Posts Tagged ‘Arturo Islas’

Friday 56
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that’s ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post in Linky here. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It’s that simple.

No art work for this book today but I hope you like the quote from Arturo Islas: The Uncollected Works Edited by Frederick Luis Aldama. Arturo Islas was my favorite professor in college and a lot of my love of writing and even my writing voice I owe to him so I hope you enjoy this.

“In the first weeks of that first year you were gone, I awakened to unbearable feelings of loss, self-recrimination, emptiness, nothingness. There was no sense of time moving in that house where you and I had lived together for three years. In the darkness and intolerable silence of that empty space (empty? I was there, wasn’t I? I didn’t think so, I felt annihilated) I was even afraid of the light slowly creeping into my bedroom.”

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I was in Hawaii on a family vacation in the spring of 1991 when I heard the news that put me into a very sad and contemplative mood for the rest of the trip and for the weeks that followed.  I can still remember the moment that I heard the news.

I was alone in the condo because I was exhausted and I needed to get some rest.  I stayed behind while my (then) husband and the kids went out for the afternoon.  I had the TV on but wasn’t really paying attention.  I remember that it was a telethon or some such show to raise money for AIDS research/awareness.  I was drifting in and out of sleep when I heard Richard Thomas say something to the effect of “in memory of the late Arturo Islas whom we just lost.  His death is a great loss to the world of literature.”  I jumped up out of bed.  I couldn’t believe it.  Not Arturo.

Arturo Islas was one of my literature professors at Stanford Universiy.  He was a very quiet, intelligent, and supportive man.  At the time that he was my professor, he was working on the first of his three novels (the last was published post-humously).  He would read to us from his works in progress and we’d discuss the writing then he would give us a related assignment.  He was very supportive of his students.  He was a prince of a man.  (For a post about Arturo Islas, on this blog, click HERE.)

Arturo grew up in El Paso, Texas.  He suffered from colitis and eventually had to have a colostomy while he was in college.  His family was not well off but he excelled in his academics to the point of being awarded a four year scholarship to Stanford University where he planned on becoming a neurosurgeon.  By the time he graduated with a Bachelors degree in English Literature (and a minor in Religion) in 1960, he had decided to pursue a career in literature.  He came back to Stanford to begin work on a Masters degree in English Literature then he completed his Ph.D in English Literature.  He was the first Chicano to have gained a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. on scholarship from Stanford University.  He went on to become the first Chicano faculty member at Stanford and the first tenured Chicano professor at Stanford.

I wish I could describe this gentle yet strong being that supported his students yet demanded excellence from them.  I wish I could share him with you.  I wish he still walked the earth.  He had so much to teach us when he was taken from us at the age of 51.  It was a great loss for us all.

Arturo Islas is only one of many.  Millions have died of AIDS.  In 2008 alone, there were TWO MILLION deaths attributed to HIV/AIDS.

When will it stop?

Today is World AIDS Day.  What can YOU do to help raise awareness?  What can YOU do to stop the spread of AIDS/HIV?

Some links:

World Vision-World AIDS Day

I Am Africa (buy clothing to support stopping the spread of AIDS in Africa)

Avert.org World AIDS Day

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC World AIDS Day)

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arturo islas Arturo Islas, click on photo to get to Arturo Islas Page

“Every one of you has inside of you the power to catch fire.Right now, with your writing, you are simmering.But at some point in your life, at least one time, you will catch fire.My hope is that you will do it some time during this course.”

We listened to his hushed, gentle, captivating voice as he spoke to us, becoming almost inaudible, when he spoke the phrase “catch fire.”We had been brought together on that hot day in late September of 1975, in the basement of Casa Zapata, the Chicano theme house, to take a course in Chicano Writing from Arturo Islas, the first Chicano in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in English and who would, later that year, become the first tenured Chicano professor at Stanford University.

Arturo’s teaching in the English Department was legendary and his Chicano Writing course was so popular that students dreamed of getting in then feared that they’d fall short of Arturo’s expectations once they got in.The class, taught only one quarter per year, had a maximum enrollment of ten students. (more…)

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