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Island Waves

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi

Island Waves

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi

Island Waves

TAMUCC Professors Share Their Stories at Art Museum of South Texas’ Third Thursday

TAMUCC Professors Share Their Stories at Art Museum of South Texas Third Thursday

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMUCC) professors and local authors Dr. Lizbette Ocasio-Russe and Dr. Chuck Etheridge performed readings from their novels “Loverbar” and “Chagford Revisited” at the Art Museum of South Texas’ Third Thursday community event.

Dr. Ocasio-Russe’s, newly released, “Loverbar” delves into the lives of LGBTQIA+ Puerto Ricans navigating post-Hurricane Maria challenges and political corruption. In the process of writing this, she drew inspiration from her personal experiences as a Puerto Rican and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.

“Loverbar” highlights the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and the governor’s subsequent revelation of corrupt behavior. 

Dr. Ocasio-Russe emphasized the significant role played by the LGBTQIA+ community in protesting and ousting the governor, who engaged in corrupt practices. He  also insulted women and the LGBTQIA+ community, and aimed to raise awareness of the ongoing struggles of queer people of color, particularly non-binary and transgender individuals who endure daily violence.

“The book is intended to show the world what the LGBTQIA+ community did and what they continue to do to help Puerto Rico, and also to argue for the rights of LGBTQIA+ people of color, specifically non-binary and trans who are suffering terrible violence every single day, not just in Puerto Rico, but everywhere.” 

Dr. Ocasio-Russe discussed the challenges encountered while writing the book, including transitioning from a dissertation to a book format. She ensured she did not want to speak for others, but wanted to accurately portray what she and the people around her experienced. 

“Taking it from, like, a dissertation and turning it into a book was the first challenge. I think another challenge was making sure that I was speaking for anyone. I made sure this is from my experience and the experience of people directly around me that we were living together and experiencing all of these things. So that was something, I don’t know that it was a challenge, but it was something that I wanted to be aware of how I was portraying everything and everyone.”

Dr. Ocasio-Russe also mentioned the difficulties of revising and editing, acknowledging the need to embrace constructive criticism.

“The pains of editing and revising, and when something is your baby, and it’s like your first thing, it hurts to chop it up. That was a challenge, but ultimately, a really good experience. When you learn to do those things with your work, it cuts down your ego. And it helps you appreciate what criticism is, making sure not to take things personally.”

Additionally, she shared that her excitement about the book’s release coincided with Pride Month, and that it was not initially planned but became an intentional decision. 

“Initially, the publishing date kept getting pushed back because of delays during the editing process. So it ended up getting pushed back to the summer. And when I went to schedule the book launch, I was like, Pride Month, definitely. I looked at the schedule online to ensure it didn’t interfere with other pride events. And yeah, it was very intentional, and I don’t know that the experience would have been as magical and positive had it not been released during Pride Month.”

Dr. Chuck Etheridge was also promoting his book “Chagford Revisited.” The story follows a man who falls in love with England through the lens of shows like “Downton Abbey.” Believing the fantasies brought to life on the TV screen, he purchases a house where a famous novel was written, intending to live out his dream of becoming an English Lord. However, he soon realizes that his fantasy is not what he expected, forcing him to go on outrageous endeavors to save his home.

While writing the book, Dr. Etheridge discussed the challenges he faced, and emphasized the importance of consistency in the writing process, shedding light on the importance of perseverance and revising your work until it is in a publishable state. 

“The biggest thing is just sticking with it. It’s easy to write a short story here and there but to write regularly and consistently until you complete it, and then you get it done, and you got to revise it and get into decent shape, and then find somebody who wants to publish it. So there are a lot of steps to that as well. So I would say the consistency of effort is the hardest thing to do because you’ve got everything else going on, other than just your writing.”

Dr. Etheridge aims to create a lighthearted and enjoyable experience for readers and hopes that his writing will make them laugh and provide a temporary escape from life’s challenges. 

“I hope people laugh. I hope it makes their day a little bit lighter.  I think most people write humor because life is hard. And things that can make the day a little bit easier are valuable, and that’s what I hope people take away from my writing.”

Etheridge encourages aspiring writers and students to share their voices. He emphasizes that everyone’s story is valuable, regardless of age or background.

“Another thing I want to say to students and writers is to be fearless. Your voice is just as valid as anybody else. You know, my voice doesn’t count any more than anyone else. Your point of view is unique. It’s special. Don’t be afraid to get out there.”

“Third Thursday,” presented by Kleberg Bank and Weird Corpus, is a monthly community night at the Art Museum of South Texas open to all ages. The event takes place on the third Thursday of each month and invites the public to view the art galleries, live music, yoga, and local vendors. The next Third Thursday will be taking place on July 20.

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Dante Ortiz, Reporter
Dante Ortiz is a senior English major with an emphasis in literary studies. During their free time, they enjoy reading books, painting, and binge-watching documentaries on Netflix.

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