Celebrated human rights activist and poet comes to York

One of the most versatile and provocative Latin American writers is on her way to York University. The celebrated poet Marjorie Agosin (right), human rights activist and professor of Spanish at Wellesley College, will deliver a lecture and poetry reading titled “Poetry as agency for human rights, human rights in Latin America, the role of memory” on Thursday, March 23.

The descendant of Russian and Austrian Jews who suffered in the pogroms and the Holocaust, Agosin was raised in Santiago de Chile. At the age of 16, she fled to the United States, escaping the military coup that would overthrow the Socialist government of Salvador Allende. Her poetry of exile has frequently addressed the disturbing political realities in Chile. Tapestries of Hope, Threads of Love (1996), for example, details the harrowing life of women living under the Pinocet dictatorship.

Much of Agosin’s poetry has also traced the remarkable complexities of her ethnic heritage. Dear Anne Frank (1994), a recent collection of bilingual poems, focuses on the Jewish teenager who perished in the death camps of Bergen-Belsen. Agosin’s innovative A Cross and a Star: Memoirs of a Jewish Girl in Chile (1995) blends together the voices of mother and daughter, while Always from Somewhere Else (1998) offers a poignant remembrance of her father. Agosin’s collection of new and selected poems, At the Threshold of Memory (2003), pulls together much of her award-winning work.

Agosin has won numerous awards for her human rights work, including the Good Neighbor Award, given by the US National Conference of Christians and Jews (now the National Conference for Community and Justice), and the Jeanette Rankin Award. In 1995, she received two prestigious literary prizes given to Latino writers: the Letras de Oro Prize and the Latino Literature Prize. She has written almost 20 books of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and essays.

Agosin will speak on Thursday, March 23 between 1:30 and 3:30pm in the Vanier Senior Common Room (010) in Vanier College, as a part of the Writers Without Borders speaker series, sponsored by the Faculty of Education and the Centre for Feminist Research. All interested students and faculty are invited to attend.

For further information about this event and the speaker series contact Rishma Dunlop at rdunlop@edu.yorku.ca or call ext. 55002.