Award-Winning Guatemalan Novelist David Unger to Read from his Works

image of book coverGuatemalan novelist and translator David Unger will discuss his works today from 4 to 6 p.m. in Benedict Hall, room 2.104.

Unger won the 2014 Premio Nacional de Literatura Miguel Angel Asturias, the highest award for a Guatemalan writer. He is the international Representative for the Guadalajara International Book Fair and teaches at the City College of New York. His new novel, El manipulador (The Manipulator), has just appeared in both Spanish and English editions.

The event is hosted by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies. Co-Sponsored by LLILAS Benson.

Renowned Poets Read and Discuss their Works at Spanish an Portuguese Symposium

Posted by Molly Wahlberg, College of Liberal Arts

2484997“Extrañeza, Extranjería, Migración / Estrangement, Foreignness, Migration,” a graduate seminar in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese that convened between Sept. 25 and Nov. 9, recently coordinated with the department’s annual poetry event “Poéticas para el Siglo XXI / Poetics for the 21st Century.” The centralizing theme for both the seminar and the event, which took place on Oct. 27 and was free and open to the public, was the ways in which poetic language confronts and incorporates a variety of differences provoked by cultural contact in contemporary Spain. ?

Internationally acclaimed poets Concha García, Ana Rossetti, Jenaro Talens, Bahia Awah, Limam Boicha, Clara Janés and Abderramán El Fathi led graduate seminar class discussions during their residence around topics of poetic production and reception in Spain today. ? ?

Before the first poet arrived, the students examined recent trends in Spanish poetry and began reading poetry and theoretical works on the seminar topic. The poets themselves have lead class discussions during their residence around poetic production and reception in Spain today. Graduate students have conducted interviews of the poets, which they will publish in a special issue of the department’s graduate student peer-reviewed journal, Pterodáctilo.

The symposium culminated in a thrilling three-hour poetry reading, in which Clara Janés and Bahia Awah participated via Skype from Madrid, while Rossetti, Talens, El Fathi, García and Boicha read to a packed house in the Chicano Culture Room. The reading marked the first time that a Moroccan poet (El Fathi) has ever participated in such a forum alongside Western Saharan poets (Awah and Boicha).

About the poets:

Two of the invited poets, Limam Boicha and Bahia Awah, are from the Western Sahara, but they now reside in Spain, where they have had a powerful impact on Spanish cultural life. They are founding members of the “Generación de la Amistad” (Friendship Generation) and maintain a blog, “Poemario por un Sáhara Libre” (Poems for a Free Sahara), which streamed the poetry reading live to Western Saharans living in refugee camps in Africa.

Abderrahmán El Fathi was educated in Spanish schools in Morocco and completed his PhD in Seville, Spain. He is currently chair of the Department of Hispanic Studies at the University of Tetuán in Morocco. His poetry, written in Spanish about Moroccan migration across the Strait of Gibraltar, earned him the Rafael Alberti Prize for literature in 2000.

Ana Rossetti, along with Clara Janés, Concha García and Jenaro Talens, is among the best-known living poets of Spain. Rossetti’s poems appear in every major anthology (and textbook), and they are taught in most US universities. A major figure of the Spanish cultural scene, Rossetti has written essays, novels, short stories, plays, an opera, song lyrics and fashion catalogue copy. In 2004, Jill Robbins, chair of UT’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese, published an edited volume dedicated solely to Rossetti’s work: “P/Herversions: Critical Studies of Ana Rossetti.”

Clara Janés is a titan of Spanish letters. She has published 30 books of poetry, four novels, monographic books about composers, poets and cultural contact, a handful of plays, memoirs and more than 130 translations. She has received more than 10 prizes for both her literary work and her translations.

Concha García has published eleven books of poetry and has been the recipient of several literary prizes, including the prestigious Jaime Gil de Biedma prize for her book Ayer y calles.

Jenaro Talens, yet another major poet and important cultural figure in Spain is a professor at both the University of Valencia and the University of Geneva in Switzerland. Talens held a visiting appointment for 10 years at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He is the author of 23 books of poetry, along with scholarly monographs and articles in leading peer-reviewed journals about film, poetry and critical theory.

Arias to Present at Guadalajara International Book Fair

arturoThe 1960s in Central America, as in most parts of the world, was a period of intense political mobilization and social change. In “Arias de don Giovanni” (F&G Editores, June 2010) Arturo Arias, professor of Latin American literature in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, explores the consequences of the Central American diaspora in both the United States and Europe during this time of great transition.

Tracing a series of pivotal events during the 1960s – from the Cuban Revolution to mass exile – Arias describes how Central Americans abandoned all hope of ever living again in an idealized community in their homeland. He also examines how those experiences loosened their inner demons and transformed their social behavior in radical ways.

“The ensuing despair leads to a loss of perspective, with catastrophic consequences for the main characters,” Arias says. “Since it is a diasporic novel, it takes us to California, Spain, Brazil and Mexico, but all sentimental yearnings for stability and lost innocence are rooted in Guatemala.”

Arias will present “Arias de don Giovanni” (Spanish edition) on Nov. 29 at the Guadalajara International Book Fair, the second largest book expo in the world.

Summer Reading, Texas Style

Authors have created a literature around summer: at the pool, by the river, in the sweltering heat or in the shade. Whether it’s swimming, camping, hiking or just relaxing on the porch with a good book, summer is the season for enjoying Texas’ natural splendor.

Professor Emeritus Miguel Gonzalez-Gerth celebrates the season with poems highlighting the Lone Star State’s vast deserts, mountains, canyons and rivers.

He has been published extensively in anthologies and magazines, including “Looking for Horse Latitudes,” (Host Publications; 2008). 

Photo credit: NPS/Eric Leonard

Desert Sequence 
(Summer in the Big Bend National Park)
by Miguel Gonzalez-Gerth 
The sun descends
in layers of luminous air.
Through the Great Window of Chisos,
flanked by austere profiles,
the distance is resonant and misty.
On the other side of the river,
rises a northwest of sierra:
Undulant mountains floating night ward
with the incipient dark of evening.
An ether of silence burns in the sky, where the gaze
of distracted thoughts is lost.
The sun sets.
And something winglike flutters
amid purple music, as the turnings of vision and time are deeply sketched along the languid landscape.

In its azure height
The moon cradles nascent sleep.
Behind its back, Sirius and Procyon
bay in brilliant counterpoint.
Night lulls a slender breeze
with its fragrance of sage:
An extensive night flooding the world,
but at leaden gait.
Oh how many dead things
Are perceived in the air! Echoes in the wind and transient images.
The nomad redskin, riding the horizon,
anticipates my gaze with his falcon pupils.
…O Prophecy and Destiny! Gods
go up in smoke and other moons expire…
Night is slow
-like the wisdom of Man-; the stillness
so pure, made of shadows and sand;
a bird and its song perceive it, glissando.
Rain falls suddenly, with depth,
terse weeping from passive treetops.

Dawn winks behind the Rock of Casa Grande;
nebulous firelight glitters
along the burnished contours.
The sun blooms amid the clouds
and kindles distances to iridescence.
The sorrel mustang of morning
stamps upon hills, races through canyons,
sparks from his hoofs igniting
brush, cacti, sand and stone,
all in the desert silence…