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Mexican writer headlines bilingual poetry reading
[Ryan Jones/The Daily Pennsylvanian]

"Sin Puertas Visibles' poet Ofelia Perez reads a poem in Spanish while editor and translator Jen Hofer takes notes at the Kelly Writers House. The two women presented works from the anthology of Mexican women's poetry in both Spanish and in English yesterday evening.
By pauline park
September 17, 2004

While Mexican poets such as Octavio Paz have been successful in marketing their work around the the world, others -- especially women -- have remained behind the scenes.

But at the Kelly Writers House last night, students and professors came out to show their support for Sin Puertas Visibles: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry by Mexican Women, in light of National Hispanic Heritage Month.
The one-hour event showcased the works in Sin Puertas Visibles, a book with a smattering of poems and short stories written in Spanish by 11 different authors and translated into English.

The main speaker of the night was Ofelia Perez Sepulveda, a northern Mexican poet and self-proclaimed writer and producer originally from Guadalupe, Nuevo León. Since Sepulveda only speaks Spanish, she was accompanied by a translator, Jen Hofer, which allowed for the poetry to be accessible to a wider audience base. Hofer was also the person who edited and translated all the poems in Sin Puertas Visibles.

From a single blue podium, Sepulveda read some of her works, such as "Image of the Fish," as well as works by others who are also featured in the book, including Cristina Rivera-Garza's "Third World" and a piece by Maria Rivera.
After Sepulveda finished reading an entire piece in Spanish, Hofer followed with the English translation. The alternation and interweaving of the two languages allowed for a shared cultural experience.

"The breath and rhythm of these poems are important to me," Sepulveda said through Hofer's translation. "I express rhythms by breaking [between English and Spanish], and mold each poem this way." For Sepulveda, the most important aspect of poetry is the interaction and responses poets have to each other. She said the contrasts between certain poets allows for "a greater understanding of Mexican words."

In a field dominated by males, Sepulveda and other female Mexican poets are paving the way for other women to join their ranks by publishing all-female anthologies, such as Sin Puertas Visibles. "It's wonderful to hear contemporary writing from a Mexican woman," College senior Julija Zubac said. "It gives insight [into] one aspect of society that the author is from and [into Sepulveda]. Poetry is like a form of prayer."

This marks the first event this semester in a series of poetry readings at the Writers House. Director Jennifer Snead said she was pleased with the outcome of the reading. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Writers House staff will also be collaborating with Casa de Los Soles, a Mexican community center in South Philadelphia.

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