Writing: Mayaguez’s Lost Treasure

Alberto and some remaining participants at the circle for short narrative.

27/10/11

By Eduardo Sánchez Rosario

“…Así como fue un secreto las veces que hice lo mismo con mi hijo Rolando.” were the final words in Jorge Lopez’s shocking story, Maria Córcega. It was about 11:30 a.m. and nobody could utter a word. The classroom had deep echoes and the air was somewhat unfamiliar. There were about eight students from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus (UPRM) sitting in a physics classroom, all awed at Jorge Lopez’s story. They were, mostly, from different faculties, ages, and backgrounds, but one thing united them: writing. These students were there at the semester’s first reunion for the circle of short narrative, a group created by student Edward Rivera a year ago; with the purpose of discussing, sharing and reviewing each other’s stories and poems.

Edward started the group after noticing a severe lack of a community for the rough gems that he had seen at UPRM, and yet after a year of a somewhat lacking attendance, he decided to focus more on his graduate studies, and leave the group’s “leadership” to Alberto Pagan Acevedo, who’s in his fifth year in Hispanic Studies. For Alberto, one of the campus’ great student authors and a tutor at the spanish writing center (CRE, for spanish), writing is a “necessary hobby”, one he wishes to take into his career as well.

The main problem with these kinds of events is the attendance. Sadly, students seem to be uninterested in writing; a social problem that comes from the lack of interest in reading. The UPRM holds contests and magazines in short bursts, like last year when a narrative contest was held around November. Back then, one of the student-run magazines, Zurde, was still in print as well.

The university still has some resources for young authors, like the CRE; its blog page El vicio del tintero, the circle for short narrative and the organization Love of Writing, Arts and Creativity (LOWAC). Yet they are highly unorganized and small, since most students give their free time to other activities.

“Writing is very important to the college, it’s a model for writing. If you were writing an essay, a research paper, a story, the process is the same. You choose a topic, you research, you focus and write it down, and then you polish it,” stated Francisco Garcia Moreno, one of the campus’ most recognized hispanic studies professor. He is a huge figure for the writing community here at the UPRM, where, apart from his classes, he gives regular conferences on some of the skills to writing a story; serves as a judge for contests, and generally supports the student writers. He’s also an author in his own right, and has published a compilation of stories titled El Mercader de Libros, and hopes to publish a novel next year.

“Writing is a lost treasure for the university community.” stated Alberto. He mirrored Garcia Moreno’s words, and perhaps the words of many other frustrated authors here in the university; stating that “It’s something essential to the development of the individual, as well as a reflection of the current sociological situation. Ok, maybe it’s not a direct reflection, but when someone writes a story, some real event or situation must have triggered that story.” Needless to say, writing is highly underestimated here at UPRM.

The campus focuses a lot more on it’s technical and scientific side, being very prolific in its investigations and scientific studies. It could even be considered a polar opposite to the UPR’s Rio Piedras campus, where most of the student body is composed of liberal arts majors. And perhaps that is what students like Alberto and Jorge try to bring more of to the UPRM with their circle of narrative for the sake of creativity.

Some of Puerto Rico’s most famous contemporary authors are graduates of the UPR system; lsuch as Mayra Santos Febres, Luis Rafael Sanchez and Ana Lydia Vega.

Promotional flyer for the circle, at Chardon.

We’re surrounded by a fountain of creativity, and writing is one of the many ways to express that. It’s a medium that seems to have little popularity and for the sake of readers, let’s hope there are still some writers around.

If you enjoyed this article, you can visit LOWAC’s page at http://uprmlowac.wordpress.com/, and El vicio del tintero’s page at http://uprmlowac.wordpress.com/ for more information. You may also visit the circle for short narative, every thursday at the university hour in F-328.

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