Baladí: The new Spanish literature magazine at UMKC

Ciara Pate

Baladí. An Arabic word defined as something of little value or not worthy of attention or appreciation.

Though that may be the name of the new Spanish literature magazine on campus, it sure is proving its importance. Releasing their first issue at the beginning of October, the creators of Baladí aim to create an online fanzine for not only the Spanish community at UMKC but for the whole world. The first issue includes creative writing pieces from students and faculty, along with art and photography from students and professors like Aracely G. Tüng.

“I realized we had many students who were very creative, and they write fiction; they write poetry, but they don’t tell anybody,” said Spanish undergrad advisor, Alberto Villamandos. “I thought that would be a very good idea to start a magazine in Spanish for them.”

Villamandos wanted to create an outline for the bilingual students on campus to express themselves through words, art and photography. Though the idea, which began to form at the beginning of the school year, was initially to show off the skills of Spanish-speaking students at UMKC, the community is more than welcome to contribute.

They decided to name this magazine Baladí because they wanted students to investigate the “unpractical arts.” The creators wanted to encourage students to read works and look at art for something other than a grade.

“Usually students are being pressured to study things that are practical or useful, and then we forget about beauty, about literature, because they don’t have a purpose for making money,” said Villamandos.

Faculty, like Iván Ramirez, coordinator of the Avanzando program in the Multicultural Student Affairs office, are also working to make Baladí more well known.

“We want to create a different perspective about what being a Latino or Spanish-speaking person really is,” said Ramirez.

The creators hope parents in the Kansas City community pay attention to this magazine so that they know what their children are creating and learning in school.

Senior Kevin Flores is a contributor to Baladí. He provides input from a student perspective on ways to improve the magazine and reach a greater audience. In the first issue, Flores wrote a story of his immigrant parents.

“Mi madre me enseñó a ser fuerte,” Flores said in his piece, which translates to “My mother taught me to be strong.”

The story he tells of his parents describes their hard work to create a better life for their children, and in this story, he states things he was grateful for that most kids don’t express.

Flores said the creators of Baladí are working to increase traffic for the magazine and display more Spanish-spoken word artists in the community. They are planning to host an open mic event where local spoken word artists and poets can come and express themselves on stage. Their aim is to host it in a coffee shop to obtain the utmost comfort for everyone, especially the artists.

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