The Editor in Chief of Eñe magazine, Karla Romero also happens to be my longtime, close friend. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month and admittedly to find out more about her work, we recently met at the Tick Tock Lounge to discuss her publication -- the first Spanish-language monthly of its kind in Indianapolis.
Romero was born and raised in Madrid, Spain, and spent half her youth in Olympia, Washington, and her teenage years in Mooresville, Indiana. After completing her education in journalism, the I.U. grad moved back to Spain, where she completed her Masters in Communications and founded the bilingual arts publication Humanize Magazine.
The magazine soon grew in popularity when it featured interviews from famous artists such as The Zombies, M. Ward from She and Him and Andrew Bird.
While visiting family back home in Indiana, Romero shared some of Indianapolis’ local bands and artists with an international audience. Before long, people all over the world were reading about the Accordions, Bonesetters, short stories by Samantha Atkins (now the editor of The Sycamore), as well as some illustrations and poems by yours truly.
Since her return to Indy, the bilingual writer, editor and publisher has been part of the curation efforts of iMOCA, notably for one of iMOCA’s most talked about shows of 2013, In The Name Of Love by artists Slava Mogutin and Brian Kenny.
Recently Romero has been a writer in residence for the Spark Monument Circle project with Big Car, and she started Eñe with Maria Wildridge the Latino services coordinator for the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office (not coincidently, Wildridge is Romero’s mother).
For more on Romero’s efforts with her free monthly publication Eñe, here’s our discussion:
Jennifer Delgadillo: So what’s the purpose of Eñe – your goals for this magazine?
Karla D. Romero: The main objective is just to inform, educate and entertain Spanish-speaking people and bilinguals of Indianapolis. We have this ‘image’ that’s not an image of ourselves that is actually true, as opposed to a stereotype that has been created in the city. It is all related to that. We are also trying to take care of our aesthetic to show that we care about our readers.
JD:Tell me about the cover. What’s with the same cover but in a different color?
KDJR: At first it started as just an introduction with the minimal skyline illustration. People loved it. People were like, “Oh, so is next month going to be white?” And we thought, that's a great idea! So we did another month. People talked about the colors and we stuck to it, we may or may not change it. We are going to do 12 issues with the colors and then decide if we are going to change it. It is also a great way for people to remember Eñe.
JD: I notice that a lot of your articles are personal profiles and Q&A format. It seems almost as if you’re documenting Latino life in town.
KDJR: That’s a really nice way to put it. I mean, yeah that’s what we are doing in a way. Sometimes it will be for a reason, because someone is presenting something; like once I interviewed a lady from the Psychology department at IUPUI who is Latina because she was putting together a program, but sometimes it’s random people we meet.
You have to remember that a lot of people who are reading our publication probably have never heard of these people. I think there is a huge gap between what Latinos think they can achieve while living in this city (as youth in high school), with what they can actually do. And I never realized this.
The kids that I’ve talked to and met -- it is exciting for them to learn about people who’ve probably been through something similar. They are seeing this name that they can relate to as Latinos and thinking “that could be me!”
I know it sounds very optimistic and borderline utopic, but Eñe is not complicated. We are not trying to solve the Latino Watergate of Indianapolis. When the scandal comes we will cover it, but I like to think about the kids. It feels so good … better than any paycheck. … to know that students like reading our magazine. That the people who are reading it are getting better information.
JD: You also cover a good amount of pieces that aren’t specific to Latinos, such as local businesses and restaurants or First Friday. What is the point of doing that?
KDJR: It’s for people who don’t leave the Latino community very often. Kind of a sneak peek into the rest of the city and what it has to offer. Because it’s just as much for the Spanish-speaking community, bilingual community -- all the communities that encompass Eñe.
We are saying, “Hey, you could be doing this too!” Like when we covered Feast of Lanterns, I had not been there in a couple years, and when I was there, I saw very few Latinos. So that’s why: so people know what is going on.
JD: I feel like I miss out a lot within the Latino culture, like today I just found out Radio Latina has a huge concert with Los Huracanes del Norte and Conjunto Primavera.
KDJR: Yeah, that’s something that’s also really hard for those of us who are in a limbo place, where we are between and not deep in either culture. We miss a lot of that.
JD: How did you get Dr. Javier Sevilla (the Director of Hispanic/Latino Health and International Medicine and the newly appointed President of the Indiana chapter for the National Alliance for Hispanic Health) to contribute to Eñe?
KDJR: I met him several times, and every time I saw him at different events for the magazine. I think it was at a Conexión! breakfast for the The Indy Chamber's Hispanic Business Council (HBC), which Eñe is a part of. He said he really loved the magazine, and I think he also saw this as an opportunity to put his voice out there.
He is so nice -- he is a very important doctor, not just for our community but in general. He is a gem in our city for sure.
JD: What is one thing you’ve accomplished with Eñe that you are the most proud of at the moment?
KDJR: Up until literally now, I didn’t think we were at a point where I could feel proud about one thing in particular. But you said this extremely insightful and kind thing about Eñe (that I honestly wish I had thought of myself!). You said, in so much more eloquently, but that: Each issue of Eñe is documenting Latino culture in Indianapolis. Honestly, that has been my proudest moment. Thank you!Eñe is free and can be picked up at schools, universities, libraries and at Indy Reads on Mass Ave. The next issue comes out tomorrow (Oct. 1st).