A&M International Professor Collects Traditional Folk Tales

Have you heard traditional folk tales that you enjoyed hearing as a child but never had a chance to tell to anyone? If that is the case, you can now have an audience in Dr. Norma Cantú, a Texas A&M International University English professor.

Cantú, who received a $3,000 grant from the University of Houston's "Recovering The U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage" program, is preparing a survey of traditional folk tales from Laredo and Nuevo Laredo and she encourages anyone who may remember such a story to share it with her.

Once the stories are collected, they will be taken to the Laredo Public Library and housed there to preserve them for present and future generations.

"Laredo, as the site of many important political and cultural events, has also harbored literary traditions that live among the people and may not have made it into print. Traditional stories such as those told in the oldest barrios, Azteca, Los Amores, Cantarranas, and Three Points, have become a mainstay of family gatherings," Cantú said.

The importance of preserving traditional stories cannot be underestimated, she said.

"In the best sense of the word, recording and transcribing the stories would indeed be a 'recovery' for future generations. The merit of such an undertaking is unquestionable, for the stories reveal much about how we, on the borderlands between Mexico and the United States, have kept our literary heritage alive, not just in song but in stories as well," she said.

The collection and publishing of the literary traditions of the borderlands will advance the goals of identifying, locating and recovering traditional literary genres such as pastorelas, coloquios, cuentos and poetry that survive in the minds of the residents of South Texas, she explained.

Cantú said that from the initial group of potential storytellers, five will be interviewed. The five will be selected based on their repertoire and style, she added.

For further information, please contact Dr. Norma Cantú at 326-2529, or by e-mail to necantu@tamiu.edu. University office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu