Debut of a new San Antonio annual event: Las Américas Letters Series in Literature

WHEN: March 8-10, 2007

WHERE: St. Mary’s University

MAJOR EVENTS: Performances by Native American poet and musician Joy Harjo and by
Caribbean author and performance artist Mónica Gontovnik.
SEE BELOW for full schedule.

PRICE: With the exception of the opening banquet / Harjo performance (see ticket info below)
all events are free and open to the public

CONTACT: Dr. Gwendolyn Díaz, English Department, St. Mary’s University
gwendiaz@sbcglobal.net • (210) 436-3107 or 431-2007
Dr. Diaz will be happy to facilitate interviews with the artists.

Las Américas Letters Series in Literature and the Arts is an exciting, three-day celebration of the literature and art of the Americas. Spreading our wings to cover the entirety of the Americas, this year we are featuring two extraordinary artists of international renown: Native American poet and jazz musician Joy Harjo and her new band, The Arrow Dynamics, and Colombian-Caribbean author and performance artist Mónica Gontovnik.

Other guests include artist Consuelo Gómina, scholars Patricia Gonzales, Debora Andrist and Marian Aitches, poets Jenny Browne and Cyra Dumitru, as well as students from area high schools and colleges. All events, except for the banquet, are free and open to the public. This series of events intends to offer our community empowerment through creativity and cultural understanding, while uniting the two Americas through the eyes of authors, artists, musicians, scholars, and educators.

Las Américas Letters Series in Literature and the Arts is the successor event to the decade-long series of Latina Letters Conferences, which were co-sponsored by St. Mary’s University and the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. That conference was predominantly academic, and focused mainly on US Latina literature. St. Mary’s University is the sole sponsor of Las Américas Letters Series in Literature and the Arts.

Gwendolyn Díaz, Ph.D
Director, Las Américas Letters


Joy Harjo is the most well known of all contemporary Native American writers. Her many honors include The American Indian Distinguished Achievement in the Arts Award, the Josephine Miles Poetry Award, the William Carlos Williams Award, and fellowships from the Witter Bynner Foundation, the Lannon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Harjo’s books of poetry include How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems (2002); A Map to the Next World: Poems (2000); The Woman Who Fell From the Sky (1994), In Mad Love and War (1990, American Book Award), Secrets from the Center of the World (1989),and She Had Some Horses (1983). She performs her poetry and plays saxophone on several CDs and in performance around the world. Her CDs include Native Joy for Real, Letter from the End of the Twentieth Century, and She Had Some Horses. Born in Oklahoma, she lives in Hawaii when she is not teaching (University of New Mexico) or touring.

Mónica Gontovnik is a writer, stage and film actress, and performance artist. Originally from Colombia, she has performed throughout Latin America and the Caribbean for thirty years. In 1982, she founded the Kore Dance Theater Company for which she wrote, produced, directed, and performed original work. Gontovnik was in the cast of the short film, Rita va al supermercado (2000, directed by Jessica Grossman) and in Ben Flaherty’s 2002 film, Tuscaloosa (Best Feature Film, New York International Independent Film & Video Festival). Her books include Pandora Parrandera (2001), Flor De Agua (1992) Objeto De Deseo (1992), and Y Tirada Temblando Mirare El Relampago (1982). Gontovnik’s areas of expertise extend beyond the arts to the fields of psychology and philosophy, particularly in feminism. Her current work explores the topic of Cyber-Feminism, an area of thought developed in large part by feminist Donna Haraway. For more on cyber-feminism and Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto visit http://www.stanford.edu/dept/HPS/Haraway/ CyborgManifesto.html


Monday, March 5-Friday, March 9

Performance Workshop with Mónica Gontovnik:
Gontovnik will conduct a performance workshop with area students. The focus is on exploring connections between words, language and movement. If you are interested in participating, contact Dr. Gwendolyn Diaz at gdiaz@stmarytx.edu – subject line: “Monica’s workshop”

Thursday, March 8
“Poetic Tax, Good Luck” with Mónica Gontovnik
St. Mary’s University Quadrangle
A public/private reading of poems/cards in the style of a fortune teller. This creative interactive event will involve passersby who want their “poetic fortune” told by Gontovnik. Unsuspecting students who have their “poetic fortune” read by the author will find that there is a “tax” to pay...

Thursday, March 8
Banquet and Concert with Joy Harjo & The Arrow Dynamics
Room A, University Center
A poetry and music performance by Harjo and her band, The Arrow Dynamics. This special event will be followed by book signings by Harjo, Gontovnik, Frances Treviño, Nina Durán and other authors.

Banquet/Concert Tickets $25
Credit card purchases: (210) 431-4311
By Mail: Make checks out to “St. Mary’s University/Las Americas Letters”
and mail to Advancement Services, St. Mary’s University
One Camino Santa Maria San Antonio, TX 78228.

Friday, March 9
Student Panel: Presentation of papers on the work of Joy Harjo
St. Mary’s University Center, Second Floor, Conference Room B

Scholar’s Panel: Presentation of papers on the work of Joy Harjo by Jenny Browne, Michener Center for Writers, University of Texas; Dr. Marian Aitches, UTSA; amd Dr. Debora Andrist, St. Thomas University.
St. Mary’s University Center, Second Floor, Conference Room B

Open Mic Poetry Readings
Second Floor, University Center
Friday, March 9 (continued)
7pm: “Cyberlilith: A Third World Feminist Manifesto” with Mónica Gontovnik
St. Mary’s University Center, Second Floor, Conference Room A
An ironic performance that showcases a Latin American woman’s response to women’s issues in the U.S. Gontovnik’s Caribbean/Latina response to Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto is humorous, clever and enlightening. It is an interactive performance that will incorporate local students attending her workshop. Dr. Patricia Gonzalez, Smith College expert in theatre, will conduct a discussion following.

Saturday, March 10

10am—11:15am: A Public Interview and poetry session with Joy Harjo, by poets Cyra Dumitru and Marian Aitches, St. Mary’s University Center, Second Floor, Conference Room A
This interview and poetry session is intended to explore issues of Native American culture and history as well as literature. The public is invited to attend free of charge.

11:15 am—1 pm: Poetry Reading by San Antonio Area Students
St. Mary’s University Center, Second Floor, Conference Room A
A poetry reading by area high school and college students of original works inspired by the poetry of Joy Harjo. Students who wish to participate contact Cyra Dumitru at cdumitru@stmarytx.edu.

March 8-10
Art Exhibition by Consuelo Gómina
Second Floor, University Center
Exhibition of paintings on porcelain by Colombian plastic artist Consuelo Gómina

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