A student from Mexico City consults another from Las Vegas on a passage in Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby,” occasionally glancing at Google Translate on a laptop.
El Paso’s Masters of Fine Arts program, started in 2006, draws mostly local residents from both sides of the border.
Collectively, the programs could play a significant role in developing young writers who publicly voice varied aspects of the Hispanic experience.•The Juárez-El Paso geography — two communities intertwined culturally and economically, separated by a parched Rio Grande barely waist deep — is a topic the students and professors have explored in their literary work. She projected on a screen a copy of the poem, hand-edited by classmates, and an English translation, pointing out to the audience phrases she had originally conceived in English.“Spanish, and the way it’s used to create music in poetry, differs radically in terms of syllables and rhyme,” she discovered. programs did not recognize the Spanish-speaking side of their identities, either by assigning Latino authors or by supporting the Spanish element of their work. Cisneros, who is Mexican-American, described an interaction with her thesis adviser at the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop when she began writing “The House on Mango Street.”She had written the novella in English but inflected it with Spanish phrasings.
Perhaps the starkest difference between the cities is the drug-related violence on the Juárez side, which they depict with disturbing visceral images and blunt, uncensored vocabulary. “It was a humbling workshop for me, but an enlightening one, too.”Ms. The adviser criticized her for overusing the word “little,” unaware how frequently the suffix “ito” — for little or cute — is used in Spanish.
“They have to make the effort to bridge the gap,” said the director, José de Piérola.
Mfa Creative Writing New York
“It can be a shock to be stressed in this way, but it makes you grow.”In one of Mr.
de Piérola’s workshops, a student who spoke little Spanish led a group critique of a student’s short story.
The story was in English, but he could not understand the group members who spoke in Spanish, and had to turn for explanations to fully bilingual classmates.
“I’ll speak in English and they’ll speak in Spanish,” said Daniel Chacón, one of 10 faculty members.
“Then I might reiterate and clarify in Spanish.”Whatever their level of proficiency, students must grapple with both languages.