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de Piérola’s workshops, a student who spoke little Spanish led a group critique of a student’s short story.The story was in English, but he could not understand the group members who spoke in Spanish, and had to turn for explanations to fully bilingual classmates.“While it hasn’t made my career path to publishing novels any easier, it certainly improved my craft, and my critical eye and opened doors in other aspects of my career,” she says.
English and Spanish are for me the same language.”•In the El Paso program, faculty members strive to respond effectively to students who write in English, Spanish or both.
Professors try to accommodate students in individual conferences by working in their preferred language.
Juárez-El Paso is the largest metropolitan area on the border, with a combined population of more than two million, but the walk from downtown Juárez to downtown El Paso takes less than half an hour. Narváez-Varela went on to explore Mexican and American identities using Spanglish, the mixing of languages in the same sentences. I spoke with three of the masters — Sandra Cisneros, Junot Díaz and Esmeralda Santiago — about how they bridge two languages in their writing and about their graduate school experience. The incident, she said, impeded her connection to Spanish.
Alessandra Narváez-Varela used to walk across that border almost every day from Juárez to classes at the University of Texas, and to help out in the restaurant her family owns in El Paso. In her poem “Real Mexican,” she describes, in raw and troubling language, a Mexican-American ex-convict so confused about his Hispanic identity he doesn’t know what name to call himself. “I realized this was a projection of my own anxieties as a Mexican-American. “I didn’t realize it until after I’d left Iowa,” Ms. “I was writing a letter in Spanish and I thought, this is the voice of ‘The House on Mango Street.’”In her choice of a single word in her native language, Ms. When she named the young narrator of “The House on Mango Street” Esperanza, she wasn’t just giving her a pretty name. Cisneros said, “as well as one that would mean wish, desire and hope.”Mr. program and now teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
A dozen of the 20 students are native Spanish speakers, and all speak at least some English and Spanish.
They are motivated by the desire to write and read in another tongue, and to study with professors versed in other cultures. Y., will start a Spanish-language creative writing degree in 2018, similar to one already in place at New York University.“Go to events where agents and editors meet-and-greet with writers.Take classes you find online or in your town to help you write and learn how to sell it. Bartend or work on a boat for two years to pay for your life, and consider it ‘research.’”While she’s unsure whether to advise other writers on pursuing an MFA or not, she stresses that no matter how much extensive research you do, you’ll never predict how well you’ll work within your cohort and with your professors.“As a trained journalist, I know exactly what goes into crafting an article, from research to reporting to writing to editing,” Scaccia mentions.A student from Mexico City consults another from Las Vegas on a passage in Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby,” occasionally glancing at Google Translate on a laptop.El Paso’s Masters of Fine Arts program, started in 2006, draws mostly local residents from both sides of the border.I know the exact steps I have to take to investigate an incident or track down people hard to find.I know how to spot the lede, structure a story, etc.” will receive a Master’s of Arts in publishing and writing in this spring.Collectively, the programs could play a significant role in developing young writers who publicly voice varied aspects of the Hispanic experience.•The Juárez-El Paso geography — two communities intertwined culturally and economically, separated by a parched Rio Grande barely waist deep — is a topic the students and professors have explored in their literary work. She projected on a screen a copy of the poem, hand-edited by classmates, and an English translation, pointing out to the audience phrases she had originally conceived in English.“Spanish, and the way it’s used to create music in poetry, differs radically in terms of syllables and rhyme,” she discovered. programs did not recognize the Spanish-speaking side of their identities, either by assigning Latino authors or by supporting the Spanish element of their work. Cisneros, who is Mexican-American, described an interaction with her thesis adviser at the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop when she began writing “The House on Mango Street.”She had written the novella in English but inflected it with Spanish phrasings.Perhaps the starkest difference between the cities is the drug-related violence on the Juárez side, which they depict with disturbing visceral images and blunt, uncensored vocabulary. “It was a humbling workshop for me, but an enlightening one, too.”Ms. The adviser criticized her for overusing the word “little,” unaware how frequently the suffix “ito” — for little or cute — is used in Spanish.I now have my Bachelors of Science in Finance from Post University and I'm starting a new career. When the discussion warms up in Andrea Cote-Botero’s graduate seminar, English and Spanish flow freely, just as they do amid the afternoon foot traffic across the nearby Ciudad Juárez border. Many of the students around the table comment in Spanish, sometimes switching languages to highlight a point for the native English speakers. Cote-Botero hangs back, periodically interjecting in either language.