“What is important-what lasts-in another language is not what is said but what is written. For the essence of an age, we look to its poetry and its prose, not its talk shows.”– Peter Brodie
Award-winning Latino poet Maurice Kilwein Guevara will be featured Oct. 16, in the auditorium of the Smith-Hutson Business Building as part of an annual reading series in Creative Writing. A reception will follow the reading for those attending.”He combines Spanish and English, and a wonderful sense of humor, as well as depth and beauty,” said Dr. Melissa Morphew, English professor. “We’re very excited about this.” Kilwein Guevara’s presentation comes at the end of SHSU’s observation of Hispanic Heritage month. Morphew worked with Dr. Kandi Tayebi, English professor, to get Kilwein Guevara here through the Associated Writing Program, which compiles a list of authors willing to be featured at different college campuses at a fraction of what it would normally cost for them to attend.”We asked for a dynamic reader. I’ve read his poems and liked them,” Morphew said.Kilwein Guevara is described as a performance poet, meaning he does more than just simply read his poetry to listeners. He said, when attending poetry readings, he found that “modern poets seemed to deliberately dampen the musical range. All the poets sounded the same: monotonous.””I deliberately reacted against it,” Kilwein Guevara said. He later saw a “lively and interesting style” in poets such as Quincy Troupe and came to appreciate how poetry connected to music and song.”The roll of the poet is to make the audience feel, participate with mind and body,” Kilwein Guevara said. “I’d be happy if people left excited and interested about language, and about writing their own poetry.”Kilwein Guevara’s poetry is written in Spanish and English, incorporating both languages into some poems. He said he gets his inspiration from personal events, the experience of friends and as a response to things he reads. “Nin_a”, a poem from his second book, is about his mother and one of her friends going shopping in Pittsburgh the day after two young Latino men robbed a store.”They decided they shouldn’t speak Spanish, as to not be confused with those men,” he said. “But they are both from South America, so they wind up speaking Spanglish, a mixture of Spanish and English. Both languages are in that poem.”Another poem from his book “Postmortem” came after reading an article discussing how vampire bats share food and relate within communities. “I thought the sharing mechanism within the group was an interesting emblem for cooperation in the human world,” he said.The writing series is funded by the College of Arts and Sciences. Dean Chapman approved funding for this reading after the success of a similar event during the spring.”The response to Allison Joseph’s reading was more than expected; we were thrilled,” said Morphew. ” We’re hoping for the same sort of response. Poetry can be as funny, dramatic, and interesting as TV.”Morphew also said that the readings are in conjunction with the school’s mission of “closing the gaps” by bringing more of a minority presence to campus and retaining more first generation college students.”These are people who started out as a lot of our students have, and poetry inspired them to continue on to graduate school. Other people who have thought, ‘Oh, no, I can’t do this’, can meet people who have been in the same situation and be inspired.”Kilwein Guevara was born in Belencito, Colombia in 1961 and raised in Pittsburgh, Penn. He received his education at the University of Pittsburgh, Bowling Green State University and the University of Wisconsin, and is currently professor of English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.Kilwein Guevara has received awards from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the J. William Fullbright Commission, and the Pennsylvania Humanities Council.His books include “Postmortem”, “Poems of the River Spirit” and “Autobiography of So-and-So: Poems in Prose”. His work has also appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies.A writing workshop with Kilwein Guevara will be held on Thursday following the reading. Students interested in attending the workshop should contact Morphew at 294-1944.