On Wednesday, May 22, ANS had the great pleasure of hosting award-winning author Silvio Sirias, who gave three talks in total to various secondary students, including many groups of seventh graders, eighth graders, freshmen, and juniors from regular, honors and AP classes.
Although born in Los Angeles, California, Sirias has always felt a strong connection to his roots and his parents’ homeland, Nicaragua. He moved to our beautiful land of lakes and volcanoes at age eleven, an event which he considered a significant milestone in his life as it shaped his bicultural and bilingual outlook.
Evidently, much of his work is inspired by aspects of Nicaraguan culture, such as real stories that have happened in the country. One of these cases is that of Bernardo Martinez, a tailor and pig farmer who believed he witnessed the apparition of the Virgin Mary, and was also the inspiration for Sirias’ celebrated book Bernardo and the Virgin.
Sirias has also written other award-winning books such as Meet Me Under the Ceiba, The Saint of Santa Fe and The Season of Stories. In addition, he has created many non-fiction texts on Latinx literature including Julia Alvarez: A Critical Companion, Conversations with Rudolfo Anaya and Tropical Town and Other Poems, and Love Made Visible: Reflections on Writing, Teaching, and Other Distractions.
The writer describes his style as one that is simple, melodic and impactful because of the straightforward character of his writing, allowing him to connect with his readers. Sirias also puts tremendous emphasis on the passion and the emotion that go into preparing and crafting his texts, as well as the importance of focusing on a good story, on having good engaging content.
“It was just amazing!” commented Isabella Deshon, a current junior, on the experience of having the honor of hearing Sirias speak. “I honestly have been completely blown away by the wisdom I received today. It’s allowed me to have a lot of introspection.”
His talks today covered a variety of topics, from creativity to life mindsets to essay-writing and sources of inspiration.
“It was very cool! I even took notes,” stated an enthusiastic Luiselena Gutierrez, a current freshman, on the talk she received. “The talk he gave to us was so interesting because it was about essays. Usually, essays are expected to be strict and boring in a way, very fixed in structure and content. The way [Sirias] explained the essay-writing process was the complete opposite however — he encouraged us to make it something fun, something enjoyable. For example, an introduction wasn’t just an introduction to him. He called it a ‘seduction’ of sorts, a way to link the reader to the text, to mark them, and to allow them to feel affection towards it.”
Deshon, along with all of the student spectators to the talks today, also exhibited such enthusiasm, stating that she enjoyed the topic of the specific talk Sirias gave, which was about seeking inspiration and being able to find focus in one’s writing, especially through real life experiences.
“Hearing about mindfulness was the most meaningful thing to me — it’s so difficult to obtain in our world today, one so full of distractions, but he made the process much more simpler to understand. It was really what I needed to hear,” she mentioned. “He spoke about being able to find greater clarity in a guru he found during his pilgrimage in the Camino de Santiago, but interestingly enough, when he was talking about that, he felt like my guru.”
Overall, it was a tremendous honor to have Silvio Sirias visit our school. It was a pleasure for all students to hear his incredible talks, and we look forward to hopefully having him next year as well!