Renowned Author Headlines Latin American Conference April 8-9

March 24, 1999

WACO, Texas -- Internationally-known author Elena Poniatowska, the first woman to win Mexico's national award for journalism, will deliver the keynote address at the joint Laura Blanche Jackson Lectureship in World Issues and the Joseph F. Velez 11th Annual Latin American Studies Conference at Baylor University.

The topic for this year's conference is "The Politics of the Written Word in the Americas" and will include panel discussions on such topics as "The Power of the Written Word: The Fourth Estate as Observer and Political Actor in Latin America," "Fractured Images in Latin American Popular Literature," "The Politics of Non-political Writing," and others. The conference will run April 8-9.

Poniatowska, of Polish and Mexican descent, has lived in Mexico since 1942 and became a citizen of the country in 1969. The author of Noche de Tlatelolco and books of poetry, essays and art, she began her journalism career with the daily Excelsior in 1953 and has contributed articles to other major newspapers and magazines. She translated Sandra Cisneros' book, The House on Mango Street, into Spanish.

In Mexico, Poniatowska has been recognized with the Javier Villaumutia award -- a distinction she declined -- and was twice honored with the Mazatlan Award for Literature. She also is a past recipient of the El Porvenir, the Manuel Buendia and the national Juchiman awards. Her work was recognized in Colombia with the Premio Internacional Proartes and in Chile with the Gavriela Mistral award.

Poniatowska's lecture, "The Politics of Discourse Thirty Years after Tlatelolco," will focus on the student massacre in Mexico City in 1968, which has often been called "Mexico's Kent State." The lecture will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 8, in the Jesse H. Jones Theatre in the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Building on the Baylor campus.

In addition to Poniatowska's lecture, authors Rolando Hinojosa-Smith and Tony Diaz will give readings of their work. Hinojosa-Smith is the author of Ask a Policeman, Useless Servants, Partners in Crime and Los Amigos de Becky. He was selected as the Celebrity Author by Scott Foresman for his children's short story Don Bueno and Don Mala. Hinojosa-Smith will give a reading at 12:15 p.m. April 9 in the Barfield Drawing Room in the Bill Daniel Student Center.

Diaz published his first book, Aztec Love God, in 1998. The book was the winner of the 1998 Nilon Award for Excellence in Minority Fiction. Diaz, who graduated from the University of Houston, is the founder of a writers group, Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say and is writer-in-residence at the University of Houston's Center for Mexican American Studies. Diaz currently is working on a story collection titled Sombrero Hysteria and a book of essays titled The Cactus Eaters. Diaz will give a reading at 2 p.m. April 9.

Conference panel discussions will begin at 8:30 a.m. April 9 and will wrap up with a book signing at 5 p.m. All panel discussions will take place in rooms on the third floor of the Bill Daniel Student Center.

All events are free and open to the public. For a complete conference schedule, visit the conference web site at or call (254) 710-3161.

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