Letras Latinas

Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at the Institute for Latino Studies (ILS), strives to enhance the visibility, appreciation, and study of Latino literature both on and off the campus of the University of Notre Dame—with an emphasis on programs that support newer voices, and foster a sense of community among writers. 

Current Programs


Letras Latinas Blog publishes author interviews, photos of our events, and other mission-driven content. It serves as a resource for information about, as well as online documentation of, Letras Latinas’ various programs. The blog also provides an opportunity for select Notre Dame students to acquire and hone their skills in literary journalism.



The Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize supports the publication of a first book by a Latino/a poet in the United States, in collaboration with University of Notre Dame Press. The Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize Initiative (AMPPI) is a current campaign to bolster the prize’s fiscal sustainability. Proceeds will also help underwrite the publication of a posthumous book of poetry by Andrés Montoya, as well as a one-day symposium upon the book’s publication. The next deadline for the Prize is January 15, 2016. 


The Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize, in collaboration with Red Hen Press in Pasadena, CA, supports the publication of a second or third book of poems by a Latino/a poet in the United States. The next deadline is January 15, 2016.


“PINTURA : PALABRA, a project in ekphrasis” is a multi-year initiative that encourages new Latino writing inspired by art, above all: “Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art”—a  Smithsonian American Art Museum traveling exhibit. Aspects of this initiative include ekphrastic writing workshops; inviting writers to engage with the exhibit; and partnering with literary journals to publish portfolios of ekphrastic writing. The exhibit debuted in Washington, D.C. in 2013 and concludes its tour in Wilmington, DE in 2016.



The Letras Latinas Writers Initiative strives to forge a supportive network among Latino/a poets and writers who are enrolled in, or who have obtained degrees from, graduate programs in creative writing. Aspects of this initiative include an annual weekend gathering of MFA candidates from around the country. Also key to this initiative is collaboration with Notre Dame’s graduate creative writing program in the form of its new ILS-sponsored assistantship.



AKRILICA is a co-publishing venture with Noemi Press which seeks to showcase new innovative Latino writing. The series name recalls the groundbreaking, bilingual poetry book from the eighties by distinguished Chicano writer Juan Felipe Herrera.



The Letras Latinas Oral History Project is a collaborative effort with the ILS librarian/archivist and produces video interviews of Latino/a writers visiting the Notre Dame campus with the aim of making them available as an online resource for students, scholars, and the community at large.



The John K. Walsh Residency Fellowship (formerly the Letras Latinas Residency Fellowship) is a partnership with the Anderson Center in Red Wing, MN, in which a writer working on a first book is awarded a one-month artist residency. Named after Notre Dame alum (‘61) and distinguished hispanista, John K. Walsh (1939 – 1990), this program also recognizes and highlights the indelible role mentors often play in the lives of emerging Latino/a writers.  

Concluded Programs (selection)

Latino/a Poetry Now was a multi-year partnership with the Poetry Society of America (PSA) which resulted in five multi-author readings from 2011-2013 at: Harvard University, Georgetown University, Macalester College, the University of Arizona, and the University of Notre Dame. This program also produced a series of online roundtable discussions with the participants of the initiative, which were published on the website of the PSA.


Poetas y Pintores: Artists Conversing with Verse was multidisciplinary initiative that paired twelve Latino/a artists with twelve Latino/a and poets, resulting in a traveling exhibition that landed in New York, NY, Los Angeles, CA, San Diego, CA, Michigan City, IN, Albuquerque, NM, and Logan, UT, in addition to Saint Mary's College in Indiana where the project was launched in January of 2006. A joint effort with the Center for Women's InterCultural Leadership (CWIL) at Saint Mary's, the project was funded, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).



During its modest life-span, Latino Poetry Review (LPR) published book reviews, essays, and interviews with an eye towards spurring inquiry and dialogue. LPR recognized that Latino/a poets in the 21st century embrace, and work out of, a multitude of aesthetics. With this in mind, the critical focus was the poem and its poetics. LPR produced a number in 2008 and another in 2009.


Named after a volcano in Nicaragua, Momotombo Press was a small literary press that published new voices in Latino literature in the chapbook format. The press aimed to provide emerging artists with a significant publication at a crucial phase in their careers. Momotombo Press was founded by Letras Latinas director Francisco Aragón in 2000, and re-located to the ILS in 2003. It published its last title in 2009. 

Letras Latinas is under the direction of ILS faculty member, Francisco Aragón. It was constituted as a unit in 2004. 2014 marks its ten year anniversary.

For more information, or questions, write: faragon@nd.edu