Puerto Rican writer Ana Lydia Vega receives honorary doctorate

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The short story writer, novelist and columnist joined a select group of writers like Luis Rafael Sánchez, Mayra Montero, Mario Vargas Llosa, Elena Poniatowska and sisters Luce and Merceded Baralt in receiving an honorary doctorate from the Universidad de Puerto Rico at Arecibo, Cristina del Mar Quiles reports for Primera Hora.

This Friday, writer Ana Lydia Vega received a doctorate honoris causa in Human Letters from the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo for her contributions to literature, conferred as part of the Fifth International Congress of Literature, the Individual and Society in Spain, the Americas and Puerto Rico.

The short story writer, novelist and columnist thus joined a select group of  fellow recipients such as Luis Rafael Sánchez, Mayra Montero, Mario Vargas Llosa, Elena Poniatowska and sisters Luce and Mercedes López Baralt, previously recognized by the UPRA.

With the humor, openness and humility that characterize her, Vega accepted the recognition with a speech turned into a short story or a short story turned into a speech which combined her gratitude to the city of Arecibo with her ever-present voice of denunciation and socio-political protest.

“Tributes ‘posthumize’ writers,” she commented, using a phrase coined by her friend and fellow writer suyo Luis Rafael Sánchez.

“I confess to you that I have already begin to feel the secondary effects of ‘posthumization,’ she continued, before moving on to a terrific comparison between her black academic gown of ‘academic burqa,’ as she called it later, with the gown of a ghotic angel and said that if she didn’t know that she was at the theater of the Arecibo campus, she would “swear that she was floating among the beautiful and neglected pantheons of the Arecibo municipal cemetery like a zombie.”

Vega swore she was seeing men “in black suits like undertakers,” who turned out to be the celebrated writers from Arecibo Manuel Zeno Gandía, René Marqués and Cayetano Coll y Toste, marching as if on an improvised protest with signs that proclaimed “Down with the new tax on gasoline,” “Our debt is unpayable,” A cutlass for the IVA,” and “End the colony.”

She said she also saw women writers from Arecibo, like Trina Padilla, Fidela Matheu, Carmen Alicia Cadilla and Luisa Capetillo.

She described them as wearing a “revolutionary red” lipstick that reminded her of the color worn by Lolita Lebrón when she made her courtesy visit to Congress and all, except for Capetillo, wearing frothy dresses with ruffles. All four wearing a button in support of Oscar López hanging from their necks. These protesting chorus were protesting against “the infamous incinerating plant they were imposing on them in Cambalache,” the writer affirmed.

Towards the end of her speech, Vega wished to share her honor with those who accompanied her through a crucial period of her career as a professor of French at the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras, Carmen Lugo Filippi and Roberto Villanúa, who, together with the late Professor Ruth Hernández published with Vega “Le français vécu” in 1981.

She ended by taking her farewell “in a cloud of happiness, turning once again towards the world of the living.”

During the ceremony, Vega listened to tributes from Antonio Martorell and Rosa Luisa Márquez, Luce López Baralt and Mayra Montero. The president of the University of Puerto Rico, Uroyán Walker Ramos, and the rector of the Arecibo campus, Otilio González Cortés, conferred the degree onto her.

For the original report (in Spanish) go to www.primerahora.com/estilos-de-vida/cultura/nota/otorgandoctoradohonoriscausaalaescritoraanalydiavega-1072282/

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