Magdalena Gomez gives powerful presentation in Student Union Theatre
Published: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 10, 2013 00:10
On Wednesday, the UConn Student Union Theater was captivated by the words of Magdalena Gomez. In a performance brought to UConn by PRLACC, El Instituto, Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies Institute, and others, “An Evening with Magdalena Gomez” welcomed students to celebrate a fruitful life, and an illustrious career. With success as a poet, playwright, performer and writer, Gomez is a renaissance woman in every sense of the word. The reason for the event was to publicize the recent transaction between Gomez and UConn of a selection of never-before-seen poems from her upcoming anthology. It was a type of pre-release party, similar to what music artists might hold weeks before an album is released.
The evening got under way following an introduction from Marisol Ramos, curator of the Latin American and Caribbean Collections, and remarks from Roger Buckley, professor of history, and Maria Luisa Arroyo, a poet and educator. Speaking about the first time he saw Gomez, Buckley said, “She came at us relentlessly with her words and her actions…I remember feeling a shortness of breath following the performance.” Friendly jabbing and side-humor made up most of the opening remarks, highlighting the genuine friendship between Gomez and her introducers. To close, “Magdalena is incredibly creative, spiritual, and a real human-activist,” said Buckley.
Gomez thanked each speaker with a kiss on the lips, then took the stage and did not wait one second to capture all eyes and ears. She wore a black stylish fedora and donned ethnic jewelry from neck to sandal-enclosed toes. With her first words the audience could sense her strength. Gomez touched on her background, growing up as a Latina in a racially charged neighborhood. The immediate message of equality was projected, “We need to say with our actions, when we meet someone, I see you, and I understand you. Even if you don’t know anything about them, because feeling an understanding will come soon.”
The performance seamlessly jumped from explicit discussion, to personal stories, eventually breaking out in inspiring poetry. With much laughter and support, Gomez bashed the habit of texting, social networking and sending electronic messages over personal communication. She spoke on the current state of media and its messages, saying “Divide and conquer is constantly happening, let’s have them (young people) watch reality TV shows, so they will be distracted from the real reality.” In an excerpt from a poem about a girl and her search for self-identity, Gomez makes clear that “There is no such thing as English only.”
By the end, a motif was evident, and that was to not exclude yourself from any culture, people, or lifestyle, because we all share the unbreakable bond of being human. She warns the audience to not just be interesting, but be interested. The interested person allows himself/herself to absorb and in turn, become more interesting. Two exhibits featuring Magdalena’s props, puppets and manuscripts selected from her collection are available for viewing at the McDonald Reading Room, Thomas J. Dodd Center, Sept. 23. until Oct. 15.