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Spanish department sponsors visiting Latino poet Xánath Caraza and musician Imer Santiago

Spanish department sponsors visiting Latino poet Xánath Caraza and musician Imer Santiago
Latino poet and educator Xánath Caraza reads from "Black Ink," a book of her poetry during her visit to UNG as part of National Women's History Month on March 6-7.

Xánath Caraza's advice on writing is simple — just go with the flow.

Caraza visited the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Dahlonega and Gainesville campuses March 6-7 for a series of classroom discussions, poetry-writing workshops for students and a reading of selected poems. Her visit was sponsored by the UNG Spanish department, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, the Gender Studies Council, the Latino Student Association, and the Latin American Student Organization as part of National Women's History Month.

Caraza is an internationally renowned poet and short story writer, who teaches Spanish and composition at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Her book of poetry, "Syllables of Wind," received the 2015 International Book Award for poetry. Caraza's short story collection, "What the Tide Brings," was a finalist in the fiction short story category of the 2014 International Book Award.

She was the guest speaker in Dr. Maria Calatayud's gender studies class to discuss human rights and gender and social activism. Caraza read selected poems describing violence against women in her native Mexico.

In the two hour-long poetry-writing workshops, one each on the Dahlonega and Gainesville campuses, Caraza discussed the stereotypes of Latina and Chicana women and how it affected her own writing.

“She implored the assembled students to flow with ideas, not to worry about what is important or not," said Dr. Alvaro Torres-Calderón, organizer of the events and associate professor of Spanish, who was an observer of the workshops.

"I was pleasantly surprised by the turnout at both of the workshops, considering it was about writing poetry, and that sometimes could be intimidating for some students" Torres-Calderón said. "There were about 50 students in each session, and they were most enthusiastic and receptive to her advice on writing."

Asked what she learned by the end of the hour, Madison Neese, 19, a business management major said, "I learned that it is important to put any ideas you have when beginning to write because simply having an idea in your head will not turn into poetry. It is also important to practice stream of consciousness to get ideas flowing for your writing."

On Tuesday evening Caraza held a poetry reading at the Library Technology Center on the Dahlonega Campus. She concluded her visit to UNG on Wednesday with a visit to Belkis Barrio's Spanish class to discuss the culture and civilization of Latin America with a talk titled "Reflections on Identities: The Visible and the Invisible."

Additional events observing National Women's History Month are:

  • "Reflections on #MeToo and #TimesUp" Speaker Panel: Noon, Monday, March 26 in the Student Center Dr. Herbert W. Robinson Ballroom on the Gainesville Campus; 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 27 in the Hoag Great Room in the Hoag Student Center on the Dahlonega Campus. Sponsored by the Gender Studies Council and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.
  • Women's History Month Breakfast, 9 a.m. Wednesday, March 28 in the Student Center Dr. Herbert W. Robinson Ballroom on the Gainesville Campus. Honorees are Dr. Martha Nesbitt and Sgt. 1st Class Shannon D. Clark.

Another event sponsored by the UNG Spanish department, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs as well as the Regional Arts Organization South Arts is a pair of music workshops and concerts by musician and educator Edwin Imer Santiago.

Santiago is the director of jazz bands at The Osceola County School for the Arts in Kissimmee, Florida. He is a former adjunct trumpet professor at Tennessee State University and director of the Mariachi Program for the Metro Nashville Public Schools.

On Wednesday, March 21 on the Gainesville Campus, Santiago will hold a music workshop
in Room 4105 in the Martha T. Nesbitt Academic Building from noon to 1 p.m. followed by a concert in the Student Center from 6-8 p.m.

Workshop attendees will learn that the all musical styles with Latin roots are as diverse as the many nations, cultures and ethnicities they represent. Participants will be able to identify several rhythms and musical styles, and play basic percussion in a beat native to Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Santiago will hold a second music workshop Thursday, March 22, in the Hoag Great
Room on the Dahlonega Campus, with a concert from 7-9 p.m. in the Health & Natural Sciences Building auditorium.

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