In a Constant State of Transition’: Mapping the Borderlands Between Scholarship and Poetry
Speaker: Deborah Miranda, the John Lucian Smith Term Professor of English at Washington and Lee
Monday 2 March at 8:00 pm, in Leyburn Library’s Northen Auditorium
Professor Miranda describes her John Lucian Smith, Jr. Professor Lecture as follows:
I am a mestiza. Half Indian, half white. Half poet, half academic. Split between the East and West Coasts of the North American continent, I have spent most of my life negotiating the complexity of in-betweenness, a place where the work of my scholarship often clashes with the work of my heart’s passion. Research demands facts, precision, efficiency, respect for deadlines, while poetry demands a suspension of time, ambiguity, messiness, irreverence for rules. As Chicana scholar and poet Gloria Anzaldúa writes, the borderlands are “not a comfortable territory to live in, this place of contradictions … A borderland is a vague and undetermined place … it is in a constant state of transition.” Is it possible to create a true mestiza work out of these two beloved but very separate cultures? To conceive and give birth to a mixed, hybrid, generative and balanced creativity? What would this kind of research look like? What would this kind of poetry look like? Is it possible to create this new kind of space in the in-between, and how would one keep one’s balance on constantly shifting ground? Anzaldúa warns that, “To survive the Borderlands/ you must live sin fronteras/ be a crossroads.” This talk is a map of surviving that encounter, that clash, and all its glorious consequences – in a body, a life, and a career.