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Notre Dame to Host Gathering of Latino Poets

Author: Arts and Letters


The University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies (ILS), in close collaboration with the Creative Writing Program, will present a conference, “Angels of the Americlypse,” on October 28 and 29, 2015, featuring Latino/a poetry readings, literary translation, and roundtable discussions.

The event—held in conjunction with Letras Latinas, the ILS literary initiative—will include readings by acclaimed poets Rosa Alcalá, Carmen Giménez Smith, Roberto Tejada, and Rodrigo Toscano.

“This gathering exists at the nexus of politics, poetics, translation, publishing, scholarship, and activism,” said Joyelle McSweeney, associate professor of English and director of Notre Dame’s Creative Writing Program. “We’re excited to welcome our accomplished guests into our vibrant community.”

Angels of the Americlypse, a recent anthology of new Latino/a writing that serves as backdrop of the conference, aims to further the dialogue among Latino/a poets seeking to enrich the field.

“As the conversation about race evolves, so do the shifting boundaries and markers of Latinidad—and, in the case of this anthology and many of the most exciting works being written by Latinos, aesthetics itself,” said Smith, a co-editor of the volume.

On the mornings of October 28 and 29, graduate students in the Creative Writing Program will conduct oral history video interviews with the four poets in the ILS Julian Samora Library.

At 2 p.m. October 28 in McKenna Hall, Alcalá, Giménez Smith, Tejada and Toscano will take part in a public conversation titled, “Latino Poetry in Relation.” The event will be introduced and moderated by Michael Dowdy, an associate professor of English at Hunter College of the City University of New York.

Then, at 7:30 p.m., the four poets will give a collaborative performance of their work at the Eck Auditorium in the Eck Visitors Center (a pre-reading reception begins at 6:15 p.m.). The event will be live-streamed for a national audience.

“This is a first for us,” said Francisco Aragón, ILS faculty member and director of Letras Latinas. “We have reached out to the Poetry Foundation in Chicago and the Academy of American Poets in New York, among others, to help us get the word out. The Poetry Center at the University of Arizona will be hosting a viewing party in Tucson. Our hope is to have a good portion of the national poetry community ‘attending’ our event via the Web.”

On Thursday, October 29, the poets will also participate in a roundtable talk at 2 p.m. in McKenna Hall. The discussion, “The Politics of Translation,” will be introduced and moderated by Johannes Göransson, assistant professor of English at Notre Dame.

The Angels of the Americlypse conference builds on the legacy of a Latino poetry conference held at Notre Dame in fall 2002, organized in large part by Professor of English Orlando Menes, who also serves as poetry editor of Notre Dame Review.

“These are poets who take estrangement seriously—not as an attitude, not as a fad, not as an affection—but as a heartfelt call to speak their truth in communal fellowship, “ said Menes, referring to Alcalá, Giménez Smith, Tejada, and Toscano.

Letras Latinas strives to enhance the visibility, appreciation, and study of Latino literature both on and off campus. The initiative emphasizes programs that support newer voices and foster a sense of community among writers.

The Creative Writing Program at Notre Dame is a course of study with the flexibility for students to initiate a variety of literary lives through exposure to a range of aesthetics, a global literary orientation, coursework in historical and contemporary literary forms, and interaction with visiting authors and scholars.

In addition to the Creative Writing Program, campus co-sponsors include the Henkels Lecture Fund at the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, the Department of American Studies, the Department of English, the Graduate School, the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, and the José E. Fernández Hispanic Studies Initiative.