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Silent Dancing: A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood
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Silent Dancing: A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  224 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Cultural Writing. Latino/Latina Studies. SILENT DANCING combines poetry and prose to form an innovative and deeply personal narrative that explores Judith Ortiz Cofer's memories of her childhood spent between Puerto Rico and New Jersey. Winner of the 1991 PEN/Martha Albrand Special Citation for Nonfiction. "This book is a treasure, a secret door opening onto memories locke ...more
Paperback, 158 pages
Published January 1st 1990 by Arte Publico Press
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Erasmo Guerra
First published in 1990, Silent Dancing is a lush, melancholy remembrance of growing up a bicultural Puerto Rican in the '60s. The young girl and her little brother are shuttled--by the circumstances of their parents' lives--between Paterson, NJ, and the island territory of Puerto Rico. This is a collection of creative nonfiction and poetry, of imaginative explorations of memory, attempting to get at a personal truth.

The narrative seemed slow going at first, with many of the anecdotes in the in
Rachel Rochester
I enjoyed this memoir, but I do think the poetry was its weakest aspect. I liked Ortiz's instinct to marry the two mediums, and I liked the way she juxtaposed prose narrative with related verse. Nevertheless, the paired poems sometimes were so repetitive that they seemed, to me, expendable -- they rarely introduced new material.

The strongest point of the text, for me, was its inquiry into the nature of memory and the accuracy of memoir. Ortiz's relation of the fire incident, presented so differ
Lee Anne
This is a wonderful book if you're teaching a First-Year Composition course. Her stories focus on the culture of the Puerto Rican women of her childhood: her grandmother, her young mother, her aunts and cousins. The stories are empowering for women, but they aren't damning in any way towards men. This book draws you in with Cofer's cuentos, and while it's not a difficult book to understand, there's no lack of significant material for critical analysis in your classroom. Her images are finely cra ...more
In the beginning, I felt Cofer was trying too hard to imitate Woolf's style of writing so I rolled my eyes at times. Throughout the course of her folkloric autobiography, however, I began to see that that was not her intention at all. I was engaged during her simple stories and colorful descriptions, I can even say that they were very comforting to read. Some of her short poems did make me roll my eyes a bit the way I did in the beginning but, for the most part, I enjoyed reading her stories (at ...more
"Silent dancing" refers to an old silent movie that Judith Cofer's uncle filmed at a family party in Puerto Rico. Taken in the early 1960s, it appears the people are gyrating to nothing.

Cofer grew up spending half of her time in Puerto Rico when her Navy father was at sea and half in Paterson, New Jersey, when the ship was in port in New York. Although,the family spoke Spanish at home, she excelled in school in both places and in two languages. Although her father was Puerto Rican, he always sp
Feb 10, 2014 Chris rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: owned
This autobiography is different in the sense that while it follows a linear progression there are noticeable gaps as it leaps over years and the reader may at first find themselves feeling a sense of disorientation at the start of each chapter as they attempt to figure out where and when they are at during the narrator's life. However, I felt that these effects were entirely appropriate in a book that focuses on the narrator's sense of displacement and disorientation as she transverses between P ...more
A delightful exploration of cultural clashes from a Puerto Rican/New Jersey childhood. Ms. Ortiz-Cofer writes from the clear perspective of a child balanced between two worlds - one of cuentos, a plethora of aunts, uncles and family, bright colors and emotions, and a world of grey isolation. A very moving journey.
Ms. Oldham
This book is a mix of poetry and short stories that depict Cofer's life in Puerto Rico and the U.S. She intertwines Spanish with English as she shares stories from her own childhood and those she remembers being told by the women of her family.
Jennifer Dines
This book envelopes you into its two worlds...Puerto Rico and Paterson, New Jersey. The author explores her early life in a series of "ensayos" - which she explains are different than the English word "essays". For her, the "ensayos" are more of rehearsals or studies - like a musical etude. Cofer's genuine voice lifts off the pages and offers pearls of wisdom on living as a woman. If you read her later YA novel An Island Like You, you can see the seeds of those stories beginning in this book.
Fans of Sandra Cisneros' House on Mango Street, should definitely check out Silent Dancing. This collection of vignettes is every bit as memorable. I particularly loved the poetry that followed the chapters, re-framing each recalled memory so beautifully. Cofer's memoir of growing up in both Puerto Rico and New Jersey is an absolutely delightful read.
This is one of those books you read and years later you still remember it fondly...something hit your heart. I adore Judith's style of writing and I really connected with her references to Puerto Rico. I'll have to find this one and read it again.
I really wanted to enjoy this book, and there were parts of it that reminded me of home in PR, but overall, the book seemed a little too disjointed. There wasn't one specific storyline, rather,the author jumped around from story to story.
Aug 01, 2007 Evan added it
Shelves: more_than_once
some of this works, some doesn't. A couple of chapters are surprisingly honest while others seem to cover up. I wonder if Cofer was writing with her mother over her shoulder?
A book that teaches, through singing Poetry and ballroom dancing prose, how to travel the avenues of memory and make Art from the particulars of one's personal life.
The first book of required reading for narrative inquiry. Based on this book... should be a great class!
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Judith Ortiz Cofer (born in 1952) is a Puerto Rican author. Her work spans a range of literary genres including poetry, short stories, autobiography, essays, and young-adult fiction.

Judith Ortiz Cofer was born in Hormigueros, Puerto Rico, on February 24, 1952. She moved to Paterson, New Jersey with her family in 1956. They often made back-and-forth trips between Paterson and Hormigueros. In 1967,
More about Judith Ortiz Cofer...
The Meaning of Consuelo Call Me Maria An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio The Latin Deli: Prose and Poetry The Line of the Sun

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