The only color recording of her childhood, the video pans across women in red dresses before standing still as these women and their men dance toward the camera lens, moving in and out of focus. As an adult rewatching these scenes, Ortiz Cofer wishes she could access more than just the images of these family rel In "Silent Dancing," the story that gives this collection its title, author Judith Ortiz Cofer describes a home video that was recorded sometime during her youth in Paterson, New Jersey. As an adult rewatching these scenes, Ortiz Cofer wishes she could access more than just the images of these family relations whose lives have forked away from her own in the intervening years.
During college she married and, with husband and daughter, moved to Florida where she finished an M. A fellowship allowed her to pursue graduate work at Oxford, after which she returned to Florida and simultaneously began teaching English and writing poetry.
Reaching for the Mainland and Terms of Survival appeared in As a child, living amid the violence and racial tensions of the Paterson, New Jersey slums, the library became her refuge, and books her English teachers; on the island, the written word gave way to the oral tradition of her Spanish speaking grandmother.
Though strongly determined by the English language and literary tradition of her academic training, her writing still reflects the tension of that dynamic intercultural background.
Spanish lingers, filtering through in emotion-packed words or phrases that remind us we are reading something other than a monolingual text.
Her poems offer continual overlays and blends of cultures and languages that refuse to settle completely into either side, hence defining their ever-shifting, never-ending synthesis as authentic Puerto Rican life.
One pattern her exploration takes is that of gathering, like an anthropologist, sayings, expressions, or words from Puerto Rican Spanish and recasting them into English poems in which the essence is conveyed across linguistic borders.
That is, Ortiz Cofer achieves what many claim to be the function of poetry: At a more pedestrian level, this experience is and has been fundamental to the development of the U.
Thus, beyond displaying the particularities of Puerto Rican experience, Ortiz Cofer reminds us of our common national character. While much of her poetry and prose displays the texture of her interwoven cultures, the underlying preoccupation is more sexual than cultural.
More than languages and geographic locations, the figures gripped in an unstable embrace are men and women, with the former more an ever-absent presence, and the latter a long-suffering presence longing for that absence. Perhaps her works document the disintegration of the traditional family resulting from the pressures of migratory life, but even in the pieces that recall prior lives in more settled times, stable relationships are illusions.
Her basic question is the essential one of desire and its fulfillment. Silent Dancing plays with memory and the power of media to document events, despite its inability to convey the emotive value of images.
A powerful commentary on lost moments, it is equally forceful as a recovery of the ephemeral quality of experience.Search Results. Silent Dancing By Cofer Judith Ortiz Cofer’s family moved to New Jersey in when she was three years old (69).
Cofer describes what it . The book begins by examining Judith Ortiz Cofer's Silent Dancing, a work which clearly illustrates the role of gatekeepers in perpetuating gendered power relations.
It then turns to the works of Christina Garcia, Julia Alvarez, Rosario Ferre, and Magali Garcia Ramis. When I look back through my old family photo albums, I find it difficult to recall much more than what is pictured in their pages.
The dated clothing, the people, the locations all of these are quite visible, and therefore appear memorable, but the fact is, without the visual prompt, I prob.
SILENT DANCING combines poetry and prose to form an innovative and deeply personal narrative that explores Judith Ortiz Cofer's memories of her childhood spent between Puerto Rico and New Jersey.
Winner of the . After Judith Ortiz Cofer gave a poetry reading in , a friend, Hilma Wolitzer, suggested that she take some of the images and subjects of her poems and create essays out of them.
Silent Dancing. Judith Ortiz Cofer was born in Hormigueros, Puerto Rico, in She was raised on the island and in Paterson, New Jersey, before her family finally settled in Augusta, Georgia.
She received her B.A. in English from Augusta College in , and her M.A. in English from Florida Atlantic University, and did graduate work at Oxford University in.