MEET THE ARTBURST WRITERS: JUAN CARLOS PEREZ-DUTHIE
Puerto Rican-born Juan Carlos Perez-Duthie came to South Florida from New York after completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications at Fordham University. “I had no clue how long I would stay but my parents had purchased a house in Broward so I moved there,” he remembers.
He headed directly for the Miami Herald, where he began as a translator in 1988.
No matter what his work, he was ecstatic to be part of a major newspaper, never imagining what would happen to the industry later on. After two years at the English-language Herald, where he copyedited, wrote reviews, and did a few interviews, he realized he wanted to write more. The first writer opening that came up was in El Nuevo Herald. From there he segued into more features, covering areas that were of particular interest to him, ones that reminded him of his years in New York and San Juan where he had grown up or that came to life right in his own SoBe neighborhood.
Looking back over his long writing career, some topics and stories jump out to Perez Duthie. He loved covering South Beach’s gay transformation, when few media were paying attention; there was an interview in Cuba with an elderly and renowned poet who rarely left her house and who was “protected” by the government; and then those about the careers of old divas like Yma Sumac.
Following stints at the Herald papers, he won a fellowship with the InterAmerican Press Association, went to Puerto Rico in 1998, and joined the El Nuevo Día daily, the island’s largest and most important newspaper. He then returned to Miami as their correspondent, and took on freelancing assignments as well, such as with the Univisión TV network and the Sony Latin music record label. In 2004, he went to Argentina to do an MA in Journalism. “I had always had a love affair with Buenos Aires,” he says. In 2009, he returned to the States for a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside.
Why writing as a career? Because he figured he enjoyed researching and writing about various subjects. That’s why, besides the assignments that he regularly got at the newspapers, he always tried to look for the offbeat, the unusual, the strange. “And so in the arts, to this day, I go for all that whenever I can,” he says.
Artburst allows him that kind of creativity. And space. “Most publications do not have what we have, and as they shrink budgets, cut back personnel, and move towards more gossip-oriented coverage instead of arts coverage, we increasingly fill what I think is a terrifying and dramatic void in the way arts are covered, not only in this city, but in the nation as well.”
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