Central Valley of Chile
by Fernanda Martinez Varela, MA scholar at MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish.
a) Context of use
Some psalms and a particular type of the Cantus to the divine have its use in ceremonies and community celebrations. The Cantus to the divine based on the “Angel’s farewell” refers to those songs that are performed after the death of a baby during his wake in order to alleviate the sadness of the parents through singing. It is a celebration because is assumed that the boy or girl will go directly to heaven since he or she is free from sin. On the other hand, in biblical psalms we can find some texts that have their use in ceremonies and feasts. Psalms 114, 115, 116, 117, 135 have their use during Easter; psalm 118 during the Pentecost; psalm 47 during the New Year… This resemblance may be due to the fact that both songs are connected by their ritual nature, which, according to the RAE, is related to ceremonies by custom that are performed with a sacred character. In the case of “Angel’s farewell”, the passage from life to death; in the psalms, in general, the festivities highlighted by Christianity.
b) Past and present
The tradition that is updated in those who pray or sing is important in both discourses. In the Cantus to the divine is the tradition that contributes to knowledge, since the songs are transmitted from generation to generation, but is also the tradition updated in the singers according to the situation where the enunciation takes place. For example, in the “Angel’s farewell” the song is updated to comfort the mother who suffers because the death of her son/daughter; the mother is named, the guests are greeted, etc. On the other hand, in the biblical psalms, is the man´s experience with god what is transmitted to the next generation but it is also updated because is the prayer who shares from his present the experience transmitted by the text. Thus, both come together in a common religious feeling. Regarding the above, Collin (1997) writes: “El salmo es un poema bíblico, es decir, un instrumento para recordar la tradición de un pueblo; es un instrumento que todo usuario recibe y que debe tomar en la mano y agarrarlo con fuerza” (p.7).
Posted by Natalia Aguilar Vasquez – PhD Student at NYU Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literature
Art gallery and cultural space FLORA ars+natura in Bogota, Colombia. First day of the curatorial workshop by Miguel A. Lopez, July 30th 2018.
My research interests were, initially, the intersections between contemporary art and recent literature in Colombia, specially focused on ways of representing violence, memory, and trauma in the Colombian society and the bodies. That research shifted, and instead of dealing only with bodies and Biopolitics as critical lenses to understand such aesthetics, I noticed a “return” or, as many would say, an always latent concern with “the land”, the politics of creating landscapes and, most importantly, the spatial dimension of the Colombian internal war and conflict.
I started a journey visiting art galleries in Bogotá, new spaces for art and culture in the city. The “return” and reincorporation of landscape was visible in several exhibitions coming from young artists, but also in the creation of new spaces for culture in the city. Hybrid locations, a mix of gallery, research centers, and incubators for artistic projects. The question of physical boundaries, personal and public/political space, as well as the ambivalent relation between the urban and the rural, are crucial to imagine and live, in the so-called “post-conflict” Colombia.
Zane Koss and Sergio Mondragón on June 11, 2018.
Posted by Zane Koss – PhD Candidate in English Literature at NYU
On June 11th, I had the pleasure of meeting with Sergio Mondragón in the Coyoacán neighbourhood of Mexico City. My dissertation focuses on Mexican and Canadian poetry in the 1960s and 1970s, searching for meaningful connections between poets and means of reading comparatively that are able to situate these poets both within their own complex national contexts and within broader transnational poetic movements. From 1962 to 1969, Mondragón co-edited and co-published El corno emplumado / The Plumed Horn, a bilingual magazine of poetry and the arts in Mexico City with Margaret Randall, a young poet who had recently arrived in Mexico from New York. The magazine was a flashpoint of transnational literary and cultural exchange, publishing young and established poets from across the Americas, translated into both Spanish and English whenever possible. Our conversation that day covered a wide array of subjects, but – as the sprightly 82-year-old warned me beforehand – his memories of the 1960s were “borrosos o entremezclados.”
The day after our meeting, I received an unexpected phone call from Sergio. At his request, I had sent him a couple of my own poems, and he wanted to return his compliments by inviting me for a meal at his home in the hills west of Coyoacán and San Ángel. When I had asked Sergio about the work he performed translating the Canadian poet George Bowering’s 1964 book of poems, The Man in the Yellow Boots / El hombre de las botas amarillas – published as the sixteenth issue of El corno – he had quickly pointed out that Margaret Randall, who edited magazine’s English-language portions, had likely done most of the work in selecting poems and corresponding with Bowering. He insisted further that she had probably helped extensively with the translations. I failed to register the full importance of this comment at the time, considering it more of a polite nudge from Sergio to redirect my inquiries to Randall. But visiting Sergio in his home revealed the deeper truth of his statement.
Posted by Madeline Gilbert – PhD student in Linguistics at NYU
Tile street art in Rivera (yes, this is right-side up!)
I have now been in Uruguay for a bit over a month. On one hand, it feels like I’ve accomplished quite a bit; on the other hand, there is a lifetime of research to be done here. In the last blog post I talked a bit about the project itself, which involves looking at the language contact situation on the border between Uruguay and Brazil, site of the famous portuñol, which, in the popular conception, is neither Spanish nor Portuguese but a broken mixture of the two. In this post, I want to talk a bit about the process of data collection, which is both full of challenges and very rewarding.
First: what kind of data am I collecting? Because I’m interested in peoples’ use of language in daily life, I’m conducting (and recording) sociolinguistic interviews, asking people to read a word list, and fill out some demographic and language use questionnaires. The process typically takes about 90 minutes. Sociolinguistic interviews consist of talking with people about topics like childhood, family, school, hobbies, work, travels, and the like. The goal is to elicit the most natural speech possible within the context of a recorded conversation. The word list reflects a more careful speech style and was designed around some linguistic variables. I have reason to think might be interesting to compare between speakers from Rivera and Montevideo. The demographic forms ask more explicitly about peoples’ linguistic history, places of residence, use of Spanish/Portuguese/other languages, and a little about their attitudes towards these languages.
Santiago Figueroa. Folklorist, researcher and expert in popular music.
by Fernanda Martinez Varela, MA scholar at MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish.
Shortly after arriving in Chile, I went to the public library of Doñihue in order to search for bibliographic material and, fortunately, there I met Santiago Figueroa Torres; a folklorist, researcher and expert in popular music. Talking informally while drinking coffee, I explained to him my thoughts about this investigation and he gave me his vision as an expert on the subject. Consequently, aided by this chance, his insights have served me as a guide for reading the bibliographic material found and redefining my research question.
What similarities exist between the Cantus to the divine cultivated in Chile and the Christian psalms in the Latin American version of the Catholic Bible? This is the question the present research will try to answer. For this purpose, in addition to ponder on some similarities, I will analyze and contrast two songs by the Chilean musician Violeta Parra (Maldigo del alto cielo and Volver a los 17) with the psalms 143 and 148.