Notre Dame partners with Poetry Society of America for national series

Author: Andrew Deliyannides

Letras Latinas

Letras Latinas, the literary program of the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies (ILS), is partnering with the Poetry Society of America (PSA) to present “Latino/a Poetry Now,” a national tour that will showcase fifteen poets in a span of two-and-a-half years. The joint initiative will open Nov. 8 (Tuesday) at Harvard University and conclude at Notre Dame Oct. 29–30, 2013.

“The aim is to provide a sampling of the thematically and aesthetically diverse work being produced by a newer generation of Latino and Latina poets,” says Francisco Aragón, director of Letras Latinas.

This is the latest in a series of collaborations between Letras Latinas and the Poetry Society of America. “We are extremely happy to have a hand in facilitating programs that underscore what a rich mosaic American poetry is,” says Alice Quinn, PSA’s executive director and former long-time poetry editor at The New Yorker.

The Nov. 8 inaugural event at Harvard will feature Rosa Alcalá, whose poems and translations have appeared widely; Eduardo C. Corral, recent winner of the Yale Younger Poets Award; and Aracelis Girmay, recent winner of the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award.

“The Woodberry Poetry Room is honored to partner with Letras Latinas in the launch of Latino/a Poetry Now, a national reading series that celebrates vital innovators in the Latino/a literary community and their pivotal contributions to contemporary poetics in America and worldwide,” says Christina Davis, curator of the Woodberry Poetry Room, co-sponsor of the Harvard reading.

“We’re also interested in deepening the conversation surrounding this poetry—on the web,” Aragón says. The PSA, in addition to partnering with Notre Dame, will be publishing on its website a succession of roundtable discussions by each group of presenting poets, starting with Alcalá, Corral and Girmay.

The series will continue at Georgetown University on March 20, 2012, in collaboration with the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, as well as the Library of Congress’ Hispanic Division and Poetry and Literature Center. The second installment will feature Salvadoran-born poet William Archila and Argentinian-born poet Ruth Irupé Sanabria. Archila’s distinctions include an Emerging Writers Fellowship from The Writer’s Center. Sanabria is the author of “The Strange House Testifies.”

On Oct. 10, 2012, Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minn., will host poets Xochiquetzal Candelaria, a former recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) fellowship; Lorena Duarte, a member of the Twin Cities’ Palabrista collective; and former Guggenheim Fellow Rigoberto González, also a recipient of PSA’s 2011 Shelley Memorial Award.

University of Arizona’s Poetry Center will welcome Carmen Gimenez Smith, winner of the Juniper Poetry Prize; J. Michael Martinez, winner of the Walt Whitman Prize; and Roberto Tejada, whose distinctions include a poetry translation fellowship from the NEA. This penultimate installment of “Latino/a Poetry Now” is slated for April 25, 2013.

The initiative will conclude with two days of activities on Oct. 29 and 30, 2013 at Notre Dame. The four invited poets are Blas Falconer, winner of the Maureen Egen Literary Award from Poets & Writers magazine; Raina J. León, whose second collection of poems is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in Ireland; Maria Melendez, whose two books were finalists for a PEN Center USA West 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. In addition to visiting classes and reading from their work at a public event, the poets will be taking part in Letras Latinas’ long-standing Oral History Project.

“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,” says Valerie Sayers, chair of Notre Dame’s English Department, one of the event’s co-sponsors.

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.

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 PSA 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.

Contact: Francisco Aragón,