BY Cheryl Taylor
Four Latina poets and writers donated material to the Special Collections and Archives Department of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley during FESTIBA, the Festival of International Books and Arts.
Writers Sheila Maldonado, Wendy Ortiz, María Palitachi and Estrella del Valle each presented her donations to Sean Visintainer, head of Special Collections and University Archives, in the Reading Room of the Brownsville Campus University Library, on Thursday, March 3.
“We are delighted to accept into Special Collections and Archives the donations today of our guest writers, who, through the Living Writers Program, are donating their works, manuscripts and related collections to UTRGV,” Visintainer said. “These materials will be preserved and made available to our patrons – students, staff and the faculty of UTRGV, as well as distance researchers and members of the community – today and beyond.”
Dr. Christopher Carmona and a group of students were present for the donation. Carmona, assistant professor of Creative Writing, established the Living Writers Program in 2012 at then-UT Brownsville/Texas Southmost College. The popular Writers Live @UTB has evolved into a vital part of FESTIBA.
“We are pleased that this program continues, and that we are attracting writers who have made significant contributions to contemporary literature,” Carmona said. “Having writers such as Wendy, Sheila, Maria and Estrella visit and speak on campus is a boost for students’ development. As examples of flourishing Latina artists, they offer inspiration and encouragement.”
The day prior to the donation event, students had a chance to meet and interact with the four writers at separate presentations on the Brownsville Campus. Each gave readings and spoke informally with the students about their work and their writing journeys.
THE WRITERS AND THEIR DONATIONS
Sheila Maldonado is the author of “one-bedroom solo” (Fly by Night Press, 2011). She is a CantoMundo Fellow of the University of Arkansas Press and a Creative Capital awardee as part of desveladas, a visual writing collective. Maldonado, whose parents emigrated from Honduras, is a native New Yorker who lives in Uptown Manhattan. Her next publication, “that’s what you get,” is forthcoming from Brooklyn Arts Press. She donated several copies of “one-bedroom solo,” including a marked-up copy with her personal notes.
Wendy C. Ortiz, a Los Angeles native, is the author of “Excavation: A Memoir” (Future Tense Books, 2014), “Hollywood Notebook” (Writ Large Press, 2015), and the forthcoming dreamoir, “Bruja” (Civil Coping Mechanisms, Oct. 31, 2016). Her work has been profiled or featured in the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Rumpus, and the National Book Critics Circle Small Press Spotlight blog.
Ortiz’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, Hazlitt, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The Nervous Breakdown, Fanzine, and a year-long series appeared at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Ortiz donated several chapbooks (small collections of poetry), including “Free Feeder” (two), “4th Street” (six), and “Bedwetter” (one). She also contributed an annotated bibliography on the written word in Latina culture that she compiled in 1995 while a student at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, where she still lives. Her final donation was an unpublished manuscript titled “42.”
María Palitachi, a native of the Dominican Republic, has lived and worked in New York since the age of 17. She received her B.A. from Hunter College, M.A. in education from Fordham University, and a Ph.D. in school administration from Long Island University. She is a former assistant principal, and has taught English as a Second Language and Bilingual Education.
A member of Dominican Poets USA and the literary group Camila Enriquez Ureña, Palitachi’s work has appeared in anthologies in the United States, Spain and the Dominican Republic. The author of six books, Palitachi has compiled a trilogy of poetry, “Voces de América Latina.” The first two volumes consist of living poets from all 19 countries of Latin America (minus non-Spanish speaking Haiti and Brazil); the third volume is filled with fiction by living writers.
Palitachi’s donations included the books “De Cuerpos y Ciudades,” “Las Horas de Aquel Paisaje,” “Infraganti,” “Once Puntos de Luz,” and the “Voces de América Latina” trilogy.
Estrella del Valle has made El Paso, Texas, her home since 2005. Since 1998 she has written five books; her poems have been translated in the United States by Toshiya Kamei, and have been published in Burnside Review, International Poetry Review and Diner, among others. Her most recent poetry collection, “El desierto, Dolores,” was published in 2003. Del Valle donated her most recent work, an anthology of her poetry, “La Selva Afuera,” to the university.
UTRGV SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AND ARCHIVES
Visintainer said the department is dedicated to collecting, preserving and making accessible the culture of the Rio Grande Valley, northeast Mexico, Texas/Mexico at large, and works by and about South Texas residents, as well as themes and stories important to them.
“Although this department of the University Library, by necessity, looks towards the past – and rightfully so, as we are in the business of collecting unique, rare, and antiquarian materials – we also make a concerted effort to acquire contemporary material,” Visintainer said. “What we acquire in the present will soon be the past, and it is important to think of the work of the present in the context of future researchers.”