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Posts under tag: Mapuche

January 27, 2018

Homage to Nicanor Parra: Poetry Readings by Jesús Sepúlveda, from Cartagena to Santiago and Wallmapu

RL Spanish Creative Writing Instructor Jesús Sepúlveda did not have a chance to say goodbye to his mentor Nicanor Parra who just passed away on January 23, but his legacy was very much present when Sepúlveda gave a poetry reading at the Sociedad de Escritores de Chile (SECH) in Santiago, Chile on December 21, 2017. Organized and led by SECH president Carmen Berenguer, the reading began with five contemporary Chilean poets, then featured Sepúlveda’s forthcoming poetry collection, Espejo de los detalles, coming out in fall 2018 with Cuarto Propio. In her introduction, Carmen Berenguer drew the arc of Sepúlveda’s poetic evolution from his first collection, Lugar de origen (1987), which began the lifelong friendship with Parra, to the current volume. The reading was particularly moving and a great honor for Sepúlveda, whose last reading at the SECH dated from 1988, the year of the Chilean national plebiscite that marked the end of the dictatorship.


Alberto Moreno, Sepúlveda, & Berenguer at the SECH in Santiago 12/21/2018

Sepúlveda also visited a coastal Mapuche community or lafkenche, in Wallmapu on the shore of Lago Budi, some 500 miles south of Santiago. As the largest saltwater lake in South America, the site boasts a rich ecosystem and deep cultural and agricultural practices. He shared his poems during a trawün (assembly) that took place inside a ruka, the traditional thatched dwelling. The community listened without applauding, sometimes commenting between poems. At the very end, an enthusiastic afafán resonated—the traditional vocal crescendo of approval. The head of the community (el werkén del lof) shared two sung poems or ül in Mapudungun. The trip also included visits to the community-run school; a greenhouse propagating native plants; an organic farm; and a women-run handicraft workshop. The visit took place under the auspices of Maple, a micro-development organization based in Eugene, whose Chilean delegates (Viviana Calfuqueo Canuinir, Fernando Quilaqueo, UO alumnus Ignacio A Krell, and Alison Guzman) came to the UO in fall 2017.

Sepúlveda in front of the rukas of the Mapuche-Lafkenche community of Llaguepulli 12/2018

Prior to his visit to his native Santiago, Sepúlveda was invited to the 21st International Poetry Festival of Cartagena, Colombia, on December 1-4, 2017. Festival organizer Martín Salas brought the participants to a wonderful array of venues and in front of receptive audiences across the city: Sepúlveda and fellow poets from Spain and Uruguay read to the faculty and students/performers of a philharmonic orchestra in a suburban high school, the Escuela de Música de Comfenalco; they, in turn, gave a spirited and memorable performance of Duke Ellington’s greatest hits. The following morning, readings took place in the library of the Universidad de Cartagena. Next came “transpoesía:” during rush hour the travelling poets read in a crowded commuter bus to the surprise and amusement of passengers. The closing grand gala took place in the historic Teatro Adolfo Mejía.

Escuela de Música de Comfenalco Cartagena 12/1/2018

Back in the classroom, Sepúlveda shares with his UO students a practice of writing (academic and creative Spanish) rooted in these poetic experiences and encounters, often tapping his network of international fellow poets for skype sessions or to recount personal memories. This quarter, Nicanor Para passed away the very day that his poems had been assigned reading in SPAN 410 and SPAN 311.

March 11, 2016

Spanish Major Delaney Swink learns about Mapuche culture in Chile

swink 01Last semester Spanish Major Delaney Swink lived in Chile, studying for the first half of this academic year at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso. In Valparaiso she was able to get involved in the community, volunteering with an organization called Hogar de Cristo, distributing hot and ready meals to the homeless around the city, directly to the places they sleep on the streets, creating opportunity to speak with people and gain perspective.

At the end of the semester Swink traveled to the south of Chile to work with an NGO called Maple Microdevelopment (founded by UO alumni) to learn about their micro-lending organization. In just one week, Swink was able to participate in the day-to-day lives of three Mapuche (indigenous people from Chile) families, scraping the surface of understanding some of the issues they face, and observing firsthand how Maple is becoming an integral factor in helping Mapuche families revive their culture and develop their community in ways that fit their community goals. Maple was an inspiration to Swink, who says that it was

“a model for how I would want to run my own nonprofit if provided the opportunity; respect for the needs of the community above all.”

Read more about Swink’s experience in Chile:

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