Poets discuss their first books in collaborative Letras Latinas initiative

Author: Institute for Latino Studies

Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, is pleased to announce “Curated Conversation(s): a Latinx Poetry Show”—a partnership with The Writer’s Center and Duende District Bookstore. The program pairs poets with interlocutors of their choosing for in-depth discussions on their first books. The conversations will be recorded on Zoom and posted on The Writer’s Center website every month for the next year. A parallel activity will involve book club discussions on the twelve highlighted collections throughout the duration of the initiative.

Anthony Cody Borderland Apocrypha 1

The first segment will premiere on February 23rd at 8 PM EST and feature National Book Award finalist Anthony Cody. He will be discussing Borderland Apocrypha (Omnidawn, 2020) with award-winning poet Keith S. Wilson. “Being able to talk with a poet like Keith about my book is a dream conversation for me. To virtually sit and chat with someone who I have felt a kinship with in both writing and the journey of writing since our first interaction helps me see into a beyond I have not yet imagined,” said Cody, whose conversation with Wilson was recently recorded.

The initiative was conceived by Letras Latinas director and ILS faculty fellow Francisco Aragón. “Promoting a new book during COVID has been a challenge. But thanks to an Emergency Grant from the Poetry Foundation, we’re able to offer this program as a way to celebrate these new voices,” Aragón said. “And I’m so thankful to have The Writer’s Center and Duende District, whose work I’ve admired for years, as partners,” he added.

“At The Writer’s Center and Poet Lore, our mission is to support writers. Curated Conversation(s) allows us to help debut Latinx poets to find new audiences for their work, and at the same time share this striking new work with our family of writers. Most importantly, we want to expand that family by engaging with communities we haven’t historically been connected with,” said Zach Powers, Director of Communications at TWC, which is located in Bethesda, MD.

Episodes two through six will feature: Jacqueline Balderrama discussing Now In Color (Perugia Press, 2020) with Cynthia Hogue; Benjamin Garcia  discussing Thrown In the Throat (Milkweed Editions, 2020) with Dana Levin; Dr. Grisel Y. Acosta discussing Things to Pack On the Way to Everywhere (Get Fresh Books, 2021) with Yesenia Montilla; Michael Torres discussing An Incomplete List of Names (Beacon Press, 2020) with Diana Marie Delgado; and Caridad Moro-Gronlier discussing Tortillera (Texas Review Press, 2021) with Richard Blanco.

The book club component of the program involves commissioning moderators to facilitate live group discussions on Zoom. Poet Sara Borjas led the session on Borderland Apocrypha on February 3rd, and poets David Campos, Ruth Irupé Sanabria and Emma Trelles are slated to lead the discussions on Now in Color, Things to Pack On the Way to Everywhere and Tortillera, respectively, thus far. Duende District will distribute books. “One of the cornerstones of our mission is fostering conversation in the community, especially about works by writers of color. The pandemic has prompted us to shift much of our activity to online platforms so we’re thrilled to have a hand in this aspect of this program,” said Angela Spring, owner and founder of Duende District.

Debut poets slated for the second half of the season include:  Sara Lupita Olivares, author of Migratory Sound (University of Arkansas Press, 2020); Ricardo Alberto Maldonado, author of The Life Assignment (Four Way Books, 2020); Liliana Valenzuela, author of Codex of Love: Bendita Ternura (Flowersong Books, 2020); Antonio Lopez, author of Gentefication (Four Way Books, 2021); M. Soledad Caballero, author of I Was a Bell (Red Hen Press, 2021); and Darrel Alejandro Holnes, author of Stepmotherland (University of Notre Dame Press, 2022).

To learn when the first six segments will premiere, as well as more about the poets and their interlocutors, visit: https://www.writer.org/curatedconversations/

About Letras Latinas
Letras Latinas 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. https://latinostudies.nd.edu/news-events/letras-latinas/

About The Writer’s Center
The Writer’s Center empowers writers and those who aspire to write through workshops, events, and creative collaboration. They also support and celebrate those who publish. https://www.writer.org/

About Duende District
Duende District is a pop-up boutique bookstore for & by people of color, where all are welcome. They specialize in carrying the best new adult & children’s books by BIPOC authors/illustrators in English & Spanish. https://www.duendedistrict.com/

Contact: faragon@nd.edu