Press – English

Angelo’s Journey in life and on paper

  • by Tiffany Beard, DC Urban Arts Examiner
  • November 25th, 2010 12:49 pm ET

I met Angelo Solera in 2008, and was highly impressed at the fact that he was a independently published writer of his own works. His story (both published and unwritten) has inspired and affected my life, reading about how he overcame many obstacles, and made difficult and beautiful choices. Solera said, in an interview with yours truly, “I have to say that I have been blessed, because I did not just write two books, I also self-published them, and doing so helped me to grow and evolve as a writer and publisher”.

His first publication, The Journey, told the story of his difficult upbringing, life in America as an illegal immigrant, victory over substance abuse, a political career in Baltimore, and a 400 mile journey (on foot) in rural Spain that changed his life. According to Solera, this journey is still taking place. Part of the journey for Solera included the writing and publication of El Camino, his second book.

Angelo wrote his books in Baltimore (at local Panera Bread eateries), word by word, chapter by chapter. “As I recounted my journey through life, I uncovered many personal demons and fears – love, hate, passion, obsession and dependence, to mention just a few. By doing so, they can no longer control my life or my destiny… I feel free,” says Solera via his publishing website.

Solera has used independent publishing and social media websites to get the word out about the books he has written. He has also started marketing his books in England and Spain. Solera attends book readings and signings, cultural events, coffee shops, and book festivals in the Baltimore-Washington area, inviting people to “visit my website to learn more about me and my books”.

With the help of his friends and family, some of whom he has referred to as “angels” on his path, Solera has become a beacon for Latino community in Baltimore. His political work was a major prompt for the writing and publication of El Camino. “I understand the many linguistic and cultural challenges that many Latinos face in Baltimore and in the United States.” Solera plans to write another book about immigrants leaving their native land to come to America.
Angelo Solera is a living lesson in fearlessness, perseverance, and confidence, and you may find his books on Amazon.com, and of course at the following sites: authorsbookshop.com


Immigrant embracing America: ‘It’s a tough journey for all of us’

The Examiner
Michael Olesker
June 2, 2008

I’m waiting for the next misguided patriot to tell me about keeping immigrants out of America, and the pressing need to make English the official American language because these modern foreigners for some reason don’t want to embrace the English language the way our own immigrant grandparents did.

And then I want to introduce them to my friend Angelo Solera, who took a one-way street from a boyhood in Spain to the streets of East Baltimore and has a newly published autobiography — in English — that makes its debut this week at the Creative Alliance on Eastern Avenue.

And then I want to introduce them to a bunch of American kids who just marched across my television screen. Their names are Hernandez and Deng, and Grimaldo and Gunawan, and Ursua and Shekhar and Aouad.

Their parents arrived here from every distant corner of the Earth. You think these families aren’t interested in learning English? You think they don’t want to embrace the full American experience? Then tell me why these are the kids, with all these funny-sounding last names, who marched across our TV screens last week as finalists in the National Spelling Bee.

But first let’s talk about my friend Angelo, who arrived here 28 years ago, when he was 17, from Salamanca, Spain. Angelo spoke no English. He did housework for $2 an hour for German immigrants who spoke only broken English. They spoke with hand gestures and nods and mutual patience. They were all inching their way toward America.

Angelo lived in a friend’s apartment in the 2900 block of St. Paul Street and one day took the wrong bus home. He was lost and didn’t know how to ask where he was. He saw a sign. It said “One Way.” He thought it was the name of the street.

“I thought, ‘All the streets got the same name here?’ ” he said.

Now he thinks of it as a metaphor: his eagerness to take the most direct route toward a sense of belonging.

Every newcomer wants to belong. You look at those kids in the spelling bee last week and know it right away. The names alone tell you: Quezada and Kao, Caballes and Tsai, Malayappan and Janhari, Kangeyan and Nakamoto, whose families embraced the language a syllable at a time and passed this on to their children.

And you listen to Solera, who learned the language bit by bit, and found a little work here and a little there, until he became a community activist, and then a liaison between City Hall and Baltimore’s growing Latino population. He was vice chairman of the Mayor’s Committee on Hispanic Affairs under Kurt Schmoke, and Hispanic liaison for the health commissioner under Martin O’Malley.

A few years ago, he ran for a City Council seat out of East Baltimore. Some would call it an unsuccessful campaign, because he lost. They miss the point. It was part of the journey toward the full America.

His new book is about some of this. It’s a 245-page autobiography called “The Journey: El Camino.” (Visit angelosjourney.com.) It’s about a literal journey Solera took in 2005, when he returned to Spain to see his family. While there, he walked a 400-mile pilgrimage across the country.

The book is about that journey — and about the larger journeys, from Spain to America, and the journey to find himself.

“Translating emotions from Spanish to English gave me language and cultural challenges,” he was saying the other day, lunching at Jimmy’s Restaurant in Fells Point. “I just held the pen and listened through my soul.”

His son, Juan Antonio Solera, 22, who just graduated Howard University’s journalism program, edited the manuscript. Yeah, Juan must be one more child of an immigrant who doesn’t care about the English language, and doesn’t care about embracing the full America.

Like those kids in the final round of the National Spelling Bee last week, with the names Pineda and Zung, and Janhari and Malayappan, and Grimaldo and Vavilala.

“It’s a tough journey for all of us,” Solera said. “We’re all human, and we all want to be somebody and feel like we belong.” He comes from Spain, but now he belongs to America. He’s written the whole story in the English language he has embraced.

Just like those American kids in the finals of the national spelling bee, whose names are Tsai and Guzman, and Chung and Nawaz, and Chatrath and Ursua. They come from families that embraced the language a syllable at a time, and America was embraced simultaneously.

Angelo Solera

The Baltimore Sun
June 1, 2008
By Liz Atwood

Angelo Solera was born in Spain and immigrated to the United States at the age of 17 in search of the American Dream. What he found instead were low-paying and dangerous jobs, a failed marriage and cocaine addiction. While in drug treatment, he became aware of the lack of services for Latinos in Baltimore, prompting him to become a community activist and a health-care advocate and to make a run for City Council. His struggles culminated in a return to Spain, a 400-mile pilgrimage and now a new book and CD, The Journey. There will be a book signing and video presentation at 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday at Creative Alliance in East Baltimore. Additional information can be found at his Web site: angelosjourney.com.

His three favorite books were those given to him by friends. “The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino

This was given to me by my first sponsor in recovery. … It has a powerful message about life and what it is to be human.

“El Soldado de la Luz” (The Warrior of the Light)
by Paulo Coelho (Spanish Edition)

This book showed me that I was not crazy or alone; it showed me that what I was doing needed to be done. It also gave me valuable information that helped me to prepare myself for the many battles I had to face.

“The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle Given to me by my good friend Kristin Ortiz, at a time in my life where I was dealing with some emotional issues caused by a bad intimate relationship.