Zach Malave is Puerto Rican and West African. He currently is a University at Albany sophomore with intended majors in Latin American and Caribbean Studies and Psychology.

Celebrating the art of literacy

By Zach Malave

During the NYS Writers Institute's Albany Book Festival, I learned about various groups and diverse backgrounds of authors who find a passion in telling a story; a story that allowed readers to understand and connect to it on a personal level.

This event was an environment that gave authors and readers the ability to celebrate the art of literacy; in order to establish an understanding while being able to illuminate a connection between human beings. They were able to portray these connections through the help of many forms of literature genres, such as poetry, comics, fictions, and etc.

I was grateful to see Gregory Maguire, the author of Wicked, which was turned into the hit musical on Broadway. During his talk, he said there is an “interconnectedness of technology; we tend to check our phones instead of slowing down and enjoying the moment, perhaps even reading a book.”

This comparison of books vs technology, bridges a gap between the depths of finding who you are and expressing deep and complex ways of thinking. I believe he wanted to express the idea that reading has a much more positive impact on you as an individual. While at the same time allowing you to find beneficial discoveries compared to using Instagram or Facebook.

I enjoyed my time in the book festival because it was very diverse and fluid, in the sense that there was a mass production of different kind of books that covered intense and complex topics. Some complex topics that were generated around the room were race, gender, language, and more. I found these topics intriguing because it mainly connected to my major; Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Overall, I think reading and writing are important because it gives a certain escape from the real world. It’s a form of expression that flows knowledge to an individual or group. It helps inform and reconstruct a person's thinking or perspective on life, as well as social constructs.

I think books or journals can help illustrate and understand how we feel, which then helps us express ourselves. During the read aloud, Gregory Maguire stated how “Fairy tales are a way to step out of ourselves and come back with more knowledge, 'Once Upon a Time' is where it all starts…”

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