Inaugural Montoya Poetry Prize awarded to Latina poet

Author: Shannon Chapla and Caroline Domingo

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Sheryl Luna, a lecturer in the Department of English at the Metropolitan State College of Denver, will receive the inaugural Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize, given by the University of Notre Dames Institute for Latino Studies (ILS).p. The prize, which is the first of its kind in the United States, honors a full-length manuscript by a Latino/a poet who has yet to publish a book. “Pity the Drowned Horses” will be published by the University of Notre Dame Press, after which Luna will visit Notre Dame to read from her work.p. “In ‘Pity the Drowned Horses,’ Sheryl carves out of the El Paso landscape the music of the borderlands where loss and acceptance converge,” said Robert Vasquez, the final judge for the prize and an award-winning poet. “She exquisitely captures, like no other poet before her, the unsung positive capability of the desert. Her syntax, sometimes raw and edgy, creates a tableau where everything rushes toward ‘our wild needall sweat, all shiver.The overall effect is simply mesmerizing.”p. Coordinated by ILS fellow and poet Francisco Aragón, the prize honors the late Andrés Montoya, the author of the award-winning collection, “The Ice Worker Sings.” Montoya was the son of the renowned Chicano artist Malaquias Montoya, who was one of the first ILS fellows.p. “I modeled the prize after the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, which is a first book award for African-American poets,” Aragón said. “I noticed there was a first book prize for Latino fiction writers, but not for Latino poets.”p. Luna, a finalist for the 2003 National Poetry Series book awards and the Perugia Press Intro Award for a first or second book by a woman, has had poems from her winning manuscript published widely in literary journals across the country, including The Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, The Amherst Review, and Kalliope: A Journal of Womens Art and Literature.p. A graduate of Texas Tech University, Luna holds master’s degrees from Texas Woman’s University and the University of Texas, El Paso, and a doctorate from the University of North Texas.p. The ILS was established in 1999 to promote understanding and appreciation of the Latino experience in the United States through research, education and outreach. Its areas of study include Latino spirituality, art, culture, literature, history, politics and socioeconomic conditions.p.

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