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Marimba and Puerto Rican Literature

Exhibit: April 22 – 30, 2014

The Latin American History class is providing a series of displays during March and April on various topics. This month the class displays are Marimba and Puerto Rican Literature. The exhibit is showcased on the blue tables by front entrance of the library.


The word 'marimba' can be translated to mean "voice of wood." The vibraphone, as well as the xylophone, have often times been confused with the marimba, as they resemble each other in looks and in the arrangement of the keys. However, each are made from different materials, and extend to higher octaves than the marimba.

The marimba is made out of rosewood, which traditionally comes from various Central American countries. Similarly, the instrument's frame is made out of different kinds of wood. The pipes can be made out of a variety of materials, although the traditional marimbas' pipes are made of aluminum. The different lengths of the hanging pipes serve to create the notes: the shorter the pipe, the higher the note. Some marimbas have a long tube that curves into an oval, just to achieve the lowest key role in creating a note. The harder the mallet, the better the high notes sound. Experienced players can hold up to three mallets in each of their hands, so as to widen their reach on the instrument.

The exhibit includes marimba history as well as present day. Guatemala is also featured. The marimba was named Guatemala's national instrument in 1978.

Puerto Rican Literature

Puerto Rican literature has a rich and diverse history. It evolved from oral storytelling into written stories. For many years, while Puerto Rico remained under Spanish rule, native Puerto Rican literature was severely stifled and restricted. Puerto Rican literature represents the cultural nationalism of the island. The style of Puerto Rican literature reflects the blend of Spanish Catholic culture with African culture found on the island. The common themes that characterize Puerto Rican literature include identity; cultural heritage; social background; immigrant stories; racial, ethnic,and linguistic barriers, life in Puerto Rico; and the conflict of being a part of two cultures. Puerto Rico's native literature began in the nineteenth century with El Gibaro, a composite of various works that represented native culture and tradition. After this, authors began to use literature as a medium for showcasing all aspects of culture, both good and bad. Many Puerto Rican authors formed their writing around the politics of the island, and political themes are still very common in island literature. All in all, Puerto Rican literature bloomed out of a history of repression into the diverse genre it is today.

Featured authors include: Mercedes Negran Munoz aka Clair Lair, Hector Feliciano, Ed Vega, Enrique Arturo Laguerre Ve lez, Antonio S. Pedreira and Iris Zavala

Closing date: April 30, 2014.

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