In this conversation with Giancarlo Ghedini, on the Story King Podcast, we discuss various topics. These range from my book, Migrations, to embracing one’s ethnicity. Everything centers on my being a diasporican, a Puerto Rican living in that inbetweeness created by the diaspora experience. This was an enjoyable and lively conversation. Tune in and take it all in!
This was a wide open conversation with Dr. Jeniree Flores for her podcast, LatinXCan. It’s a wonderful podcast that features diverse Latinx professionals talking about their careers and related topics. I got a chance to talk about my new collection of stories, Migrations. But I also discussed shared details about my academic career, writing, and language. All of this led to a lively discussion on stable careers in the humanities. Listen in and learn why you will not starve if you study the humanities. In fact, you might be surprised to know people majoring in the humanities not only find stable careers, but do quite well for themselves! It’s episode 37 on this link: https://cms.megaphone.fm/channel/latinxcan
Thanks to Dr. Jonathan Slater, Director of the Institute for Ethics in Public Life, for inviting me to lead a colloquy centered on my current project, Clemente Between the Worlds. It’s a novella focusing on Roberto Clemente and race. This was an opportunity to discuss why I chose this topic and how the book is progressing. Join me as we discuss issues related to race, whiteness, colonialism, and critical race theory as presented from a Puerto Rican/Caribbean perspective.
My interview with Minni Sawhney for the New Books Network covered many aspects of Migrations, my short story collection. Dr. Sawhney posed excellent questions that allowed me to discuss this collection at a deeper intellectual and critical level than other interviews. This interview also gave the book more critical context. Please take a listen and let me know your thoughts.
From the New Book Network website: Migrations (LA Review of Books, 2021) is a collection of short stories by the Puerto Rican born writer and now retired university professor J. L. Torres. Each story condenses a bit of the experience of a cross section of Puerto Rico: the rich who treat it like a playground, the stereotypical macho men, the shanty town dwellers. The ramifications of the stories are deep and the varied tales range from climate change and the destruction of natural ecosystems by tourism, to the Puerto Ricans of the diaspora who struggle in dysfunctional families and who long to be part of the mainstream but have weathered the subtle racism of American society that has taken a toll on their inner lives. Torres’s stories bring alive Puerto Rico to us, its natural beauty but also try to show the colonial economy that the country is.
Minni Sawhney is a professor of Hispanic Studies at the University of Delhi.
This is my most recent review. No, not on a book but a film. Given the controversies surrounding Steven Spielberg’s film, I wanted to revisit West Side Story and share my observations. If you like it, please take a look at some of the other posts on Post Barrio Universe, my website on culture and politics from a Latinx perspective.
On this podcast, I talk with Dr. Karen Bryson, The Curious Professor, about the diasporican experience. We discuss how it has influenced my work, including Migrations, my award-winning story collection. Take a listen and please let me know what you think or if you have any questions.
The definition of gadfly is the following: 1 : any of various flies (such as a horsefly, botfly, or warble fly) that bite or annoy livestock. 2 : a person who stimulates or annoys other people especially by persistent criticism, a political gadfly. Of course, I lean toward the second meaning of this word. More specifically, I refer to myself as a Puerto Rican gadfly. You might wonder why I choose such a word that defines me as an annoying person. I like to think myself a gadfly in the sense that Socrates did. Socrates called himself one because he was persistent in questioning things and enabling others to think critically.
Sometimes this opposition to traditional ideas annoys people. Many people find change of any type uncomfortable. So, they do not want anyone disturbing their stay in the comfort zone they constructed for themselves. I attack uncritical positions and antiquated ideas with the same relish. Being Puerto Rican obviously shapes my perspective, thus the “Puerto Rican Gadfly.” That perspective is on view in this video conversation with Calvin Schwartz on his podcast Conversations with Calvin:We, the Species. Click the video below and listen in. As always, please let me know what you’re thinking.
Rachael Herron’s How Do You Write, is a craft-centered podcast. I thoroughly enjoyed talking to her about craft. Among the several topics we discussed, I talked about how to read like a writer. It’s an approach to reading that affords you the best way to find writing tips. I came across this approach when I read Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer. I often used Prose’s book in my creative writing classes. and would recommend it to every writer. In the meantime, listen in on our conversation below and get a sense of what “reading like a writer” means.
About the podcast, How Do You Write: Explore the processes of working writers with bestselling author Rachael Herron. How do you write a book? Start here. You’ll gain tips to get in the chair, tricks to stay there, and inspiration to get your own words flowing. If you want to check out her website, here is the link: http://www.howdoyouwrite.net.
About the host: R.H. (Rachael) Herron is the bestselling author of more than two dozen books, including thriller (under R.H. Herron), mainstream fiction, feminist romance, memoir, and nonfiction about writing. She received her MFA in writing from Mills College, Oakland, and she teaches writing extension workshops at both UC Berkeley and Stanford. She is a proud member of the NaNoWriMo Writer’s Board. She’s a New Zealand citizen as well as an American.
“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Adichie’s take on stereotypes and ‘the single story’ is useful for BIPOC writers. Stereotypes are untrue. But she argues that the singularity of these stories based on a stereotype’s falsehood is the more significant problem. BIPOC writers should understand that these false stories inhabit the uncritical minds of people through the narratives they consume. These single stories take hold in the wider imaginary of any culture and society. They then become biased ‘truths’ in the minds of individuals.
The antidote to this noxious process is to have writers create counter-narratives that challenge these mainstream false, single stories. We all know that there are more perspectives to any one story. Historically, when the conquerors write the history, their perspective reigns. This perspective justifies, validates and disseminates itself as ‘THE truth.” By doing so, it silences and devalues the stories of others. So, it is imperative that we BIPOC writers construct narratives, whether through historiography or fiction, that provide the ‘other’s’ perspective. This quote, taken from her TED Talk, has strengthened my belief in how I approach writing and my commitment to challenge the existing ‘single stories.‘
Such an engaging conversation with host Julian Esteban Torres Lopez. This is one of the best conversations I’ve had with a podcast host that discusses Puerto Rico’s present condition. Our conversation centered on the idea of living in the “Nuyorican Hallway” and belonging and living in between worlds. But it also goes beyond those topics to embrace significantly related issues. Listen in. I’m sure you’ll find it fascinating and informative.
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