In conjunction with their final papers, students in “Mexican Writings in the 21st Century: A Case for Poetry,” with Visiting Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies Juan Manuel Portillo presented on their favorite contemporary Mexican poets. Delivered entirely in Spanish, the presentations were shared with community members at the Office of Intercultural Affairs.
Along with the presentation of their research, students created poetic installations. While some students chose to create dioramas, others used authentic Mexican textiles, book cover art, portraits and video to create a display that embodied the work and style of each poet. “The class is a high level Spanish Literature course, therefore the students are fluent in Spanish, but analyzing Spanish poetry is like a whole new language,” says Portillo.
International relations and Spanish and Hispanic studies double major Ellis Linsmith ’20 focused on the poetry of Mónica Nepote, an author of poetry, essays, chronicles and literary criticism whose work has appeared in El Ángel, Biblioteca de México and Crónica Dominical, among other publications. Linsmith focused on Nepote’s hybrid form poem “Mi voz es mi pastor” that included written poetry and a movement performance.
“In her movement piece she tapes down two adjacent rectangles, as if she were creating the pages of her book,” Linsmith says. “At certain points in her performance, she dances or moves on the tape – literally placing herself in the margins of the text.”
Andres Lopez ’21, a psychology and Spanish and Hispanic studies double major, researched the work of Sara Uribe Sánchez, whose work often explores Mexican politics. “I am Nicaraguan and El Salvadorian and enjoy seeing how Uribe’s work relates to these countries too.”
Throughout the semester, students have surveyed many contemporary Mexican poets and forms of poetry. Linsmith recalls, “On the first day of class we wrote about what we thought poetry was. We would all have very different answers on our last day.”