Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Internationally renowned Cuban poet to visit the Capstone

Hailed as one of the best living Cuban poets, Reina Maria Rodriguez will visit The University of Alabama Wednesday. Two of her events are open to the public: a Cuban Literary Culture meeting at noon in Maxwell Hall and a poetry reading at 7:30 p.m. in Smith Hall, Room 205.

“Reina Maria Rodriguez is one of the most important and famous living Cuban poets,” Charlie Bice, a senior majoring in international relations and Spanish, said. “She is internationally recognized and internationally awarded. She is a member of the Order of the Chevalier in France, and she has won awards from Spain and Mexico as well. La Azotea, her rooftop terrace in Havana, serves as an intellectual gathering place for Cuban artists and writers. I equate it to the parlors of the Enlightenment, where the great thinkers met and shared ideas.”

Rodriguez’s visit from Cuba is also a feat in itself.

“Rodriguez has been a major figure in world literature for decades,” Joel Brouwer, an English professor, said. “It’s difficult for Cuban authors to obtain permission to travel abroad, so her visit to Tuscaloosa is a very special occasion. I hope we have the opportunity to host her again in the future, but it’s entirely possible we won’t.”

Hank Lazer, associate provost and director of Creative Campus, secured her visit with help from Creative Campus interns.

“On my second visit to Cuba, I met Reina, and we began to talk about a possible visit to UA. With assistance from various UA adminstrators, I issued an invitation to her, and after many bumps in the road, she is able to visit UA,” Lazer said. “I apologize to students and faculty for having the visit coincide with study week and the end of the semester, but it is the only time we were able to schedule the visit once Reina’s visa had been approved.”

Lazer said the process of getting Rodriguez to the U.S. took persistence and reflects the University’s preexisting relationship with Cuba.

“Reina has a superb translator in Kristin Dykstra, and she is the one who has provided helpful information to me, to Joel Brouwer and to anyone with an interest in contemporary Cuban poetry,” Lazer said. “In a sense, Reina’s visit builds upon UA’s long-standing productive relationship with Cuba – a relationship built by the efforts of the College of Arts & Sciences [Dean Robert Olin and Associate Dean Carmen Burkhalter] and by the groundwork of Stan Murphy, a retired faculty member from UA’s Law School.”

However, Rodriguez’s visit is not the only interaction the University has with Cuba.

“UA has one of the most extraordinary relationships with Cuba of any U.S. university. UA students this spring semester, under the guidance of professor Mike Schnepf, have been in residence in Havana for the fourth year,” Lazer said. “It is a life-changing learning experience to visit Cuba and to learn about a radically different culture and to meet and talk to a range of Cuban citizens. Reina and Kristin’s visit will continue that deep learning experience.”

Bice said he views the University’s relationship with Cuba as essential in such an internationally focused era.

“I think the relationship that the University has with Cuba is invaluable. With the ever-changing world of international politics, the fact that a public university like UA has such a successful relationship with a nation like Cuba is incredible,” Bice said. “It proves an extraordinary relationship to cultivate for the business school and artists alike.”

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