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PALABRA Archive Launches 50 Previously Unpublished Audio Recordings

(The following is a post by Catalina Gómez, Reference Librarian in the Hispanic Reading Room.)

The Hispanic Reading Room is happy to announce the release of 50 previously unpublished recordings from the PALABRA Archive for online streaming. Every year, as is tradition, a brand new batch of material from this historic literary collection is made available for online listeners worldwide during National Hispanic Heritage Month, which spans from September 15 to October 15. With this new launch, 370 of the archive’s 818 recorded sessions are now accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

Logo of the PALABRA Archive. Text reads PALABRA Archive 2021 digital release

PALABRA Archive. Library of Congress Hispanic Reading Room.

This year’s batch of recordings includes a wonderful array of literary figures from all over Latin America, the U.S., the Iberian Peninsula, and the Caribbean, including award-winning Mexican author Elena Poniatowska; esteemed Cuban-American author, poet, and anthropologist Ruth Behar; and renowned Portuguese author Dulce María Cardoso.

Also included in this new group of recordings is a rare interview by Scottish poet, scholar, and translator Alastair Reid with Jorge Luis Borges. One of four recordings that Borges did for the archive, the interview was recorded during his last visit to the Library in 1984, two years before his death. Offering a valuable addition to the history of Luso-Hispanic studies and the history of the Library, another recorded interview features preeminent historian Lewis Hanke discussing his roles as the first director of the Hispanic Foundation (now the Hispanic Reading Room) of the Library of Congress and the founding editor of the Handbook of Latin American Studies.

The PALABRA Archive is a collection of original audio recordings of 20th- and 21st-century Luso-Hispanic poets and writers reading from their works. With recorded authors from all over Latin America, the Iberian Peninsula, the Caribbean, and other regions with Hispanic and Portuguese heritage populations, the archive has to date more than 800 recordings, a portion of which are available for online streaming.

Historically known as the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape (AHLOT), PALABRA has been curated by the Library of Congress Hispanic Reading Room since 1943. It includes sessions with figures such as Nobel Laureates Gabriel García Márquez, Pablo Neruda, Gabriela Mistral, Juan Ramón Jiménez, and with other noteworthy figures like Jorge Luis Borges, Isabel Allende, and Julio Cortázar.

The majority of the recordings from this collection are in Spanish, English and Portuguese, but the archive also includes sessions in Catalan, Basque, French, Dutch, Creole and Indigenous languages, including Náhuatl, Zapotec, Quechua, and Aymara. Today, curators in the Hispanic Reading Room continue to capture voices of contemporary literary figures for the collection.

We hope you enjoy our 2021 release!

Expanding the Borders of Art: Creative Collaborations with the MexiCali Biennial

The Library of Congress Hispanic Reading Room is joining forces with the MexiCali Biennial to develop a series of electronic resources exploring Border art, artists, and Borderland studies. This blog covers the history of the MexiCali Biennial, including their mission and past exhibitions, and outlines the projects to come.

Cordel and Caribbean Poetry: Showcasing the Brazilian and Caribbean Collections

The Summer 2021 Junior Fellows who interned virtually with the Hispanic Reading Room shone a light on Caribbean women poets featured in the PALABRA Archive and contextualized Brazilian cordel through audio recordings of Brazilian artist J. Borges and photographic images of Andre Cypriano.

Cordel, crafts, cooking and Caribbean poets: Meet the Hispanic Reading Room Junior Fellows

Each summer, a talented and motivated group of Junior Fellows brings fresh eyes and enthusiasm to projects around the Library of Congress. Three Junior Fellows interning virtually with the Hispanic Division will explore the Library’s Brazilian cordel and the PALABRA Archive recordings of women writers, helping to provide digital access to these unique collections.

Celebrating Indigenous Voices: New Poetry and Literature Recordings in the PALABRA Archive

The Hispanic Reading Room of the Library of Congress launches The PALABRA Indigenous Voices Project, a new initiative to increase the presence of Indigenous poetry and literature in the historic PALABRA Archive. Through partnerships with scholars and organizations with direct access to Indigenous communities around Latin America, curators hope to shine a light on a formerly under-represented group in this collection.

Luminarias: Celebrating Latinas Who Inspire Us

To commemorate Women’s History Month, we celebrate Latina Luminarias–Mexican revolutionary soldaderas; activists Jovita Idar, Luisa Moreno, Sylvia Rivera, and Antonia Hernández; librarian Pura Belpré; singers Celia Cruz and Joan Baez, and writer Kali Fajardo-Anstine–women whose leadership and achievements lit the way and inspired others to follow their own bright paths.