Stories shape the way we see ourselves. They can influence how we act too. Many a ‘good marriage’, ‘successful career’ and ‘comfortable life’ has been torn to shreds by that old and familiar cultural story, affectionately known as ‘the Midlife Crisis’. In this week’s Healing Through Creativity show, host Dr. Desiree Cox talks to one of today preeminent essayists, cultural critics, and translators, Professor Ilan Stavans. Professor Stavans is the Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture and Five College-Fortieth Anniversary Professor at Amherst College. Stavans shares how he spun this ‘the middle-age crisis’ tale into a creative opportunity. Stavans has been finding this phase of life to be about opening new worlds. And with this has come a new sense of aliveness.
A native from Mexico, Ilan Stavans received his Doctorate in Latin American Literature from Columbia University. Stavans is Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College. His books include The Hispanic Condition (1995), On Borrowed Words (2001), Spanglish (2003), Love and Language (2007), and Gabriel García Márquez: The Early Years (2010). He is the editor of The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories (1998), The Poetry of Pablo Neruda (2003), the 3-volume set of Isaac Bashevis Singer: Collected Stories (2004), Becoming Americans: Four Centuries of Immigrant Writing (2009), The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature (2010), and The FSG Books of 20th-Century Latin American Poetry (2011). His forthcoming titles are, as translator, Juan Rulfo’s The Plain in Flames (Texas, 2012) and Pablo Neruda’s All the Odes (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2012), and, as author, Return to Centro Histórico: A Mexican Jew Looks for His Roots (Rutgers, 2012), the graphic novel El Iluminado (Basic, 2012, with Steve Sheinkin), ad well as a biography of Isaac Bashevis Singer (Princeton) and a biography of the novel Don Quixote (W.W. Norton).
‘Good grief Stavans’, says Cox, ‘You’re an eminent professor, you’ve written many books; you’ve written plays, hosted your own PBS show. People hearing this might be saying: ‘What’s this guy have to be in mid-life crisis about’.
Stavans laughs out loud. Then he shares about his journey. In particular he tells of how the summer camp he started for reading and rediscovering the classics has been invigorating, life changing even.
Stavans has also written plays. His play The Disappearance, performed by the theatre troupe Double Edge, premiered at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and has been shown throughout the world. His story “Morirse está en hebreo” was made into the award-winning movie My Mexican Shivah (2007), produced by John Sayles. Stavans has received numerous awards and honors, among them a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Jewish Book Award, the Southwest Children Book of the Year Award, an Emmy nomination, the Latino Book Award, Chile’s Presidential Medal, the Rubén Darío Distinction, and the Cátedra Roberto Bolaño. He was the host of the syndicated PBS show Conversations with Ilan Stavans (2001-2006). His work has been translated into a dozen languages. His forthcoming titles are, as translator, Juan Rulfo’s The Plain in Flames (Texas, 2012) and Pablo Neruda’s All the Odes (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2012), and, as author, Return to Centro Histórico: A Mexican Jew Looks for His Roots (Rutgers, 2012), the graphic novel El Iluminado (Basic, 2012, with Steve Sheinkin), as well as a biography of Isaac Bashevis Singer (Princeton) and a biography of the novel Don Quixote (W.W. Norton).
Find out more about a creative moment can open new worlds, and how opening new worlds and inviting changes that shift your perspective helps us to experience ourselves has ‘whole’. Find out about all of this and more in this week’s Healing Through Creativity conversation. This week’s show is sponsored in part by the International Futures Forum. Find out more about the International Futures Forum on (www.internationalfuturesforum.com). You can also find out more about Dr. Desiree Cox on her website www.desireecox.com