Your name: Sergio Salazar
Your home town: Bogotá, Colombia
Your major(s): My undergraduate and first MA are in education and language acquisition. I am currently a PhD Candidate in Spanish.
Are you fluent in any language(s) other than English? Yes, Spanish and French.
What are your career plans? I will be a tenured professor at a research University in the US.
What is your favorite book or author and why? I do not really have a favorite (hard to choose) but I truly enjoy Julio Cortázar, an Argentinian writer from the mid-twentieth century. I appreciate the revolutionary approach to writing that he brought to the Latin American letters, the simplicity of his prose, and the philosophical explorations of identity in a time of political turbulence, among other things. He was also the first author I read as a child and the reason why I got into literary studies.
What is your favorite word? I love the word sazón in Spanish. It could be vaguely translated as the flavor of a given dish, but the concept is far more complex. It refers to the unique taste that you infuse your cooking with and which depends on your own experiences, background, and even mood –it is a representation of your spirit in the food you cook. In a way, sazón could be read as a metaphor for how deeply personal writing is, our texts reflect who we are at any given time. I also like to eat a lot.
Describe a significant breakthrough in your development as a writer: When I initially started writing academically in English I had a challenging time adapting to a new linguistic, narrative, and argumentative system. In Spanish we write long-winded sentences, relish in hyperbaton, use the passive voice, and enjoy maintaining the inherent ambiguities of complex concepts –things we are taught to avoid in English. I visited my university’s writing center where the tutors helped me comprehend the differences in systems and helped me found efficient writing strategies that have stayed with me to this day. It was also through this work that I learned the value of conversation before putting pen to paper, and the glory of revision after you have had your 7th draft.