Sponsored by Letras Latinas, the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies, the José E. Fernández Hispanic Studies Caribbean Initiative, and the Creative Writing Program, “Western Avenue: Fred Arroyo reads from his fiction,” was—with standing-room only—nothing short than a success. According to Gilberto Cárdenas—the founding director of the Institute for Latino Studies—this event by Fred Arroyo was the best attended reading he has seen at McKenna Hall.
Fred Arroyo’s first visit to Notre Dame back in 2009 had previously coincided with a cafecito charla at the Institute for Latino Studies (ILS). Where ILS staff were giving the opportunity to read Fred’s debut novel The Region of Lost Names (2008) and participate in a discussion with the author. And finally, Fred participated in Letras Latinas’ Oral History Project where he was interviewed. A moving re-cap of that conversation can be found here.
In this, his latest visit, Fred was able to meet and dine with poets and fiction writers from Notre Dame’s MFA program. Prior to the reading itself, Fred Arroyo also met with undergraduate students in Professor Marisel Moreno’s “Migrant Voices” class where Western Avenue and Other Fictions (2012) was being read and of course gave a succinct and lyric reading of his newly released collection of short stories Western Avenue and Other Fictions (2012).
Speaking of the mano de obra, the unknown laborer whose hands helped to build the brilliance of our world, the Argentine poet Juan Gelman once wrote: “Studying history, dates, battles, letters written in stone… I see only dark, metallurgical, mining, sewing…slaves’ hands…they died and their fingernails still grew.” If history is that which is written to commemorate the deeds of the powerful, than memory is the fingernail by which the oppressed etch their own history.
“Memory,” Fred Arroyo’s work seems to drench the air with this word whenever he speaks or reads about the working-class characters and immigrants that inhabit the cities—the “avenues”—they helped build but which often negate their existence.
In Western Avenue, Fred Arroyo serves as the bringer of good news. As memory’s postman, Fred Arroyo, resurrects the unknown laborers’ hands and delivers letters written across time and space, the places where those hands “will not meet” but where they shall write each others’ lives again.
The following is a photo gallery of the event:
|Fred Arroyo with MFA students Lynda Letona, Meg Brandl and Jenica Moore|
|Professor Marisel Moreno interviewing Fred Arroyo|
|Professor Marisel Moreno and Fred Arroyo|
|Fred Arroyo in the undergraduate class "Migrant Voices"|
|The gathering crowd.|
|Standing at the podium.|
|Fred Arroyo signs a few books.|