A renowned group of 12 poets and scholars from across the country convened at the University of Notre Dame from Sept. 27-28 for a dynamic cultural event featuring talks, conversations, and performances that showcased the vitality and diversity of contemporary poetry.
The two-day gathering — co-presented by Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies (ILS) and the Initiative on Race and Resilience (IRR) — offered four panel sessions that dove into the work of Afro-Latinx poets as part of ILS's Hispanic Heritage Month celebration.
Two evening sessions featured readings by the visiting poets. All of the events were open to the public and were also livestreamed, recorded, and archived.
Francisco Aragón, a professor in ILS and director of the Letras Latinas literary initiative, conceived the two-day Afro-Latinx Poetry Now event as a way to contribute to ongoing conversations in the literary community on issues to do with race, equity, and inclusion.
“In the wake of our nation’s summer of racial reckoning two years ago, many cultural organizations underwent a period of self-scrutiny," Aragón said. "A number of us realized how much work remains to be done. These two days offer an opportunity for our students, our campus, and our local and global communities to experience the artistry of some of our finest poets.”
Each day, the gathering will open with an early afternoon session in which three of the visiting poets will each offer their insights into the work of an AfroLatin poet whose work they particularly admire. Then, in the late afternoon, six invited scholars will devote two sessions to panel presentations on the work of the six poets in attendance.
To cap off the night, the gathering’s two evening sessions will feature the six poets, in groups of three, performing 15-minute sets of their work, followed by a Q&A with the audience.
The poets will be introduced by MFA graduate students in Notre Dame’s Creative Writing Program. Books will be available for purchase and signing at these evening events.
Poets in attendance include:
- Roberto Carlos Garcia — Author of What Can I Tell You? Selected Poems & essay collection Traveling Freely, among other books
- Darrel Alejandro Holnes — Author of Migrant Psalms & Stepmotherland
- Raina J. León — Author of black god mother this body & Boogeyman Dawn, among other books
- Jasminne Mendez: —Author of City Without Altar & Islands Apart: Becoming Dominican American, among other books
- Yesenia Monitilla — Author of The Pink Box & Muse Found in a Colonized Body
- John Murillo — Winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award & author of Up Jump the Boogie & Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry
“These two days offer an opportunity for our students, our campus, and our local and global communities to experience the artistry of some of our finest poets.”
In addition to these public sessions, “Afro-Latinx Poetry Now” will include classroom visits to courses including Aragon’s "Latinx Poetry Now" class, as well as sessions in the departments of Africana Studies, Romance Languages and Literatures, and English.
Afro-Latinx Poetry Now is being co-presented by the Initiative on Race and Resilience (IRR), established in 2021.
“Our mission at IRR is to support communities of color; therefore, we welcome the opportunity to celebrate Afro-Latinx poets and poetry,” said Mark Sanders, IRR’s founding director.
Luis R. Fraga, ILS director, added: “Although the work we do at the Institute emerges from many disciplines, the arts, particularly the literary arts with our storytellers, playwrights and poets, is where our community’s stories are most compellingly told. This makes this two-day gathering a touchstone, not only for our campus community, but the community at large.”