Members of PSBA had the opportunity to join visiting poet and scholar, Juan Armando Rojas Joo, at the University of Puget Sound on October 2nd for a workshop on Cartonera Publishing. Juan, a Associate Professor of SpanishDepartment Chair at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio was on campus to share his poetry and the role of the cartonera in Latin America.
As a native of Ciudad Juárez, one of the most violent border towns in Mexico, Dr. Rojas Joo’s poetry offers a first-hand account of life on the border while examining the complex relationship between Mexico and the United States. His scholarly and literary work has been published in numerous journals, magazines, and anthologies and he has been invited to speak at several universities both in Mexico and in the United States. In 2011, Dr. Rojas Joo spent a semester as the poet in residence at the University of Coímbra in Portugal and in 2012 he teamed up with the Spanish “cardboard” publishing house, Editorial Ultramarina Cartonera & Digital to publish a bilingual edition of his “trans-border” poems, titled Luz/Light, which will be presented.
The Caroterna ( cardboard) movement offers poets the opportunity to disseminate their work while engaging students and entire communities during the process. Using recycled cardboard, book covers are constructed and decorated in community workshops that promote poetry readings. These cardboard books, colorfully hand-painted and assembled by workshop collectives, are now bought and sold in nearly every major Latin American city.
This movement has been growing for years and has been popular in Argentina where The Cartoneras project aims to promote the celebration of language, culture, and creativity through a collaboration between writers and cardboard collectors. They produce and publish beautiful books with hand-painted cardboard covers that speak of the wonderful literature inside.
These projects inspire us to think of ways we could bring literature and art to the public! After all, creative play is critical thinking.
blog and photos by Jane Carlin
To find out more about Cartonera as an art form, visit the links below.