- Impressive campus
Reading and presentation at the University of Georgia in lovely Athens, GA
I’ve been to UGA three times. The first time I was a fellow at the Womanist Consortium, a Rockefeller Grant-funded summer research institute co-directed by Barbara McCaskill and Layli Phillips. I was working on mapping out the connections between Latina writers and womanist theory and womanist writers. Not coincidently, I was researching Judith Ortiz Cofer’s work who was/is a professor at UGA. I had been teaching her work–poetry, fiction and non-fiction–for some time and hoping to meet her. I was fortunate to have caught up with Judith that summer of 1996, and did a short interview with her in a cafe in downtown Athens. We agreed to meet up again later in the summer when she and I would be in Puerto Rico.
I got to see her hometown of Hormigueros (near Mayaguez where I have very dear friends José and Sara Irizarry). I think that anytime in Puerto Rico is a good time; my family and I went to visit José and his family. We all met at Boqueron and walked on the beach a while. I met her mother and other relatives all staying at the beach. The beaches on this side of the island are lovely–this (below) is Boqueron.
I read from Everyday Chica and Marielitos, Balerso and Other Exiles
The second time I went to UGA was in 2007 when Judith Ortiz Cofer invited me to do a reading and I planned to interview some of Barbara McCaskill’s students who had contributed to her important website The Civil Rights Digital Archive
(she co-directs it at UGA). I was thinking of ways to expand upon a website my students (Indiana de la Cruz and Stephanie Gonzalez) and I had created to promote the teaching of Latino/a authors (Making a Place–no longer on web). This was in 2007 during the first semester of my first sabbatical.
Barbara McCaskill and Judith Oritz Cofer with me at the reception after the reading.
So, the third visit was just last week. Once again Judith invited me to do a reading and in the time from 2007 to 2011, I went from no books of my own to two books and a spoken word CD. Dr. Channette Romero taught my collection Marielitos, Balseros and Others Exiles in her Caribbean Literature class. I was so happy to visit with her students and answer all of their thoughtful questions–some I hadn’t even considered before! I read the short short “Failed Secrets” and selections from Everyday Chica and even played some tracks from Everyday Chica, Music and More, the spoken word CD that will soon be released and sold on Amazon (check back in a couple of weeks). Barbara brought her Honors class into Channette’s so they could hear my presentation too.
At the reading, Judith gave me a lovely introduction and made mention of how my publications had been the fruit of many years of work–so true! But, so help me, I plan to keep on writing and sending my work out there in the world. Dear reader, do tell me if I’ve reached you.