The following is a post by Catalina Gómez, Reference Librarian and Curator of the PALABRA Archive in the Latin American, Caribbean and European Division. Click here to read in Spanish.
Following its annual National Hispanic Heritage Month tradition, the Hispanic Reading Room in the Latin American, Caribbean and European division (LAC&E) announces the digital release of 50 new streaming audio recordings in the PALABRA Archive — the Library’s treasure trove of recordings of 20th and 21st century Luso-Hispanic poets and writers reading from their works. With recorded authors from all over Latin America, Spain, Portugal, the Caribbean, and other regions with Hispanic and Portuguese heritage populations, the PALABRA Archive, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, includes close to 850 recordings, a growing portion of which are available for online streaming.
The newly released batch includes recently recorded sessions and some historic gems. Among these are a reading with the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Meg Medina (the first Latina YA author to hold this position), and an interview with Mexican author and journalist Elena Poniatowska. Conducted in March of 2023 in her residence in Mexico City by American writer Alice Driver, this conversation with the 91-year-old French-born Mexican icon and the second recording of hers for the PALABRA Archive is a huge achievement for the collection. In the interview, Poniatowska’s reflects on her remarkable journey, as well as on her unique interplay between fiction and journalism and her life-long dedication to documenting the lives of women.
Other recordings being released this year include a 1960 reading with the prominent Venezuelan writer and statesman Rómulo Gallegos (1884-1969), as well a reading with the famed Chilean writer Isabel Allende reading from The House of the Spirits, which is considered her most popular novel. In the batch, five new recordings with Indigenous poets from Nahua, Mixtec and Zapotec communities in Mexico are also included; and for the first time, PALABRA has added the voice of a member of the Wayuu Indigenous group, a community from the Guajira Peninsula in the northernmost part of Colombia. This recording with teacher and writer Rafael Mercado, was made possible thanks to a collaboration between the Library of Congress Hispanic Reading Room and the Instituto Caro y Cuervo in Bogota, Colombia, a center for the promotion of Colombian and Spanish-language literature, philology and linguistics.
Last but not least, the group is full of surprises in the Portuguese-language arena. The new batch includes a historic recording with Brazilian playwright Ariano Suassuna (1927-2014), considered one of Brazil’s greatest playwrights and the force behind the “Movimento Armorial” (Armorial Movement). It also includes a recently recorded reading and conversation with Brazilian poet Salgado Maranhão, who, alongside longtime friend and translator Alexis Levitin, read from Maranhão’s work in Portuguese and English; and a session with the award-winning Portuguese poet, Ana Luisa Amaral.
Click here to see the complete list of newly available recordings. We hope you enjoy our new digital treasures!
PALABRA has been curated by the Library of Congress Hispanic Reading Room and continues recording the voices contemporary literary figures. Throughout its history, writers such as Nobel Laureates Gabriel García Márquez, Pablo Neruda, Gabriela Mistral, Miguel Ángel Asturias, and Juan Ramón Jiménez have been recorded for the collection, as well as other noteworthy figures like Jorge Luis Borges, and Julio Cortázar.