Letras Latinas: Argentine-British Poet Leo Boix to debut English-language collection at Notre Dame Wednesday Night

Author: Brittany Blagburn

Leo Boix Updated Copy Sept 21

Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies (ILS), is pleased to partner with the Creative Writing program to present the work of British Latinx poet Leo Boix on September 29th at 7:00 PM EST.

The Zoom event will celebrate Ballad of a Happy Immigrant, Boix’s English-language debut, and will feature two parts. Register here to attend.

Part one will consist of five special guests each reading and responding to a poem from Ballad of a Happy Immigrant. Guests include Letras Latinas' own Francisco Aragón as well as Antonio López, Janel Pineda, Alexandra Lytton Regalado, and Yvette Siegert.

Part two will consist of a conversation between Yvette Siegert and Leo Boix about the state of British Latinx poetry, as well as Boix reading from his new collection.

Ballad of a Happy Immigrant (Penguin UK) puts the work of several authors in conversation with his poetry. From Peruvian writer Jorge Eduardo Eielson to Irish and American poets Louis MacNiece and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, as well as Argentine writer and editor Victoria Ocampo, elements of fellow poets are scattered throughout Boix’s verse.

In an interview with Letras Latinas, he explained how a “crucial part of his poetics” is the act of “constant dialogue" with other authors and ideas.

It's this dialogue that allows him to move in and out of various genre forms. Connection and interaction with other works is important because he believes it is essential “to understand that we are part of a much larger community of writers and poets with a long and rich history.” This appreciation for collectivity has influenced Boix’s own authorial style and voice.

Ballad of a Happy Immigrant features multiple "(mis)translations" that highlight his unique style and voice, Boix says. These carefully curated (mis)translations allow him to respond to “aspects of poems that [he] feel[s] speak to [him] directly.” In this way, Boix’s book introduces readers to his psyche, creating a home on the page for his lived experiences.

Boix is able to “look and interrogate the world in a more diverse and profound way” through the Latinx and immigrant lenses. These perspectives allow Boix to express an artistic vision not always present in mainstream media.

As a first-generation Argentine living in the UK, Boix “look[s] at the world (and poetry in general) with new and fresh eyes—the eyes of an immigrant.” The poet works to create allegories that express the “diaspora experience” without feeling limited by the work of the past.

One way he does this is by weaving birds into his work as literary symbols. A lifelong interest in the persistent and ubiquitous winged creatures has shown Boix “what it means to be in constant movement, trying to survive at all costs.”

Register here to attend the event.

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

Letras Latinas is a founding member of the Poetry Coalition, a national alliance of organizations working together to promote the values poets bring to our culture and the important contribution poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds.