Viva Padilla is an accomplished poet, writer, and entrepreneur, whose prodigious talent has led to the inception of multiple creative endeavors, including a literary journal, book series, and bookstore and art gallery that serve as a platform for marginalized voices who are often omitted from the literary canons in the United States. A daughter of immigrants, with roots in Colima, Mexico, Viva was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, a place imbued with memories of both struggle and resilience. Growing up, daydreaming and reveling in the pages of encyclopedias became Viva’s escapism from a bustling household where solitude was a luxury.
Books have always offered solace for Viva, and in the pages of titles such as Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Dark Ghetto, and the memoir of Frederick Douglass she not only found healing, but also her calling to combat the elitism of the literary world. Viva considers it her responsibility to make literacy accessible and carry the torch of the many Chicano writers that have come before her. She has pursued her dreams relentlessly and through many struggles, in 2015, she launched Dryland, an independent bilingual literary journal, born in South Central. Dryland prioritizes the works of people of color, and in its seven-year run, over four hundred wordsmiths have had the opportunity to see their innermost thoughts cemented in history through print, many for the first time. Viva is also the founding editor in chief of Hombre Lobo, an intergenerational book series documenting paranormal/supernatural stories experienced by Xicanx.
Fiercely, Viva has fought to break the paradigms that oppress women and exclude people of color, by establishing herself as an accomplished writer and publisher in a heavily gated industry. This journey reinforced her commitment to creating safe physical and virtual spaces for communities that nurture creativity and encourage fledgling writers to pursue their passion. That is why in 2021 she seized the opportunity to open Re/Arte Centro Literario in Boyle Heights. Despite opening in the midst of the pandemic, Re/Arte offers a plethora of opportunities for literary engagement, be it through their lending library, writing workshops or regular FUTURE NOW virtual open mic nights. All programming is carefully crafted to fill the void that Viva herself experienced as a youth, wandering the streets of South Central in search of a place to belong. Viva will continue to manifest bigger things for the community and in the spirit of International Women’s Day, she urges women to liberate their minds, nurture their soul, and stay true to their spirit.