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Award-winning Mexican author shares how we can all can be writers

Award-winning journalist and author, Elena Poniatowska
September 16, 2014

Renowned French-born, Mexican journalist and author Elena Poniatowska will kick off ASU’s School of International Letters and Cultures' Fall 2014 International Artist Lecture Series with her talk “We Can All Be Writers,” from noon to 1:30 p.m., Sept. 18, at the Memorial Union Turquoise Room 220, on the Tempe campus. Lunch will be served.

Later that evening, at 7 p.m., Poniatowska will present her book "Y dondequiera, la luz” ("And Everywhere the Light"), on the photography of Raul Rámirez "Kigra" as part of the inauguration of Kigra's photographic exhibition at the 
Carlos Fuentes Gallery of the Mexican Consulate,
 320 E McDowell, in Phoenix.

Poniatowska’s works focus on social and political issues facing those considered to be disenfranchised, especially women and the poor. In 2013, she won Spain's Premio Cervantes Literature Award, the greatest existing Spanish language literature award for an author's lifetime works, becoming the fourth woman to receive such recognition.

Major investigative works by Poniatowska include “La noche de Tlatelolco” (“Massacre in Mexico,” 1971), about the 1968 repression of student protests in Mexico City; “Fuerte es el Silencio” (“Strong is Silence,” 1975), about the families of disappeared political prisoners, the leaders of workers’ movements, another look at the massacre in Tlatelolco and others who have defied the government; and “Nada Nadie. Las Voces del Temblor” (“Nothing No one: The Voices of the Earthquake,” 1988), a compilation of eyewitness accounts not only to the destruction of the earthquake, but also to the incompetence and corruption of the government afterward.

Her first novel, “Lilus Kikusy” (1954), is a coming-of-age story about Mexican women before feminism. “Tinísima” is a fictionalized biography of Italian photographer and political activist Tina Modotti. “Querido Diego” (“Dear Diego”) is an epistolary recreation of Diego Rivera's relationship with his first wife, a Russian painter. “Hasta no verte Jesús Mío” (Here's to You, Jesusa), from 1969, tells the story of Jesusa Palancares, a poor woman who fought in the Mexican Revolution and later became a washerwoman in Mexico City. “Las Soldaderas: Women of the Mexican Revolution” is about the women who were in combat, accompanied by photographs from the era.Las Siete Cabritas” (The Seven Little Goats) is about seven women in Mexican society in the 20th century, and “La Piel del Cielo” (The Skin of the Sky) provides moving descriptions of various regions of Mexico, as well as the inner-workings of politics and government.

Poniatowska’s visit is possible thanks to sponsorship from the Mexican Consulate of Phoenix, ASU professor Cynthia Hogue, Regents Professor David W. Foster, the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing and the following academic units at ASU: Department of English; School of International Letters and Cultures; School of Transborder Studies, academic units in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the School of Letters and Sciences (Faculties of Languages and Cultures, and Interdisciplinary Humanities and Communication).