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Interview to Margarita Feliciano: 21st Festival of Images and Words

The Festival of Images and Words or as it is known in Spanish, Festival de la Palabra y de la Imagen, is on its 21st year. The festival is a celebration of literary works in the Spanish language. It also gives non-speakers the chance to enjoy and learn about various works that have been translated into French and English. Last week, the Festival had its launch at York University’s Glendon College.

I was fortunate to talk with Margarita Feliciano, one of the founding members of the Celebración Cultural del Idioma EspañolCultural Celebration of the Spanish Language (CCIE), the association that has presented the festival every year since it began in 1992. Margarita graciously shared some historical information with me about El Festival and how it has changed over the years.

AG: For those who are new to the festival, could you share how the festival began in the early 90’s and its main goal?

Margarita: The festival was an initiative of the Mexican and Spanish Consulates back in 1992. Its aim has always been to keep Spanish language alive in Canada. With other consulate offices getting involved along the way, the Festival has expanded. However, members of the core group are still involved. The objective is to educate people about our language and culture; we’d certainly like to see Hispanic culture in mainstream Canada.

AG: How has the Festival progressed and who is your main audience?

Margarita: The Festival has progressed as more people from Latin America have emigrated to Canada. I used to teach a course at York University about social identity for students of Latin American background. I believe we need to know where you come from to know where you’re going. This is also reflected in the audiences attending the festival now. As more Spanish-speaking people have moved here, the audiences are larger and reflect these changes in migration.

For my Spanish-speaking readers… AG: Para nosotros de habla hispana, cómo logramos que nuestra gente aprenda más acerca de nuestra cultura literaria y artística en general?

Margarita: Bueno, nosotros más que nada queremos invitar a toda la gente de habla hispana que comparta con nosotros en este festival. Aunque haya dificultades en vivir en un país nuevo, nuestra cultura tiene much valor. Pienso que nuestro festival es otra manera de abrirse. Y también pienso que no podemos limitarnos sólo al español. Por eso incluímos libros y presentaciones en inglés y en francés también. Nuestra manera de ver las cosas es que tenemos que saber navegar los diferentes idiomas en Canadá y a la vez, añadir otro aspecto a nuestra identidad. We also spoke about the importance of younger generations to learn their parents’ language in order to sustain their culture. As well, Margarita reminded me the theme for this year is “On Diasporas and Returns.” The theme reflects the many who’ve left their home countries many years ago and how some have also returned after such a long time. For writers, especially, it has given them the opportunity to have their home audiences reconnect with their work.

The festival continues with several events and runs until November 17th. Here are a few of the events you can attend in the next few weeks.

October 6, from 1:30pm to 6:00pm York Hall, Room A102 Literary Presentations: Jorge Etcheverry (Chile – Canada) “La diáspora literaria chilena: Excepción y Regla” Laura Hernández (Mexico) “Español del éxodo de ayer: palabra, color e imagen; León Felipe, Remedios Varo, Luís Buñuel” Celia Vázquez (Spain) “Las mujeres gallegas en la emigración:” followed by a bilingual (English – Spanish) reading of poems of Robert Lewis Stevenson Ramón Sepúlveda (Chile – Canada) Literary Presentation Book Launchings: “Spirales” (French version) / “Spirals” (English version), a novel by Javier Mosquera Saravia (Guatemala) “Balas Perdidas” and “Yo No Soy Quien” by Manuel Jofré (Chile)

October 25 and October 26, from 7:30pm to 10:00pm York Hall, Room A100 Presentation of the play “M.O.A.R.” (Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero) (In Spanish, with English and French translations) Director and Presenter: Oscar Ortiz, Double-Double Performing Arts Discussant: Claudio Kuczer

November 10, 1:30pm to 5:00pm Toronto Women’s Bookstore Book Launchings: “Margarita Feliciano: De Amante a Metafísica” (Symposium Proceedings)

“Other Latitudes: Argentinian Voices Around the 49th Parallel”, published originally in Spanish under the title of “Otras Latitudes: Voces argentinas alrededor del Paralelo 49”

Contributors: Guillermo Bañuelos, Natalia Crespo, Margarita Feliciano, Julián Fernández, Claudio A. Kuczer, Nela Rio, María Del Carmen Sillato, Pablo Urbanyi, Marilyn Westlake (Photography)

“Seven Princes” published originally in Spanish, under the title of “Siete Príncipes”, by Julián Fernández


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