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Guanajuato History through Arts, PEN - talk
español abajo

Tuesday, January 16, 6pm
Bellas Artes Auditorium, Hernández Macías 75
$150

Guanajuato History Unveiled through the Arts, PEN - talk

By Patricia Browne Hirschl

Benjamín Valdivia kicks off the 2018 San Miguel PEN Winter Lecture Series on Tuesday, January 16 at 6pm in the Bellas Artes auditorium. The bilingual philosopher, poet, playwright and Renaissance man will immerse his audience in Guanajuato history as told through its literature, theater and film.

He will show how Carlos Fuentes' novel, The Death of Artemio Cruz, for instance, probes the dark corners of the Mexican revolution that few history books expose, but that profoundly affected Guanajuato.

Professor Valdivia is well-qualified to address his subject. His specialty is philosophy of art, and he's also an artist. He sings and plays the piano, flute and guitar. He's written and produced several plays, and explains that the theater is a natural bridge from philosophic theory to action—think No Exit by John Paul Sartre.

More than half of Valdivia's extensive list of prizes is for his poetry. In his view, poetic language can capture the nuances of philosophy better than prose.
He's also won prizes for novels, essays and plays. Plus, a 1983 Premio International por la Paz y la Vida. "Ah, those were my shortwave radio days," Valdivia chuckles. "I picked up a signal from Prague, began a correspondence with a literary group there, and eventually entered and won a competition."

I interviewed him in his corner office on the third floor of the iconic University of Guanajuato building, famous for its imposing entrance that towers above a steep staircase. Valdivia's windows look out on central Guanajuato in all its picturesque allure. The city hooked him early in life, when he abandoned math to study philosophy at the university. A stretch in Mexico City was just a detour to earn his doctorate from UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.) He soon returned to Guanajuato as a professor.

He's steeped in the work of the city and state's writers, filmmakers and playwrights. Among others, he'll introduce us to satirist Jorge Ibargüengoitia, who skewered local politics. Many of Ibargüengoitia's stories have been adapted to film.

Another film written, directed and produced by Luis Estrada is a dramatic example of the arts as expert history teachers. La Ley de Herodes details corruption in Mexican politics with savage wit. Originally denied release by the government, it burst on the scene right before the fateful election of 2000 that overthrew the PRI party after 80 years of rule.

Clearly, as Professor Valdivia will demonstrate, the arts can teach history and make it, too.
San Miguel PEN is a chapter of PEN International, the organization of writers that fights for freedom of expression around the world. The 150-peso admission helps fund local activities and includes a free glass of wine with dinner afterwards at Vivali's, across the street at Hernandez Macias 66. Tickets at Ticket Central in the Biblioteca or at the door. For more information, visit

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ESPAÑOL

La historia de Guanajuato revelada por el arte

por Patricia Browne Hirschl

Benjamín Valdivia comienza la serie invernal de conferencias del PEN de San Miguel el martes 16 de enero a las 6 pm en el auditorio en Bellas Artes. El filósofo bilingüe, poeta, dramaturgo y hombre renacentista va a sumergir a su público en la historia de Guanajuato narrada en su literatura, teatro y película.

Mostrará como la novela de Carlos Fuentes, La Muerte de Artemio Cruz, por ejemplo, explora rincones oscuros de la Revolución mexicana que pocos libros de la historia exponen, pero que afectaron Guanajuato profundamente.
Profesor Valdivia es bien calificado para dirigirse a su tema. Su especialidad es filosofía de arte. Tambien es artista. Canta y toca piano, flauta y guitarra. Ha escrito y producido varias obras de teatro, en su opinión el teatro es un puente natural entre la teoría filosófica y la acción...como vemos en A puerta cerrada de Jean Paul Sartre.

Más de la mitad de la lista extensa de sus premios es por poesía. También ha ganado premios para novelas, ensayos y obras, más un Premio Internacional por la Paz y la Vida en 1983. "Ay, estos fueron mis días de la radio de onda corta",Valdivia explica. "Agarré la señal desde Praga, empecé una correspondencia con un grupo literario allá y finalmente participé en un concurso y gané".

Yo lo entrevisté en su oficina en una esquina del 3er piso del edificio icónico de la Universidad de Guanajuato, famoso por su entrada imponente que corona una escalera empinada. Sus ventanas dan al centro de Guanajuato en todo su encanto. La ciudad le cautivó temprano en su vida, cuando abandonó las matemáticas para estudiar filosofía en la universidad. Una temporada en la Ciudad de México fue solamente una desviación para ganar su doctorado en la UNAM. Pronto volvió a Guanajuato como profesor.

Valdivia está inmerso en el trabajo de los escritores, cineastas y dramaturgos de la ciudad y del estado. Entre otros, nos va a presentar el satirista Jorge Ibargüengoitia, quien parodiaba la polítical local.
Muchos de sus cuentos han sido adaptados para películas.
Otra película, escrita, dirigida y producida por Luis Estrada, es un ejemplo de las artes como maestros de enseñanza de la historia. La Ley de Herodes detalla corrupción en la política mexicana con ingenio salvaje. Originalmente negada el estreno por el gobierno, estalló en la escena antes de la elección fatídica de 2000 que derrotó al PRI después de 80 años de mando. ¡Claramente las artes pueden enseñar historia y aun hacerlo!

El PEN de San Miguel es un centro del PEN Internacional, la organización de escritores que lucha por la libertad de expresión mundialmente. La contribución de 150 pesos ayuda a sus actividades e incluye un vaso de vino gratis si nos acompaña a la cena después en Vivali, al otro lado de la calle en Hernández Macías 66. Presentación bilingüe. Boletos en la Biblioteca Pública o en la puerta. Más información:

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2018 San Miguel PEN Winter Lecture Series

January 16
Benjamín Valdivia
How the Writers of Guanajuato Turned History into Literature /
Como los escritores de Guanajuato transformaron la historia en literatura

January 23
Gerard Helferich
An Unlikely Trust: Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, and the Improbable Partnership That Remade American Business

January 30
Baldemar Velasquez
Speaking Up for Ourselves: How US Trade Agreements Punish Mexico's Poor /
Hablando por nosotros mismos: Como acuerdos comerciales estadounidenses castigan a los pobres mexicanos

February 6
Magda Bogin & Luisa Valenzuela
The Responsibility of the Word / La responsabilidad de la palabra

February 20
Laura Carlsen
Up against the Wall: US-Mexico Relations from NAFTA to Trump /
Contra la pared: Relaciones EU-México de TLCAN a Trump

February 27
Levi Romero
La Querencia Sagrada: Water, Land and Culture in Northern New Mexico /
La Querencia Sagrada: Agua, tierra y cultura en el norte de Nuevo México

March 6
Macarena Hernández
We Are all Mexicans / Todos somos Mexicanos

Tuesdays, 6pm
Bellas Artes second floor auditorium
Hernandez Macias 75
sanmiguelpen@gmail.com

150 pesos
Tickets: Biblioteca's Ticket Central or at the door.


Richly Varied PEN Winter Lecture Series Speaks to Our Times

By Signe Hammer

The 32nd annual San Miguel PEN Winter Lecture Series may be our most wide-ranging and relevant. We'll discover the culture behind functioning, 400-year-old communal New Mexico waterways and visit an international writing school in a Pueblo Magico. We'll learn about the unlikely relationship of Teddy Roosevelt and J.P. Morgan, explore current US-Mexican relations and view the history of Guanajuato through writers' eyes.

Six of the seven presentations will be bilingual. There'll be multimedia, poetry and song. And the audience can continue the discussion at dinner afterward with the presenters.

The series kicks off on January 16 with Benjamin Valdivia, philosopher, poet, professor and Renaissance man, who, in tracing Guanajuato history through its writers, playwrights and filmmakers, will show that the best historians may be storytellers.

Next up, on the 23rd, veteran writer Gerard Helferich will discuss his new book about Theodore Roosevelt and J.P. Morgan. The two titans occasionally put aside their differences to rescue the country from disaster, thereby changing the way government and business work together.

MacArthur winner and Aguila Azteca recipient Baldemar Velasquez will speak, sing and screen a short video on the 30th. We'll find out how labor and community groups are creating policies to resist the inequities of US-Mexico trade agreements.

On February 6, Magda Bogin and Luisa Valenzuela will address "The Responsibility of the Word." President Luisa Valenzuela has transformed PEN Argentina from a writers' club to an active chapter, on the watch to defend freedom of expression and promote literature. Magda Bogin shares her vision for Under the Volcano, the bilingual writing program in Tepoztlán: to identify, inspire and train the next generation of border-crossing writers.

February 20 brings "Up against the Wall: US-Mexico Relations from NAFTA to Trump" with Laura Carlsen, Director, Americas Program, Center for International Policy, Mexico City. How did relations between these two neighbors—the most integrated nations in the world—reach the current crisis? It's not entirely Trump.

Bilingual poet Levi Romero's multimedia presentation on February 27 will explore acequias, the traditional community waterways that weave water, land and culture into querencia, the New Mexico homeland. In our era of diminishing water resources, could such traditions save the future?

Finally, around the world, the conversation about undocumented and "low-skill" immigration sounds a lot like the conversation in the United States about Mexicans. On March 6, journalist Macarena Hernández's multimedia presentation will look at what it means to say, "We Are all Mexicans".San Miguel PEN is a chapter of PEN International, the organization of writers that fights for freedom of expression around the world. The 150-peso admission helps fund local activities and includes a free glass of wine with dinner after the event at Vivali's, across the street from the Bellas Artes at Hernandez Macias 66. Tickets will be available at Ticket Central in the Biblioteca or at the door. For more information, visit our website at sanmiguelpen.com.

http://sanmiguelpen.com/

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