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Oscar Hijuelos: Identity, Memory & Diaspora Gabrielle David phati’tude Literary Magazine, Vol. 3, No. 4 As the first Latino author to win the coveted Pulitzer Prize, with extraordinary insight and wit, Oscar Hijuelos engages in a frank conversation about the Cuban American experience, his books, and the unique challenges Latino writers face in America’s publishing […]
CONQUISTADORA IS AN HISTORICAL NOVEL that traces the life of a young Ana Larragoity Cubillas who, inspired by the adventures of her ancestors, travels from Spain to Puerto Rico. Ana confronts isolation, poverty, oppressive heat, disease and hard physical labor in Puerto Rico. As she faces each new challenge, Ana becomes stronger, and as she creates a place for herself on the island, she acquires a greater awareness and understanding of her true identity. Ana is a “conquistadora,” a woman who overcomes obstacles in order to reach her goals, and like Ana, Esmeralda Santiago, who immigrated from Puerto Rico to New York, from poverty to the ivory halls of Harvard, has found her place in American society and the literary world, creating a voice through characters that readers can believe in and ultimately see in themselves.
I COME FROM A FAMILY OF ARTISTSand activists and have long made paintings that grappled with abused resources, misplaced priorities, and histories we forget only to repeat. As a painter, I dismantled hierarchies, invented new cartographies, and exposed structures that generate the very conditions they were meant to prevent. After my son was born during the first Gulf War, the intellectual pacifism behind my work got emotional. Pietàs were the only possibility. By the time of the second Gulf War, I struggled with how not to sink into resignation and cynicism, wondering how art can really matter.
FIRST OF ALL, MY DEAR YOUNG PERSON, you must take an MFA degree in poetry writing. Know that a BA won’t be enough in poetry’s increasingly competitive world; you must have “professional credentials” as well, just as lawyers must, especially if you want to get a job teaching poetry, even to children.
LONG BEFORE THE ADVENT OF A E-PUBLISHING POET Reb Livingston was a believer in the do-it-yourself ethos. As editor and publisher of No Tell Books, a micro-press devoted to poetry, she churns out up to five books a year through her one-woman operation. Livingston wants her titles to remain just as accessible in today’s shifting book culture as those produced by publishing powerhouses. So when the e-book frenzy hit, Livingston embraced the change. She didn’t have a fancy Web team or a contract with an electronic distributor, but she did have Internet access, a coupon from an online publishing platform called Lulu, and enough pluck to give it a shot.
THE PROSPECTS FOR AMERICAN POETRY may look highly uncertain. But one thing can be said with assurance about its future: whatever happens, poets will be sitting around lamenting the present state of American poetry.
ON THE FACE OF IT, it would be hard to imagine a more depressing cultural subject right now than the future of book culture. Publishers are hurting badly; droves of independent bookstores have closed down; Borders, a major chain of booksellers, has filed for bankruptcy and is currently dumping the dregs of its stock at its flagship store on 57th Street and Park Avenue; floundering newspapers have cut loose their reviewers and, at best, folded their book review sections into their shrinking pages. The newspapers themselves may not be far behind. The Great Recession delivered the coup de grace; advertising revenue is in free fall. Ask any editor, any author, any media maven: it is not a pretty picture. The executive editor of the New York Times wonders whether there will still be a print edition five years from now.
IN THE VAST REALM OF NATURE WRITING — nonfiction writing with a focus on nature and the environment – the contributions of writers of color have been overlooked. However, these points-of-view have the potential to widen the breadth of eco-criticism and environmental writings. With African-American nature writing being such a rarely noticed art form, it has come to the attention of several scholars and organizations that American culture needs to be more informed, open, and accepting of nature writing by African-Americans in the present as well as in the past. Because there have been so many Caucasian writers and poets in the Eco-literature genre, African-Americans have often felt alienated from nature, perceiving an invisible division between their culture and nature.
A DYNAMIC AND WELL-ROUNDED INDIVIDUALJames Piatt’s ancestry is an intriguing combination of French, Dutch, Pawnee Indian, and English. He spent his early years excelling academically as well as athletically, becoming the youngest Eagle Scout in the history of Santa Barbara County, and spending three years of his high school career as Class President.
Against the advice and criticism of others, Piatt and his wife, Sandy, married at 20 and 18 respectively. They’ve been happily married for 56 years now, and continue to celebrate a wonderful life together. After dropping out of college to support his young family, he became an electro-mechanical draftsman for Aerophysics Development and aided in the design of the Dart Missile System.
AN ANCIENT TRADITION CARRIED through to present time, ekphrasis is a poetic description of, or commentary on, a visual work of art. While painters and sculptors have been inspired by literary works, writers have continued to translate their interpretation of visual artwork into written form.