Poetry, Art, and Nature: Concepción

For the next ten days I will be traveling to the south of Chile. There are many reasons for this trip: school visits, a book fair, networking, and differentiating findings for my Fulbright project. Plus, I can use some fresh air outside of Santiago.

My first stop is Concepción, a city 50 minutes away from Santiago [by plane]. 

I highly recommend Sky Airlines-  reasonable pricing, on time, and, most importantly, a smooth landing! 

I highly recommend Sky Airlines-  reasonable pricing, on time, and, most importantly, a smooth landing! 

I travelled to Concepción to attend a book fair and to meet Taty Torres, an author and poet, and Miriam Leiva, also an author and poet. I also was hoping to visit some schools but that didn't happen. Instead, I attended various events, poetry readings, book talks, question and answer sessions, and mingled with editorials and introduced myself and my project to authors and anyone else who was willing to listen.

I chose to travel to Concepción on 'Censo 2017' Day- a public holiday. The government made it a public holiday so that folks can stay home and be counted. There were 'censistas' at airports, bus stations, and hospitals. Getting to Concepción was a breeze. However, when I got here, I realized: I may not eat today. Why? Because everything is closed. And I'm talking everything except most vital establishments [think hospitals/toll booths/airports]. 

So, what's a girl to do? Checked into the hotel. The city is dead.

Rainy Concepción on Censo Day

Rainy Concepción on Censo Day

After roaming around the city for a half hour, I was getting kind of desperate. I had a good, big breakfast at the airport and finished my cookies and apples I brought with me. Then, I see El Araucano hotel, flags upfront, lights on. Looks expensive. And opened. Make my way in: "Do you folks have a restaurant in this hotel that's opened right now?" "Oh yes, 3rd floor." And that's how I got lunch and dinner.  

Day 2

Meeting authors, the Book Fair, and Poetry Readings

This book is called "Soñé" and has been created by a student. It's about what the student dreamed about and how it looked like (includes her drawings and blurbs describing the drawings].

This book is called "Soñé" and has been created by a student. It's about what the student dreamed about and how it looked like (includes her drawings and blurbs describing the drawings].

Day 2 was packed with events and readings. 

Miriam Leiva and Taty Torres Díaz (both poetisas) took me with them on various talks, author presentations, and the Book Expo.

  • Met many authors (that write both poetry and prose), and are involved with various initiatives to promote reading among your people. For instance, Jairo Guzman from Colombia (Proyecto Gulliver) and Augustin Rodriguez from Ecuador (Literatura en Movimiento) talked about how they promote reading with secondary school students, how they train teachers, and how they maintain momentum. I made sure I talked with them both to get more information and tell them about my Fulbright project.
  • Feria del Libro: was much smaller than I expected [compared to the book expos in the States]. I took the time to talk to multiple editorials that were represented – caligrafix.cl – gave me some samples to take with me. Caligrafix does NOT sell in the U.S. which is a shame. Not sure what we can do to get 25 class copies of something...
  • Also during Feria del Libro I had the honor to witness some beautiful poetry readings by both up and coming and established authors. Some authors were brand new and just started, and others have been writing for some time. Talked to some authors personally to congratulate them and introduce myself and the project. 

Day 3

The Sanctuary

Day 3 was sunny and beautiful. I woke up, had breakfast, looked at the map, found a green space, and said: "I'm going there!" I just had to get out of the city for a while, so I went to Hualpén Nature Sanctuary, about 1 hour bus ride from Concepción. 


After the sanctuary I wanted to visit the art museum located on the University of Concepción main campus. There were quite a few [unexpected] highlights at this museum.

The Mural

Right when you walk in, you are greeted by an enormous mural. You feel tiny and...bad. Why do you feel bad? Because the mural is dedicated to the atrocities that happened to indigenous population during the [mainly Spanish] conquest. A bleeding nopal cactus with knives sticking out of it? Check. A pyramid build on top of indigenous bodies? Check. A desperate face of a Maya, Inca, Aztec, or Arauco warrior? Check. A gorgeous [albeit nude] indigenous woman next to a Spanish conquistador? Also check. 

The mural is hauntingly beautiful.

“Presencia del America Latina”- a panoramic view

“Presencia del America Latina”- a panoramic view

And here are some fragments of the mural.

Over the mural, there is one sentence, extracted from the poet by Pablo Neruda.

…There is no beauty like the beauty of America spread out in its hells / in its mountains of rock and power, in its atavistic and eternal rivers…

…Y no hay belleza como esta belleza de América extendida en sus infiernos / en sus cerros de piedra y poderío, en sus ríos atávicos y eternos…

In addition to this striking mural the pitacoteca holds art by many 19th and 20th century Chilean painters: Pedro Lira, Jose Tomas Errazuríz, Celia Castro, Magdalena Mira, Antonio Smith. This can be used in our art unit in 6th grade.

Lastly, Pinacoteca had a very interesting expo of modern art as well, mainly comprised with Rodrigo Cociña’s art. Made with frames, recycled materials, like combs, utensils, food(!), and other random items.

Bottom left corner: a dried bread bun. I think.

Bottom left corner: a dried bread bun. I think.

Back to Feria in the evening. Poetry reading by Karina Kapitana and Cristian Condemarzo. Karina’s poetry was hauntingly beautiful; a lot about being a woman, being of mixed race, love, affection, and heartbreak. Cristian’s poetry was raw in a way that he used harsh words like puta, mierda, maricón, and others. But the message he was trying to get across was very strong.