jueves, enero 09, 2014

Sophfronia tell us about Vermont College of Fine Arts winter residency

[Post from my Vermont College of Fine Arts winter residency.] By Sophfronia

Hello! I'm a writer of fiction and non-fiction, currently studying for my masters in creative writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. I believe in friendship, love and joy and I hope you'll find my work engaging both on a literary level and a life level. Words can change minds and each one I write is an opportunity to do just that. Please let me know what you think--I am, after all, writing to you! This is definitely a two way conversation: inspire others as you're inspired and we'll all grow together.
20140105-215838.jpgThe author Yolanda Arroyo Pizzaro dabbed at the tears in her eyes with Kleenex as she asked the question: “Who will be the leader, the great writer who will tell these women’s stories?” Yolanda is a local writer (in 2008 she was chosen as one of the most important Latin American writers under 39) who visited with us today to talk about her work. The depth of emotion she displayed while speaking told me what it means to write with something at stake. She was talking about narratives of Puerto Rican slave women–stories that have gone unwritten and untold for centuries. On the mainland U.S. slave narratives have been part of our history–most children learn the story of Harriet Tubman in school for instance–but in Puerto Rico that hasn’t been the case. Yolanda passed around a paperback copy of a book she bought at a conference, Memorias de Lucia. Until recently it was the only book about a woman’s personal experience of slavery in Puerto Rico. “I resent that,” she said. “I resent that.”

Yolanda proceeded to go through a list of women slaves for whom some information existed. Some if them were even leaders in slave rebellions. When she finished we had counted 22 women. Yolanda pointed out she has told three of their stories in her short story collection, Negras. “Who will tell their stories?” She asked. “These women want to talk.” I wonder if I can tell one of them? I plan to connect with Yolanda when I get home, go over her list again and see what comes out for me. Such a weighty challenge–can I carry it with the same passion and grace she has? Or will it turn out to be a crusade that doesn’t capture my spirit because it is not my own?


Yolanda began our talk with two questions and a writing exercise. The first question: Do you know the meaning of your name? “If you do,” she said, “it means you want to know about the world and you’re starting with the world around you–your origins. Everything you write comes from the origin of who you are.” The second question: Do you know the names of your father, mother, grandparents, great-grandparents and what they mean? “Look at that history,” she said. “If you don’t know it, a significant part of your poetry/writing will be missing.” She then invited us each to write a four-line poem about our names.

When I came to Puerto Rico I expected to be influenced by the colors, food, and tropical feel of this island. I didn’t realize I would find such a passion for writing. And it’s not the “Oh, I love to write” I’m talking about. Authors such as Yolanda and Hector from yesterday have a deep appreciation for the gravity of writing, for how meaningful it is to produce the written word. They remind me of the Edwidge Dandicat book I read last year, Create Dangerously. How would our writing change if we chose to create with the passion of these Puerto Rican writers?


Workshop Today
Workshop means more tidbits from Mary Ruefle! Here they are:
“Any poem is a configuration of a linguistic energy cycle. Energy is created and it is released. That’s what makes the act of reading a poem satisfying.”
“There’s a huge difference between what the poem is trying to say and what the author is trying to say. The author’s job is to listen to the poem”
“Let’s look at the houses we have built out of words on the page.”
Thank you Mary!
Tomorrow we leave Old San Juan to spend the week in the El Yunque rainforest. We may not have an internet connection there but if not, no worries. I’ll keep good notes and fill you in on our return.


2 comentarios:

Say Lee dijo...

Hola Yolanda, quería preguntarte si me puedes decir el nombre de la autora de Memorias de Lucia? Lo busque en Google y no me aparece, gracias.

Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro dijo...

Memorias de Lucila, una esclava rebelde es de la autoría de Beatriz Berrocal.


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"Odio los fluidos que se me salen del cuerpo cada veintiséis días." Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro (Guaynabo, 1970). Es novelista, cuentista y ensayista puertorriqueña. Fue elegida una de las escritoras latinoamericanas más importantes menores de 39 años del Bogotá39 convocado por la UNESCO, el Hay Festival y la Secretaría de Cultura de Bogotá por motivo de celebrar a Bogotá como Capital Mundial del libro 2007. Acaba de recibir Residency Grant Award 2011 del National Hispanic Cultural Center en Nuevo México. Es autora de los libros de cuentos, ‘Avalancha’ (2011), ‘Historias para morderte los labios’ (Finalista PEN Club 2010), y ‘Ojos de Luna’ (Segundo Premio Nacional 2008, Instituto de Literatura Puertorriqueña; Libro del Año 2007 Periódico El Nuevo Día), además de los libros de poesía ‘Medialengua’ (2010) y Perseidas (2011). Ha publicado las novelas ‘Los documentados’ (Finalista Premio PEN Club 2006) y Caparazones (2010, publicada en Puerto Rico y España).