ILS faculty member named finalist for national prize

Author: Institute for Latino Studies

Francisco Aragon

Francisco Aragón, director of Letras Latinas, the Institute for Latino Studies’ literary initiative, has been named a finalist for the 2017 Freedom Plow Award for Poetry & Activism, given by Split This Rock, a national poetry organization based in Washington, D.C. Aragón is one of four finalists who will be honored at a gala ceremony and reading at the Arts Club of Washington on the evening of April 21. The winner will be announced the week of March 13.

The award, made possible through the generosity of the CrossCurrents Foundation, recognizes and honors a poet or poetry collective doing innovative and transformative work at the intersection of poetry and social justice. The prize, like Split This Rock’s biennial poetry festival, at which Aragón was a featured reader in 2010, is presented every other year.

Among the Letras Latinas programs singled out by Split This Rock were, PINTURA: PALABRA, a multi-year initiative involving Latino/a writing inspired by Latino/a art, and Letras Latinas Blog, for its “insightful interviews with Latinx poets.”

“I’d like to think that being a finalist for this award is an acknowledgment of the particular value—given the current political climate—of the poetry emerging from our various Latino/a communities. Letras Latinas strives to support and celebrate our storytellers,” Aragón said. He also made light of the other Latino/a poet joining him. “I’m pleased to be sharing finalist status with Christopher Soto, whose work with Undocupoets I’ve been drawing inspiration from for quite some time now,” he added.

Letras Latinas is a member of the recently formed Poetry Coalition, a national group of twenty-two nonprofit organizations working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and the important contribution poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. Their inaugural collaborative effort, being carried out throughout this month of March, is titled: “Because We Come From Everything: Poetry & Migration,” borrowing a line of verse from current U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera.


Francisco Aragón is the author of two books: Puerta del Sol (2005) and Glow of Our Sweat (2010), as well as editor of the anthology, The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry (2007), these latter two winners of International Latino Book Awards, respectively. He has new poems forthcoming in the multi-genre anthology, Wandering Song: Central American Writing in the United States, set for release in mid-April of this year.



To learn more aboutSplit This Rock, the 2017 Freedom Plow Award, and its finalists, visit:


To learn more about the Poetry Coalition’s pilot collaborative initiative,

“Because We Come from Everything: Poetry & Migration, visit: