TSC hosts accomplished authors during the Binational Literary Conference

In its 20th year, the Binational Literary Conference was hosted recently at Texas Southmost College, bringing some of the most extraordinary authors and poets from the region together for readings and panel discussions.

The conference, also hosted simultaneously in Matamoros, Mexico, this year honored the late McAllen author Roberto de la Torre Hurtado, who is known as the pilar of Spanish literature across the country and is the founder of “Voces en la Frontera” (Voices on the Border), one of the best-established literary events along the U.S. and Mexico border.

“It’s been two decades since this conference was first hosted, and we’re so excited to be back in person, sharing it with our communities after last year’s hiatus,” said TSC Division of Humanities Spanish Professor Juan Antonio Gonzalez. “It’s great seeing our campus and local community engage with us.”

The conference was well attended by TSC faculty, staff, students and community members from both sides of the border who have an interest in literature or are looking to become published authors.

One of those TSC students in attendance was Christian Valladares, a general studies student who expects to graduate next month with an associate degree and who has dreams of becoming a published writer.

“I think it’s amazing how TSC gives us opportunities like this one,” said the Brownsville native. “It exposes us and allows us to network with writers and speakers who can educate us on important issues, and because I’m an aspiring writer, they have also served as inspiration.”

Valladares added, “The conference has given me a better understanding and new perspective on the culture and people of the region. Hopefully, one day I have the chance to write a book about life along the border.”

Students like Valladares and others in attendance had the opportunity to hear poems and narratives from more than 20 authors, including keynote speaker, author, researcher and professor Lauro Zavala, Ph.D.

Zavala traveled to TSC for this year’s conference from the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana in Mexico City to share a lecture on short story evolution and theories.

An accomplished author himself with 24 books, 18 literary anthologies and 19 scholarly books, Zavala wants others to understand the writing and analysis of a short story – to help, he delivered examples of contemporary writing.

“The short story is the DNA of any kind of narration, so understanding its structural principles is very useful for any person interested in writing and teaching language and literature,” he said.

TSC President Jesus Roberto Rodriguez said hosting this group of accomplished scholars and authors is an honor.

“Our goal as a comprehensive community college is to always provide these types of experiences and opportunities to our students and community to enrich their cultural perspectives and lives,” he said. “Hosting this many accomplished writers and scholars, some from TSC, is something we can’t take for granted. Their works speak to so many and to be among them is inspirational.”

Gonzalez called this event a true success for the literary world.

“This conference serves to promote to our community the talent and aptitude that surrounds our region and state,” he said. “It allows our students to see the possibilities of writing and how it profoundly shapes our perspectives and thoughts. It gives them reason to dream and realize that anything is possible.”