December 3, 2018 at 1:29 pm

Figueroa Authors Collection of Stories about Puerto Rican Traditions

Dr. Melissa Figueroa, Assistant Professor of Spanish in the Modern Languages Department, published a collection of short stories titled Nota de duelo (Mourning Note) in ArtePoética Press, a New York-based publishing company that specializes in literature written in Spanish in the United States.

book cover for Melissa Figueroa's Nota de duelo The stories are about Puerto Rican traditions that have been lost or are disappearing. These 15 narrations combine fiction, history, and humor in order to explore culture from a literary point of view. Despite the interest in examining traditions, the book is not anchored in nostalgia nor is it an anthropological treatise. Instead, the stories can be read as a testimony of the monstrosity of some cultural practices.

“I am happy to complete this project. For me, writing these stories has been a tool to understand my country and its complex political, social, and economic situation. I wanted to rescue the stories of people I know and grasp the consequences of progress in my hometown. I was deeply influenced by Walter Benjamin’s essay ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History,’ which describes history as an angel moved by progress, with a fixed view in the past, but moved violently to the future by the storm of progress,” says Figueroa.

She is pleased to have several colleagues who also are creative writers.

Dr. Melissa Figueroa, portrait

Dr. Melissa Figueroa

“I am fortunate to be in a place that values literary criticism and creative writing. For me, these two activities complement each other. I am blessed to work under the mentorship of the Puerto Rican novelist and poet, Dr. Daniel Torres, Professor of Spanish. I am glad to share stories about Puerto Rico with the writer Dr. José Delgado, Professor of Spanish. In addition, I am grateful to Dr. Amado Láscar, Associate Professor of Spanish. This semester, he invited me to a literary workshop to collaborate with students. Thanks to him, I was able to present my work in New York and meet my editor in person.”

The Modern Languages Department has organized several creative writing readings this year as a way to promote different languages and create opportunities for students to improve their speaking skills. Currently, Delgado, Láscar, and Dr. Betsy Partyka are working to establish a Creative Writing Certificate. The department chair, Dr. Chris Coski, has been incredibly supportive of these initiatives,” Figueroa notes.

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