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Sonia Rivera Valdés is a writer, literary critic and professor of Literature and Puerto Rican Studies at York College, City University of New York. In the fall of 2009, York College awarded her the Presidential Outstanding Scholarship for her literary work. She is the President and one of the founders of the Latino Artists Round Table (LART). For almost forty years she has worked on establishing cultural links between Cuba, Spain, the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States. In 1997 she won the Casa de Las Américas prize (La Habana) with Las historias prohibidas de Marta Veneranda. In the year 2003 she published Historias de mujeres grandes y chiquitas and her novel Rosas de Abolengo came out in 2011. The three books have been published in New York (Editorial Campaña) and Cuba (Casa de las Américas and Editorial Oriente), and they have been translated into several languages. Her stories and essays have appeared in literary journals and anthologies in Cuba, the United States, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.

In this lecture, Sonia Rivera will read passages from her literary work and, through the use of examples from literature and popular music such as tangos, rancheras and bolero, she will reflect on the ability that conversational language and humor have to express deep layers of reality and feelings in an accurate and concise manner. The lecture will focus on the contribution of conversational and vernacular language to literature as an instrument for the preservation of the knowledge of spoken language and the wisdom associated to it. These two factors are fundamental to a valid study of any society.

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