Author Irene Vilar is visiting the Puerto Rico to offer several writing workshops. On October 20, 2011, she announced the creation of the Fundación Casa Lolita Lebrón Inc. [Lolita Lebrón House Foundation Inc.] which “will preserve and disseminate the historical legacy of the struggle for independence in Puerto Rico through the testimony of the life of Lolita Lebrón and to support organizations dedicated to helping battered women.” Last week, the author led the workshop “Writing from Memory” at the Concha Meléndez House, located in the Condado district in San Juan.
In a recent interview with El Nuevo Día, Vilar, who directed the series “The Americas” at Texas Tech University Press and has her own literary agency, talked about her publications A Message from God in the Atomic Age (1996), which was subsequently published as The Ladies’ Gallery: A Memoir of Family Secrets, and Impossible Motherhood: Testimony of an Abortion Addict (2009).
With the latter book, Vilar says that she was trying “to offer young women a language to understand their relationship with their reproductive body. Many seek validation through their sexuality. It is not the poor and poorly educated women who get the most abortions; it is the middle class women. Society sends crossed messages: on the one hand, it requires you to be an independent professional; on the other, it makes a fetish out of everything that has to do with babies and bellies. And while raising children is a wonderful project, that’s not what [the cultural environment] is telling us. Sweden and Norway women have three years off after childbirth; there, they know that the foundation of society depends on the foundation you give to your children during their early years. But in United States women have to succeed at work. It is a tragedy that is not discussed because feminists fear that it will harm the movement. It is not good to feel split in two.”
The book has already been translated into several languages, including Italian and French; in December, Impossible Motherhood will be released in Spanish. The author shared the first chapter with the text with El Nuevo Día (see link below).
Description: Irene Vilar was just a teenager, a pliant young college undergraduate in thrall to a fifty-year-old professor, when they embarked on a relationship that led to marriage—a union of impossible odds—and multiple abortions. [. . .] Her nightmare is part of an awful secret, and the real story is shrouded in shame, colonialism, self-mutilation, and a family legacy that features a heroic grandmother, a suicidal mother, and two heroin-addicted brothers. Hers is a story that touches on American exploitation and reproductive repression in Puerto Rico. It is a story that looks back on her traumatic childhood growing up in the shadow of her mother’s death and the footsteps of her famed grandmother, the political activist Lolita Lebrón. Vilar seamlessly weaves together past, present, and future, channeling a narrative that is at once dramatic and subtle. Impossible Motherhood is a heartrending and ultimately triumphant testimonial of shame and servility as told by a writer looking back on her history of addiction. Abortion has never offered any honest person easy answers, and Vilar’s dark journey through self-inflicted wounds, compulsive patterns, and historical hauntings revisits the difficulties this country has with the subject and prompts an important, much-needed discussion—literary, political, social, and philosophical. Vilar’s is a powerful story of loss and mourning that bravely delves into selfhood, national identity, family responsibility, and finally motherhood itself.
[Also see previous posts Irene Vilar: Haunted by Lolita Lebrón and Lolita Lebrón’s death shifts attention to her writer granddaughter.]
For full article and Vilar’s first chapter of Impossible Motherhood (in Spanish), see http://www.elnuevodia.com/entregasuhistoriaenespanol-1097704.html
For review (in French) of Maternité avortée, see http://www.elle.fr/Societe/La-parole-aux-femmes/A-vous-de-le-dire/Maternite-avortee-le-livre-qui-fait-scandale-aux-Etats-Unis-1217638
For review (in Italian) of Scritto col mio sangue, see http://www.leiweb.it/celebrity/personaggi-news/10_a_irene-vilar-intervista.shtml
Also see http://www.irenevilar.com/