The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture and the Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives announce a lecture entitled “The Journey from Silence to Voice: The Portuguese-American Writer in Search of Themes and Audience” by the writer Frank X. Gaspar. The lecture–free and open to the public and including a wine-and-cheese reception–will be held in the Archives at the Claire T. Carney Library on Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 5 p.m. (parking lot 13).
This talk will explore one writer’s experience in attempting to bring poetry and fiction from a Portuguese-American community and background into the general discourse of the American literary world. Gaspar will read selections from his own work and discuss their beginnings, focusing on the relative silence and isolation of Portuguese-American writers in the late 20th century, a time when ethnic literatures flourished in United States. While the struggle of an individual artist can never completely be a paradigm, Gaspar’s work and his own journey may serve to shed some light on the situation of Portuguese-American writers and the challenges they face in bringing voice to their communities.
Of his debut novel, Leaving Pico, the New York Times wrote: “Simple and satisfying, Gaspar’s novel is an expert portrait of the Portuguese immigrant experience, from its resistance to full integration to its smaller domestic squabbles.” His newest novel, Stealing Fatima, was recently named a MassBook of the Year in Fiction by the Massachusetts Center for the Book. It is the story of a priest’s search for redemption in a town where, even in these modern times, the divine is possible and a single act ignites a series of events that challenge the faith of a fishing village, a parish, and the priest himself.
Frank X. Gaspar was born and raised in Provincetown, Massachusetts. His ancestors were whalers and Grand-Banks fishermen, sailing out of the Islands and then Provincetown. He is the Hélio and Amélia Pedroso / Luso-American Education Foundation Endowed Chair in Portuguese Studies in the English Department at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, under the auspices of the Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture. He is also Professor Emeritus at Long Beach City College, Long Beach, CA, and often teaches in the Graduate Writing Program at Antioch University. He is the recipient of many awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, multiple inclusion in Best American Poetry, and three Pushcart Prizes.