National poetry series 'Latino/a Poetry Now' to conclude at Notre Dame

Author: Notre Dame News

Letras Latinas

Letras Latinas, the literary program of the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, in partnership with the Poetry Society of America, will be hosting the conclusion of “Latino/a Poetry Now,” a multiyear, multi-author initiative that has traveled to various college campuses around the United States. The series launched at Harvard University in November 2011 and winds down at the University of Notre Dame on Oct. 29-30 (Tuesday-Wednesday).

“The goal all along has been to provide a sampling of the thematically and aesthetically diverse work being produced by a newer generation of Latino and Latina poets,” said Francisco Aragón, curator of the series and director of Letras Latinas.

The event at Notre Dame is the capstone of a five-stop tour featuring the work of 15 artists. After presenting a slate of poets at Harvard, the series continued to Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., in spring 2012. The third and fourth installments took place at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minn., in October and the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz., in April, respectively. The poets who have participated so far have been Rosa Alcalá, Eduardo C. Corral and Aracelis Girmay at Harvard; William Archila and Ruth Irupé Sanabria at Georgetown; Xochiquetzal Candelaria, Lorena Duarte and Rigoberto González at Macalester; and J. Michael Martínez, Carmen Gimémez Smith and Roberto Tejada at the University of Arizona.

The final installment is being touted as a “grand finale” because it will feature a slate of four poets who will spend two days on the Notre Dame campus visiting classes and taking part in oral history interviews, in addition to giving their public reading at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30 (Wednesday) at the Eck Visitors Center auditorium.

The poets visiting Notre Dame are Blas Falconer, winner of the Maureen Egan Literary Award from Poets & Writers magazine, as well as a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA); Raina J. León, whose second collection of poems will be published in 2013 from Salmon Poetry in Ireland; Maria Melendez, whose two books were finalists for a PEN Center USA Award and the Colorado Book Award, respectively; and John Murillo, whose first book was a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the PEN Open Book Award. Murillo has also been a recipient of poetry fellowship from the NEA.

“Notre Dame hosted a dynamic Latino Poets Conference in 2002 that reached a broad audience. We’re especially excited to be hosting a group of younger poets this time around,” said Valerie Sayers, chair of Notre Dame’s Department of English and one of the event’s various co-sponsors.

The Poetry Society of America, in addition to its role as national co-presenter, has provided a home on its website for a series of online roundtable discussions involving each group of poets. “In many respects, this aspect of Latino/a Poetry Now is no less important than the actual readings themselves. We’ve been able to moderate and post on the Web engaging dialogues in which the poets converse and comment on each others’ latest books. Long after the readings are over, these published discussions will remain,” said Aragón.

The nation’s oldest poetry organization, the Poetry Society of America was founded in 1910 for the purpose of creating a public forum for the advancement, enjoyment and understanding of poetry. Through a diverse array of programs, initiatives, contests and awards, the society works to build a larger audience for poetry, to encourage a deeper appreciation of the art and to place poetry at the crossroads of American life.

Letras Latinas, the literary program of the Institute for Latino Studies, seeks to enhance the visibility, appreciation and study of Latino literature, both on and off the campus of the University of Notre Dame, with a focus on projects that identify and support emerging voices.

Contact: Francisco Aragón,