Re-Writing Borders/Margins/Frontiers: Puerto Rican Writers Speak at the University of Barcelona

Four Puerto Rican authors spoke on Monday (September 27, 2010) at the historic campus of the University of Barcelona (Spain) where a large audience listened a forum entitled “Rewriting Borders: Four Puerto Rican Writers Converse.” Although the title focuses on writing from the borders or margins, in reference to the literature written by authors who are part of a minority, either by gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or other classifications, the invited speakers—Mayra Santos Febres, Janette Becerra, Esmeralda Santiago, and Magali García Ramis—all agreed that, in their cases, their creative processes are divorced from their struggle for gender equality or the construction of national identity. Their writing is inspired by many different stories that they want to tell, regardless of their gender or activism.

The writers offered a historical analysis and traced the chronological trajectory of the search for national identity spanning from Antonio S. Pedreira’s Insularismo to José Luis González’s “El país de cuatro pisos” but noted that there was a point in the late 1980s when the issue of national identity was no longer central to literary production in Puerto Rico. In spite of this, for García Ramis, the word insularismo still holds great weight in Puerto Rican literature due to “our island status.” For Becerra, being from the island presupposes “assuming a hybrid identity” as a given and, from that standpoint, embarking on” writing about other matters.”

On the topic of women in Puerto Rican literature, all agreed that they did not seek to insert a feminist discourse in their fiction or poetry. In fact, García Ramis prefers to turn to journalistic pieces or essays to offer opinions or discussion on various topics of social interest. All concurred that women writers should not be expected to write about women’s concerns and that the creative process must be free of restrictive categories.

[Many thanks to Larry LaFountain for bringing this item to our attention.]

For full article (in Spanish), see

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