San José, Calif.—Sept. 23, 2011—Internationally acclaimed Mexican author Elena Poniatowska spoke Sept. 22 about “Literature that Rises from the Street” at The National Hispanic University (NHU) where she received an honorary doctoral degree from the university. A student at the university was also named the first beneficiary of the school’s Elena Poniatowska Civic Leadership Scholarship.
Poniatowska shared stories and experiences that came from her own documentary and journalistic work during the presentation on “La Literatura Que Sube de la Calle” or “Literature that Rises From the Street.” Poniatowska spoke about giving a voice to the victims and participants of some of Mexico’s upheavals over the past decades: The confrontation between students and government armed forces in 1968, the earthquake of 1985 that left thousands of people dead and the revolutionary leftist Zapatista uprising of 1994.
“Those who do not have a voice are those who possess the most powerful voice because it is unknown, unlikely…terrifying and unpredictable – a voice that has not been parsed by formalisms, a voice whose only modulation is the earth,” she said. “The literature that rises from the streets responds to a necessity, it reveals and documents the hidden, it writes the story of those who apparently don’t have one.”
Poniatowska encouraged students at The National Hispanic University to share their own stories and to give voice to those who are afraid to speak themselves. She said she was impressed by the warmth of students and faculty at The National Hispanic University. “They have left me dazzled, and I feel like I’m inside a diamond – it appears to be an extraordinary place,” she said.
During the event in honor of Poniatowska, the university also announced the first recipient of a scholarship started in the name of