21 April 2005

Land of letters

Aw, shucks. Such warm encouragement is inspiring!

Although it feels perfectly normal to be living here (one of the quirks of being bi-cultural, more on that at some point), it is a bit surreal to see things like the aforementioned high-rise, as well as SUVs with license plates that say Aracataca (the real "Macondo," which is about an hour's drive away). Imagine a Yoknapatawpha Suite next to a Holiday Inn!

My issues are of your general former-lit-major-slash-proofreader-turned-elementary-educator variety. However, yesterday was great. Highlights included origami frogs we made in art and the appearance of a windmill in the phonics workbook (under the letter "w"). Yes, I had to explain that a windmill is a molina. I asked the class (of six-year-olds, mind) if they knew about Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. One little boy looked up at me with a gap-toothed smile and said, "Vale" (subsequently stealing my heart). And for the benefit of the others, I...er...well...wound up semi-acting out Quixote's charge (and subsequent fall) on his noble steed Rocinante.

Needless to say, I think I need to tie in random items with stories more often. Pig? Charlotte's Web. Mop? Cinderella. Pin? Dancing angels.

Ok. Maybe not.

At any rate, I'm learning. Tomorrow we're celebrating "el Día del Idioma Español" (Spanish Language Day)--Cervantes and Shakespeare both died on 23 April 1616--and the school will display (homemade) literary exhibits, as well as hold a special assembly. I'm looking forward to it.

Also, between 20 April and 2 May, Bogotá is hosting its 18th annual "Feria Internacional del Libro" (International Book Fair: less spectacular and truncated English version here). With the participation of 95% of the Colombian publishing community, they're expecting about 400,000 people to attend. Events include a conference on the music in Don Quixote, a complete exhibit of all the first critical editions of "el Quijote," a photographic exposition of Quixote's geographical route through Spain by the Colombian photographer Rodrigo Moncada, as well as several panel discussions by Latin American and Spanish authors. Then there are the events commemorating the 200th anniversary of Hans Christian Andersen's birth, and a children's book drive.

The central theme of the fair is "In Praise of Reading: from the Quixote to Pinocchio," and the Colombian Ministry of Culture (with its recent reading and library initiative, under the administration of president Álvaro Uribe) is leading other organizations in support of the fair, which is a perfect place to "draw the attention of Colombians to the necessity of cultivating reading, to reflect on the culture of the book, to hear about national and international authors' experiences as readers, to discuss policies and processes of developing readers, among other activities" (roughly translated from the site).

Participating authors include: "Fernando Savater (España), Alberto Manguel (Argentina), Mempo Giardinelli (Argentina), Juan Villoro (México), Noé Jítrik (Argentina), Hernán Lara Zavala (México), Tununa Mercado (Argentina), Fernando Cruz Kronfly (Colombia)." There will also be additional activities such as a panel discussion on writing, which will include "Fernando del Paso (México) and R. H. Moreno Durán (Colombia)," and a discussion on Latin American literature with "Juan Villoro (México), Mempo Giardinelli (Argentina) y Santiago Gamboa (Colombia)."

It sounds amazing. Some of the author topics will be questions such as, "Who and What is a Reader? What Book Changed Your Life?" and "How are Your Personal Libraries Arranged?"

I'm not sure if I can swing a visit down to Bogotá in time to participate, but I'm definitely looking into it.

1 comment:

zayne said...

good to see you keeping up the blog. if you get a chance, how abt showing your face in the orchard.

peace,
zayne