I am, at 91 years old, a locomotive: Elena Poniatowska

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My life has been a huge question mark. And now I keep wondering how to do things and what is going to happen to Mexico, what is going to be the fate of my ten grandchildren and that of all the children of our country," said the writer and journalist Elena Poniatowska (1932) yesterday in her reception speech for the Carlos Fuentes International Award for Literary Creation in the Spanish Language 2023.

Throughout 70 years, I never abandoned the why, where, when and how, the first questions of journalism. Maybe I would have had more self-confidence if I had been born in Mexico, but they brought me from Paris and I keep asking the same questions," added the novelist and short story writer at the award ceremony, which includes $125,000, a diploma and a sculpture designed by the plastic artist Vicente Rojo.

In the main room of the Palace of Fine Arts, the chronicler was accompanied by the secretaries of the Interior and Culture, Luisa María Alcalde and Alejandra Frausto; the UNAM Cultural Diffusion coordinator, Rosa Beltrán; the Undersecretary of Culture Marina Núñez and the historian Javier Garciadiego, as representative of the jury, also made up of Reneé Acosta, Concepción Company, Luis García Montero and Margo Glantz, the winner in 2022.

Receiving an award that bears the name of Carlos Fuentes (1928-2012), whom I knew since the 1950s, when we still did not know what our vocation would be, is equivalent to looking up surprised by a burst of lights rotating in the sky.” added the author of Lilus Kikus (1954) and The Polish lover (2019).

He highlighted that "I receive the prize that he sends me with a wink: 'There you go, Poni, I had it saved for you.' Starting in 1953, I intended to document Mexico in thousands of fervent pages that cover characters that impacted me: from María Félix to Jesusa Palancares, who, along with several soldaderas, paralyzed the entire Mexican Republic by lying down with her petticoats on the rails... Like them, I was also and still am, at 91 years old, a locomotive.”

For her part, Rosa Beltrán highlighted that, from journalism, essays and narrative, Poniatowska uses in her literary project both human closeness and research as well as humor to dialogue with tradition, recreate the past, sketch a new future, all this from the fascinating use of orality.”

And the journalist Silvia Lemus, widow of Carlos Fuentes, recalled that “Elena has been a great friend of Fuentes since her youth and it has been a family friendship. Then, the formal rigidities dissolve and here we are accompanying you on a special date, on a unique day, in which the young Elena and Carlos come together again.”

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