By 2000, Puerto Rican literature appeared on blogs and online magazines. These new digital formats provided a space to a huge number of writers, as well as democratized the exposure and consumption of new literature. Also during this decade, the main universities in Puerto Rico institutionalized creative writing programs . Additionally, digital printing and print on demand stimulated the emergence of independent presses, and the increase in national writing contests with international reach promoted the exposure and development of Puerto Rican writers.
The internet era has enabled people to create their own spaces for exposing their texts and, in a collective sense, has made room for blogs and online magazines. The authors of the 1980’s generation and later have designed their own spaces, allowing a diverse and inter-generational interaction among writers. Urayoán Noel, Yarissa Colón, Rafael Franco-Steeves, Christian Ibarra, Guillermo Rebollo-Gil, Mara Pastor, Alberto Martínez Márquez, Mario Cancel, Alexandra Pagán Vélez, Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro, Mayra Santos-Febres, Elidio Latorre Lagares, Lilliana Ramos Collado, Cindy Jiménez and David Caleb Acevedo, among many other authors, exposed their texts this way and some remain active in those spaces. At the same time, very important blog-style magazines arose to create the feeling of a collective and cultural dissemination in spaces such as Estruendomudo Letras Salvajes, Sótano 00931, Derivas, El Roommate, 80grados, Cruce, Visión Doble, Corpus Literatum, and others (some arose in 2010 and later). This made literature accessible and, to a certain measure, democratic. Today, platforms such as Facebook provide spaces for exchange, collaboration and dissemination among writers and literature lovers.
All of this activity, thanks to information technology, made literature a real and valued space for expression and led to the creation of programs such as the Masters in Creative Writing at the University of the Sacred Heart, and the Masters in Cultural Management and Administration and the creative writing courses from the University of Puerto Rico system. Specifically, the University of the Sacred Heart was home to the Cofradía de Escritores de Puerto Rico, an organization that promotes new writers (graduates from the University of the Sacred Heart´s program) and publishes their books.
Finally, just before 2000, El Nuevo Día created a short story prize and later one for poetry that allowed new writers to gain exposure in the literary world. Similarly, other contests that serve as encouragement and, in a certain sense, generate a literary canon, are the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture Prize (in all genres), the Barco de Vapor Prize (for children’s literature), the PEN Club of Puerto Rico and the Institute of Puerto Rican Literature (which grant prizes for books that have already been published). These efforts have helped shape and support a large group of Puerto Rican writers. Additionally, the Festival of the Word brings together national and international writers and offers prizes that bring attention to writers who are beginning to gain notice (New Voices Award).
What stands out about the writing of the 21st century? The invasion of technology into all aspects of daily life characterized this era, which has led to changes in writing as a practice and as a market, and even includes e-mails, video games, and the world of science fiction with notions of technological invasion into the intimate spheres of literary proposals. Additionally, the speed and fragmentation of discourse (channel hopping on television, reading and jumping among hyperlinks, commercial advertisements and searching for information in videos) lead to not-yet-complete aesthetic experiments that produce synthetic texts whose beauty resides in their power of suggestion (the word “unfinished” has become common in poetry).
Contrary to what was perhaps expected, excessive consumerism, accessibility of information, technology, and individualism have led society to a disequilibrium in psychological, social and economic terms. Recent literature also deals with the boundaries of genres and designs new literary forms such as urban chronicles, micro stories, pastiche, novelized biographies, and other forms, to denounce and even ridicule the new problems humanity faces.
Some outstanding writers publishing consistently in the 21st century (in addition to those already mentioned) are Julio César Pol, Kattia Chico, Yara Liceaga, Alejandro álvarez, Bruno Soreno (Juan Carlos Quiñones), Pedro Cabiya, Karen Sevilla, Carmen R. Marín, Janette Becerra, Rafael Acevedo, Edgardo Nieves Mieles, Eduardo Lalo, Juanluís Ramos, Carlos Vázquez Cruz, Kalman Barsy, Mayra Montero, Giannina Braschi, Lawrence LaFountain-Strokes, Josué Montijo, Luis Negrón, Irizelma Robles, Noel Luna, Mayda Colón, Javier ávila, Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá, Juan López Bauzá, Magali García Ramis, Juan Antonio Torres, Luis Rafael Sánchez, Rima Brusi, Silvia Bofill, Kisha Burgos and Aravind Adyanthaya, among many others.
As happened with novels, poetry and even essays, the theater also responded – in forms and ideas – to the new times. Since the 1980s, the theater has taken on characteristics in line with the visual arts through performance art, dance and experimental art. Surrealism, video and constant dialogue with the visual arts characterized the experimental dimensions of the theater. The theater has brought together improvisation, modern dance, performance art and the happening.
The defining characteristics of Puerto Rican literature of the 21st century are hybridity, syncretism, minimalism, irony, parody and a sense of the ephemeral.
Author: Alexandra Pagán Vélez
Published: January 26, 2016.
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