A Fierce Performer: The Magdalena Gómez Papers Collection (1979-2012)

Some of you may have seen already the UConn Today article announcing that the UConn Libraries’ Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center has acquired the Magdalena Gómez Papers (1979-2012). Born in NYC but currently a resident of Springfield, MA, Magdalena Gómez is what I consider the quintessential Renaissance woman: an award-winning poet, playwright, performance artist and social activist. Magdalena Gómez has the ability to combine art with social activism to create projects that are uplifting and empowering, one of the many reasons that guide me when I decided to acquire her collection.

Magdalena Gómez’s creative output is impressive. Poetry,  plays, non-fiction, puppetry, monologues are just a few of the things that Magdalena has created, performed, engaged for several decades; and still there is more to come, as she herself shared with us recently:

I am in what may be the most creative period of my life. As I near the beginning of six decades on the planet I am at last finishing my novel, getting my first book collection of poetry published by Red Sugar Cane Press, NYC (I have chapbooks and two CD’s), and have poems and monologues, some of which have been set to music, by acclaimed composer, Desmar Guevara running Off-Broadway this Fall: Dancing in My Cockroach Killers, a co-production between Pregones theater and the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, an Off-Broadway house since the 1960’s, founded by one of our legendary actors, Ms. Miriam Colón. It will be directed by another legend of American theater (all of the Americas), Rosalba Rolon, with choreography by Antonio Vargas.

In addition, Magdalena’s commitment to social change and justice through art is evident in such projects as Teatro V!da, the first Latino theater in Springfield, Massachusetts, where she is Co-Founder and Artistic Director. From their website:

Teatro V!da was founded to build youth leadership through the arts with a special focus on the creation of youth generated multi-media performance works in collaboration with professional adult artists. Our intergenerational ensemble work provides a venue for youth to identify and address issues that concern them in creative, positive, and life-giving ways.

Magdalena is the consummate collaborator. Her most recent effort is with Maria Luisa Arroyo, a writer and educator, with whom she co-edited a book on bullying, Bullying: Replies, Rebuttals, Confessions, and Catharsis (2012), an anthology of essays and poems written by educators and students, young and old people alike, who have suffered bullying but found that speaking out and sharing their experience is a way of healing–be it through a testimonial, a poem, or a short story.

At this point in time, we have a small collection, with a wide variety of materials that showcase the diverse projects and endeavors in which Magdalena has engaged from 1979-2012. Magdalena Gómez is an incredibly productive artist so more material will surely arrive in the archives as time goes by. Currently we have the following types of materials available in the collection: photographs, published poetry, published books and unpublished manuscripts of original poetry and plays, publicity posters and flyers, and empowering workshops material which highlight her creative output. Materials related to Teatro V!da and her book on bullying are also included, in addition to workshop material that she produced to teach educators, young children and adults, prisoners, abused women, etc. with the aim to empower them to reach their potential. A finding aid to her collection should be uploaded online by the end of the Fall semester.

Please visit the Archives & Special Collections, John P. McDonald Reading Room to see a display of Magdalena Gómez materials. The display will be available from Sept. 24 to Oct. 31st, 2013 during our regular hours, Monday-Friday: 10:00am-4:00pm.

Finally, today, Wednesday, October 9th the UConn Libraries, together with the Puerto Rican and Latin American Cultural Center, El Instituto, the Asian American Cultural Center, the Asian American Studies Institute and Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Institute are co-sponsoring the event An Evening with Magdalena Gómez, at the Student Union Theater starting at 4pm, where we will celebrate Magdalena’s work and life. During the program, Magdalena will perform work from her forthcoming poetry anthology (Reception to follow at PRLACC).

Marisol Ramos, Curator for Latina/o, Latin American & Caribbean Collections, UConn Libraries
Suzanne Zack, Marketing & Communications Specialist, UConn Libraries

One thought on “A Fierce Performer: The Magdalena Gómez Papers Collection (1979-2012)

  1. Pingback: Magdalena Gómez | 50 Playwrights Project

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