Wednesday, February 11, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Letras Latinas Residency Fellowship:

John Chávez



John Chávez
, current resident of Lincoln, Nebraska, is the second recipient of the "Letras Latinas Residency Fellowship." He will receive $1,000 and be in residence for one month this June at the Anderson Center in Red Wing, Minnesota. This annual distinction solidifies the partnership between the literary program of the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame and the Anderson Center. The aim of the initiative is to identify and support an emerging Latino or Latina writer for whom a one month residency would suppose a crucial boost. There is no application process.


"We are very excited about hosting John Chávez this June, and especially
pleased that he is a poet and critic since one of the Anderson Center’s mission is to encourage writers who work in a range of genres, including scholars. We're also looking forward to a long-standing relationship with Letras Latinas.”

---Robert Hedin
Executive Director, Anderson Center


John Chávez is a Colorado native and spent a significant part of his childhood in southwestern Colorado and northern New Mexico in the San Luis Valley.

As a Master of Fine Arts candidate at New Mexico State University, he taught creative writing at Santa Teresa High School as part of the Writers-in-the-Schools Program, and he has read as a sponsored reader for New Mexico State University’s annual hunger benefit, Casa de Peregrinos.

In 2004, his chapbook Heterotopia was published by Noemi Press (Las Cruces). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Xantippe, Conduit, Puerto del Sol, The Portland Review, The Laurel Review, and Grist: The Journal for Writers.

A Ph.D. candidate in creative writing at the University of Nebraska, John co-curates the no name reading series, and is working on his manuscript, That Center Still Holds.


(Or beginning with a line by Enrique Gonzales Martínez)

There are hours I imagine that I am a sleepless bird
an ambulance ululating at dawn
that I am flailing in the great American escape
in the second of three minor ambitions
of the uninterrpted mind
that I am a shadow descending a mountain
a marble remnant of daylight
that I am a subject not belonging to the world
but to the limits of the world
that I am the first of two curtain calls
critically praised & garnering applause
that I am a whirlwind of vicissitude
& incantatory anaphor
that I am humorless & devoid of wit
a garden a jungle a terrific constellation
of unjaundiced stars
that I am a soundless & blue winter moon
paler than lamplight under a blouse
that I am a coterie of rooftops in a midnight mist
a set of somber & nude chimneys
that I am moving through my own limitations of language
vowel-conscious & tasting every sound
that I am a broken line of sparrows
banging inside the atmosphere of a man's body
that I am a garden of sunflowers
emptying a red southwestern sky
that I am perpending the brave machinery of birds
speeding through the high trees
that I am a translucent pond
cradling, on its water, the sky's golden coin of fire
that I am a book of questions
a meadow in late autumn's last trapping of warmth
its drumbeats cloying & yellow explosion

--John Chávez

"The Soul of Things" originally appeared in Heterotopia, a title published by Noemi Press, a literary press run by Carmen Giménez Smith in Las Cruces, NM, and whose current poetry editor is Rosa Alcalá. It later appeared in Xantippe in 2007, edited by Kristen Hanlon. The poem is posted here at Letras Latinas Blog with the permission of the author.

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