Our heartiest congratulations to Lauro Vazquez for receiving the prestigious Nicholas Sparks Prize, administered by the Creative Writing Program! The selection was made by professor Kwame Dawes and carries a $20,000 stipend to spend a third year at Notre Dame where Lauro will also continue his affiliation to the Institute.
Ghanaian-born Jamaican poet, Kwame Dawes is the award-winning author of sixteen books of poetry (most recently, Wheels, 2011) and numerous books of fiction, non-fiction, criticism and drama. He is the Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner, and a Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of Nebraska. Kwame Dawes also teaches in the Pacific MFA Writing program. Dawes’ book, Duppy Conqueror: New and Selected Poems will be published by Copper Canyon in 2013.
Of Lauro's work, Kwame Dawes has this to say:
"Sometimes a work declares its urgency by the force of its vision, its effortless artistry and by its sure purposefulness. This kind of thing is rare enough to warrant celebration when it happens. The poet is intelligent. This is obvious. Obvious, also, is the poet’s sophisticated understanding of history, authority over a range of small and large details of culture and life, and a clever enough essayist to make one worry that the idea of the poems may end up being better than the poems themselves. Well, the truth is that the poems are remarkable works of art, formally daring, judicious in the expunging of cliché, and surprising in the way that one imagines these poems may well have surprised the poet him/herself. I can hear Cesaire, Brathwaite, Walcott, Guillen, and Morejon marching through these poems. The sense of landscape, of historical irony and the fierce desire to assert a black self into the Mexican memory is compelling, urgent and beautiful. This is good work."
José Limón and Tim Matovina