the Dominican diaspora. She moved to the Bronx from the Dominican Republic at 17. She said her writing reflects stories from her country and conversations that she has overheard throughout the years and the inspiration behind “Caléndula” which was published in 2016.