Saturday, August 16, 2008


The winner of the 2008 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize
is Paul Martínez Pompa for his manuscript, Men Watching Men.

"This is one tough, smart poet. The poems of Paul Martínez Pompa are gritty and visceral, but never cross the line into sensationalism. They are poems that vividly evoke the urban world, especially Chicago, without ever lapsing into urban cliché. They are poems that seek justice for the Latino community without ever resorting to the overheated language that all too often consigns poetry of social conscience to oblivion.

Martínez Pompa is a poet of the image, a poet of strong diction, a poet of meticulous craft. He puts that craft at the service of los olvidados, the forgotten ones, from the usual suspects brutalized by police to factory workers poisoned by their environment, from the victim of a homophobic beating in the boys’ bathroom to the body of Juan Doe at the Cook County Coroner’s Office. Yet this poet’s keen eye, sense of humor and gift for irony help these poems to rise above the wreckage of their circumstances. Nowhere else will you find a poem celebrating a Mexican grandmother’s phone call to the local Pizza Hut.

Martínez Pompa’s observation of a garbage truck may remind us of Williams and his poem about a fire engine; his compassion for the damned may bring Whitman or Hughes to mind. Paul Martínez Pompa, however, is very much his own man and his own poet, independent and honest. His is a unique voice, speaking the truth with clarity. Welcome."

--Martín Espada, Judge
2008 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize
The Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize, named after the late California native and author of the award-winning book, The Iceworker Sings, supports the publication of a first book by a Latino or Latina poet in collaboration with University of Notre Dame Press. The Prize provides a space for artists who, while part of the largest and fastest growing minority in the United States, are also increasingly diverse in their modes of literary expression. The Prize, therefore, does not privilege any particular style, subject matter, or aesthetic. While not losing sight of the traditions and conditions that gave rise to that literary expression, the Prize has as its goal to nurture the various paths that Latino poetry is taking in the 21st Century. The Prize is awarded every other year and administered by Letras Latinas, the literary program of the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Letras Latinas seeks to enhance the visibility, appreciation, and study of Latino literature both on and off the campus of the University of Notre Dame with a focus on projects that identify and support emerging Latino and Latina writers. Letras Latinas actively seeks to collaborate with individuals and organizations to more effectively carry out its mission.


Rich said...

Well-deserved prize for a highly deserving poet.

Rich Villar.

Lisa Alvarado said...

Congratulation to Paul for his sharp-edged, insightful poetry. We are all lucky. And thanks, too, to Martin Espada for slicing the brush and making a path...


Eduardo C. Corral said...

Congats, Paul!

Maria said...

Paul, from a great reading in Austin to a much-deserved recognition... congratulations!! Francisco and Martin, thank you for keeping this great venue for new work open...and Martin, kind wishes for you and yours in your time of struggle.

Toasting this new book with ice water on a hot Utah night,


Diana Marie Delgado said...

Paul, this is great news. Sending you a heartfelt congrats!

Emmy said...

Such wonderful, wonderful news. I have loved Paul's poems for years, have taught his PEPPER SPRAY chapbook many times, and I'm thrilled that he is the next recipient of this prize! Congrats!

Zoey said...

Congratulations! Very well deserved and I cannot wait to read your book, Paul!