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Understanding the life and work of Elena Poniatowska

By Brigid Quinn

Local teacher, writer, actor, and director, Lilia Trapaga, provides a spirited overview of the life and works of Mexican literary icon Elena Poniatowska for the San Miguel Writers’ Conference.


The San Miguel Writers’ Conference presents The Life & Work of Elena Poniatowska, By Lilia Trapaga, Thu, Jan 19, 5pm, Posada San Francisco, Cnr Hidalgo & Canal, 70 pesos/50 pesos for Literary Sala members

Elena Poniatowska is one of three writers giving a keynote address at this year’s February 16-19 San Miguel Writers’ Conference. Poniatowska is one of Mexico’s most celebrated and prolific writers. Her many novels, countless essays, historical accounts, short stories, and chronicles earned her the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation in 2006.

More recently, on June 2, 2011, World Literature Today announced that Poniatowska has been nominated for the prestigious Neustadt International Prize for Literature for 2012. This prize is widely considered to be the most prestigious international literary award after the Nobel Prize in Literature, awarded not for any one work, but for an entire body of work. Her first collection of short stories was published in 1954, and 58 years later, she is still writing. Her historical novel published this year, Leonora, about the surrealist painter Leonora Carrington, won the Seix Barral Biblioteca Breve prize.

Lilia Trapaga is well known for work in the theater and her love of the Spanish language and the written word. She is a translator, a Spanish teacher and has given numerous talks about literature for the “Cervantes Everywhere” Festival. She is the founder and director of the theater group “El Caldero” (The Cauldron) whose goal is to make poetry and literature accessible to young Mexicans. The group has received two grants from the Culture Institute of Guanajuato State. Their 9th production, “Until I read you, Elena…,” about Elena Poniatowska, will be staged on the 30th and 31st of January at Teatro Santa Ana of the Biblioteca.

Trapaga’s presentation will be in English and she will use her considerable dramatic and linguistic skills to familiarize attendees with Poniatowska and her body of work. For more information on the San Miguel Writers Conference go to

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