Letras Latinas joins poetry organizations from the across the United States for national initiative

Author: Institute for Latino Studies

Poco Instagram 2019

Letras Latinas, the ILS’ literary initiative, will join more that 20 organizations in eleven cities nationwide, this March, as part of the Poetry Coalition’s 2019 program to launch “What Is It, Then, Between Us?: Poetry & Democracy,” the coalition’s third annual gesture. This programming is made possible in part by a grant from the Ford Foundation.


For its contribution to the initiative, Letras Latinas has commissioned award-winning poet Natalie Scenters-Zapico to compose poems that engage with the theme of Poetry & Democracy. On March 21, Scenters-Zapico will visit South Valley Academyin Albuquerque, NM, whose entire 9th grade will have read her book, The Verging Cities. Scenters-Zapico’s new work will be unveiled at a public event at the National Hispanic Cultural Center on the evening of March 22. In addition, Albuquerque Poet Laureate Michelle Otero and New Mexico Centennial Poet Levi Romero will co-host a late afternoon poetry walk through Albuquerque’s Río Grande Bosque on March 22, as well. Along the walk, the poets will read and invite attendees to reflect on Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” and Scenters-Zapico’s “When the Desert Made Us Visible.” Otero and Romero, and others, will also present work on the theme of Poetry & Democracy on March 22. This event will be presented in partnership with NHCC’s History and Literary Arts Program, headed by former Sante Fe Poet Laureate Valerie Martínez, as well as Duende District Bookstore, now based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


“It’s gratifying to be partnering with such vital organizations in New Mexico. Letras Latinas has always strived to have a national presence, and partnering with the National Hispanic Cultural Center helps us do that,” said Francisco Aragón, the director of Letras Latinas. “We’re also pleased that Natalie Scenters-Zapico, with the assistance of the Poet Laureate of Albuquerque, will be visiting a school—all as part of our increased efforts to place Latinx writers in community spaces,” Aragón added.


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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 proud to be a founding member of the Poetry Coalition, a group of organizations working to promote the values poets bring to our culture and the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds.