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The PALABRA Archive at the Library of Congress

Spotlight on Latinx Writers

Vergara, Camilo US border fence seen from the toll road to Mexicali, 2018. Digital photographs--Color. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

A special subset of the PALABRA Archive, "Spotlight on U.S. Hispanic Writers"; is a collaborative series of recorded interviews cosponsored by the Library of Congress' Hispanic Reading Room, the Literary Initiatives, and Letras Latinas External, the literary program of the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame. It features emerging and established American poets and prose writers of Hispanic descent who write predominantly in English. In each segment, the featured poet or writer participates in a moderated discussion with library curators as well as reads from his or her work.

Francisco Aragón

Francisco Aragón is the son of Nicaraguan immigrants and a native of San Francisco, California. He is the author of the book of poems Glow of Our Sweat (2010), Puerta del Sol (2005), and his work has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has also been the editor of various poetry publications such as The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry which earned the 2009 International Book Award for poetry in English. His honors included a VIDO Award, the Outstanding Latino/a Cultural Arts prize, and a CantoMundo fellowship.

William Archila

William Archila was born in San Ana, El Salvador in 1968. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1980 with his family due to the civil war. He is the author of The Art of Exile (2009) and The Gravediggers Archaeology (2013). His honors include the International Latino Book Award and Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize. Archila currently lives in Los Angeles, California.

Fred Arroyo

Fred Arroyo is the author of the novel The Region of Lost Names and a collection of short stories, Western Avenue and Other Fictions, a finalist for the 2008 Premio Aztlán Literary Prize. His stories have been featured in literary journals such as Pinyon, Crab Orchard Review, and Washington Square. Arroyo is interviewed by the Hispanic Reading Room's Georgette M. Dorn.

Richard Blanco

Richard Blanco is the author of four books of poetry, including City of a Hundred Fires, Nowhere but Here, Directions to the Beach of the Dead, and Looking for the Gulf Motel. He was the inaugural poet for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, being the first U.S. Hispanic and openly gay poet to be the U.S. inaugural poet. Blanco is interviewed by the Hispanic Reading Room's curator Catalina Gómez.

Brenda Cárdenas

Brenda Cárdenas is the author of two poetry collections in English and Spanish, From the Tongues of Brick and Stone (2005) and Boomerang (2009), and co-editor of Between the Heart and the Land/Entre el corazón y la tierra: Latina Poets in the Midwest (2001). She was the poet laureate of Milwaukee from 2010-2012. Cárdenas is interviewed by the Hispanic Reading Room's Catalina Gómez.

Eduardo C. Corral

Eduardo C. Corral is the author of Slow Lightning, selected by poet Carl Philips in 2012 for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. Corral is the first Hispanic poet to be published in the series, the oldest annual literary award in the country. Slow Lightning was also a finalist for the 2012 Publishing Triangle Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry. Corral is interviewed by the Hispanic Reading Room's Georgette M. Dorn.

Blas Falconer

Blas Falconer is the author of three poetry collections, including Forgive the Body This Failure (Four Way Books 2018), The Foundling Wheel (Four Way Books 2012), and A Question of Gravity and Light (University of Arizona Press 2007)—and a coeditor of two essay collections, The Other Latin@: Writing Against a Singular Identity (University of Arizona Press 2011) and Mentor and Muse: Essays from Poets to Poets (SIU Press 2010). His awards include an NEA Fellowship, the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange, and a Tennessee Individual Artist Grant. He is a poetry editor for The Los Angeles Review and Mentor and Muse (online), and teaches in the MFA at San Diego State University.

Gina Franco

Gina Franco was born in Clifton-Morenci, Arizona in 1968. She is the author of the book of poems The Keepsake Storm (2004). She has also published a variety of poems in literary journals, among them “The Stone is Worldless” and “Otherwise All Would Be God.” Her honors included a fellowship at Casa Libre en la Solano, Robert Chase Poetry Prize, and the Phillip Green Wright Lombard Prize for distinguished teachers. She served as art editor to Pilgrimage Magazine. Franco is currently teaching at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinios.

Diana García

Diana García is the author of Valley Language (2007) and When Living Was a Labor Camp (2000), and co-editor of Fire and Ink: An Anthology of Social Action Writing (2009). In 2001, she won the American Book Award. García is currently the director of the Creative Writing and Social Action Program at California State University Monterey Bay. García is interviewed by the Hispanic Reading Room's Catalina Gómez.

Carmen Giménez Smith

Carmen Giménez Smith is the author of four books of poetry, Odalisque in Pieces, The City She Was, Goodbye Flicker, and Milk and Filth. She is also the author of an autobiographical book, Bring Down the Little Birds, and her work was included in the fiction anthology My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me. Giménez Smith is interviewed by the Hispanic Reading Room's Catalina Gómez.

Laurie Ann Guerrero

Laurie Ann Guerrero is the author of three poetry collections, her most recent volume of poetry A Crown for Gumecindo (2015), A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying(2013) and Babies Under the Skin (2007). In 2014, Guerrero was appointed as Poet Laureate of the city of San Antonio and in 2015 she was appointed the Poet Laureate of the state of Texas for 2016. Guerrero is interviewed by the Hispanic Reading Room's Catalina Gómez.

Tim Z. Hernández

Tim Z. Hernández is the author of five books, three poetry collections Skin Tax(2004), Culture of Flow (2012), Natural Takeover of Small Things (2013), and two novels Breathing, In Dust (2010) and Mañana Means Heaven (2013). In 2014, he received the International Latino Book Award in historical fiction. Hernández is currently an Assistant Professor in the Bilingual M.F.A. program in the Creative Writing Department at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). Hernández is interviewed by the Hispanic Reading Room's Catalina Gómez.

Juan Felipe Herrera

Juan Felipe Herrera is the author of 28 books of poetry, novels for young adults, and collections for children, including Half the World in Light: New and Selected Poems (2008), winner of National Book Critics Circle Award and the International Latino Book Award. Juan Felipe Herrera’s honors and awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, two Latino Hall of Fame Poetry Awards, and a PEN / Beyond Margins Award. He served as the Poet Laureate of California from 2012-2015. In September of 2015, Herrera was appointed the United States Poet Laureate. Herrera is interviewed by the Hispanic Reading Room's Georgette M. Dorn.

Rigoberto González

Rigoberto González is the author of four books of poetry, So Often the Pitcher Goes to Water until It Breaks (1999), Other Fugitives and Other Strangers (2006), Black Blossoms (2011), and Unpeopled Eden (2013). For ten years he wrote a book review column with El Paso Times of Texas, and he has also written for the Poetry Foundation’s blog Harriet. González is interviewed by the Hispanic Reading Room's Catalina Gómez.

Manuel Paul López

Manuel Paul López's books and chapbook include These Days of Candy (Noemi Press, Akrilica Series 2017), The Yearning Feed (University of Notre Dame Press, 2013), winner of the Ernest Sandeen Poetry Prize, 1984 (Amsterdam Press, 2010) and Death of a Mexican and Other Poems (Bear Star Press, 2006). He has also been a co-editor of several anthologies generated from a community-based writers workshops. A CantoMundo fellow, his work has been published in Bilingual Review, Denver Quarterly, Fairy Tale Review, Hanging Loose, Huizache, New American Writing, Puerto del Sol, and ZYZZYVA, among others. He lives in San Diego and teaches at San Diego City College.

Valerie Martínez

Valerie Martínez is the author of five poetry collections, Absence, Luminescent (1999), World to World (2004), And They Called It Horizon (2010), This is How it Began (2010), and Each and Her (2010). She was the poet laureate of Santa Fe, New Mexico from 2008-2010.Martínez is interviewed by the Hispanic Reading Room's Catalina Gómez.

Maria Melendez

Maria Melendez is the author of two books of poetry, How Long She’ll Last in This World and Flexible Bones. Her essays have appeared in publications such as Ms. Magazine, Sojourns Magazine, and Isotope, and her work has been included in several anthologies, including Colors of Nature: Culture, Identity & the Natural World. Meléndez Kelsonis is interviewed by the Hispanic Reading Room's Georgette M. Dorn.

Dan Vera

Dan Vera is an American poet of Cuban descent born in southern Texas. He is the author of two books of poetry including Speaking Wiri Wiri (2013), and The Space Between our Danger and Delight (2009), and the editor of Imaniman: Poets Writing in the Anzalduan Borderlands. He was the co-founder of VRZHU Press, is the publisher of Souvenir Spoon Press, and serves as managing editor of the journal White Crane. With poet Kim Roberts, Vera curates DC Writers' Homes. He has served on the boards of Split This Rock and Rainbow History Project. He currently lives in Washington, DC.

Javier Zamora

Javier Zamora was born in La Herradura, El Salvador and immigrated to the United States at the age of nine. He is the author of the award-winning book Unaccompanied (2017) and the chapbook Nueve años inmigrantes/ Nine Immigrant Years. His honors included a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, an Olive B. O’Connor Fellowship in Creative Writing, a CantoMundo fellowship, and a Noble Writer for Writer’s Award, among others. His writings have appeared in publications such as Best New Poets, American Poetry Review, Poetry magazine and the New Republic.