Notre Dame Announces Winners of Two National Literary Prizes

June 04, 2012 • Andrew Deliyannides

Letras Latinas

Letras Latinas, the literary program of the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, has announced the winners of its two national literary competitions—the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize, which supports the publication of a first full-length book by a Hispanic poet residing in the United States; and the new Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize, which will usher into print a second or third book of poetry by a Hispanic writer.

The judge of the fifth edition of the Montoya Prize, California poet Francisco X. Alarcón, has selected Laurie Ann Guerrero as the prize winner. Guerrero’s manuscript, A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying, will be published by the University of Notre Dame Press next year. Guerrero, a native of Texas, is the author of the chapbook Babies Under the Skin and teaches at Palo Alto College in San Antonio, Texas. She will be joined by Alarcón for a public reading at Notre Dame upon the publication of her debut volume.

Poets Dan Vera and William Archila, residents of Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, respectively, are the winners of the inaugural edition of the Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize. Notre Dame English Professor Orlando Menes has selected Vera’s The Guide to Imaginary Monuments and Archila’s The Gravedigger’s Archeology for publication by Red Hen Press in 2013 and 2015, respectively. Vera, a South Texas native of Cuban descent, is the author of The Space Between Our Danger and Delight. Archila, a native of El Salvador, has one book of poetry in print as well: The Art of Exile. Both will be invited to read from their winning books in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C. Each will also be awarded a two-week writing residency at Ragdale, an artist colony in Lake Forest, Ill.

“With these two book prizes, Notre Dame has situated itself as a solid national presence in Latino poetry,” says Francisco Aragón, who directs Letras Latinas and conceived of both initiatives. “With this newest prize, it was especially meaningful to count on the collaboration of Orlando Menes, director of our Creative Writing Program and an award-winning poet himself.”

Menes will present his work, alongside Vera, at the Chicago reading next year.

In addition, as part of a new agreement between Letras Latinas and the Department of Creative Writing at the University of Texas at El Paso, winners of the Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize will be invited to read alongside their counterparts who have won the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize. Dan Vera and Laurie Ann Guerrero will inaugurate this partnership with a joint appearance in El Paso, Texas, in 2013.

Letras Latinas, the literary program of the Institute for Latino Studies, seeks to enhance the visibility, appreciation and study of Latino literature, both on and off the Notre Dame campus, with a focus on projects that identify and support emerging voices.

Established in 1949, the University of Notre Dame Press is a publisher of distinguished, scholarly books in a number of academic disciplines; in poetry and fiction; and in areas of interest to general readers.

Red Hen Press is committed to publishing works of literary excellence, supporting diversity and promoting literacy in our local schools. It seeks a community of readers and writers who are actively engaged in literature.

Ragdale supports writers and artists in a retreat setting and makes the arts more accessible to the public through three core program areas: the artists’ residency program, community programs and preservation of the historic site.

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Originally published at newsinfo.nd.edu.