Friday, November 15, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: New Funding Opportunity for Latino/a Poets...


The University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies (ILS), in collaboration with Notre Dame’s Creative Writing Program, is pleased to announce the creation of a two-year graduate assistantship for an incoming M.F.A. candidate in poetry beginning in the fall of 2014.

The recipient of the assistantship will be selected from the pool of students admitted to the Creative Writing Program by the M.F.A. program, in consultation with the Institute for Latino Studies. The selected candidate, in addition to the tuition waiver all admitted students receive, will also receive a $12,500 stipend for each of his/her two years in the program. The selected poet will work with the ILS’ literary initiative, Letras Latinas.

M.F.A. alum Lauro Vazquez (‘13), the current third-year Creative Writing Sparks Fellow, served as a model for the creation of the assistantship. “The experience we had with Lauro was such a positive one that we wanted to explore a way of repeating it, but in a more formal manner” said Francisco Aragón, ILS faculty member who oversaw Vazquez’s work with Letras Latinas.

Among the projects Vazquez carried out while pursuing his graduate degree was organizing the inaugural young poets gathering, which brought to Notre Dame Latino/a writers from other graduate programs around the U.S. They convened last April, along with Latino/a M.F.A. candidates at Notre Dame, for a weekend of fellowship and networking, as well as an informal poetics seminar offered by award-winning poet and Notre Dame professor Orlando Menes. "Organizing the poetry retreat felt like a supplementary thesis in a way—like the culmination of the work I'd been doing at the Institute, work that involved not only creating content at Letras Latinas Blog, but also creating spaces to foster community. The retreat was among the most meaningful things I did as a graduate student, and I got a definite sense that it was meaningful for the others too," said Vazquez.

The recipient of the new assistantship will be tasked with developing this project further, now named the Letras Latinas Writers Initiative, as a coordinator. But no less important is providing the incoming M.F.A. candidate with opportunities for growth, as a writer. “Lauro has made tremendous strides as a poet who grounds his cross-cultural poetics in a sophisticated fusion of myth and history,” said Orlando Menes, who directed Vazquez’s M.F.A. thesis. “I look forward to mentoring the next generation of Latino poets who see culture as fertile soil for their poetics,” Menes added, looking ahead to working with the selected candidate.

The creation of this stipend is consistent with the ILS’ mission of providing funding opportunities to graduate students in Latino Studies. According to ILS Director, José Limón:  “Together with our intense faculty recruitment, this ILS graduate funding opportunity in creative writing, under the direction of our esteemed colleague, Orlando Menes, is the first major step toward and model for the creation of an ILS-focused program of graduate study within the cognate departments of the College of Arts and Letters. In the future, we want any student contemplating graduate work in Latino Studies to put Notre Dame at the very top of his or her list of programs.”

Since its creation in 1999 the Institute for Latino Studies has played a vital role in fostering understanding of the US Latino experience. Building upon the outstanding intellectual legacy of Julian Samora, a pioneering Latino scholar and professor, the Institute supports interdisciplinary initiatives in Latino Studies as a key component of the University’s academic mission.

The Creative Writing Program is a two-year course of study, culminating in a Master of Fine Arts in English. It is a literary immersion program, inviting students to engage in the writing life of the university by taking courses in literature, the writing of poetry and/or fiction, and a wide range of electives suited to the particular interest of the student. The writing life of the program also includes participating in a range of editorial and/or teaching opportunities, as well as the new Latino Studies assistantship.

For further information contact:
Orlando Menes, 
Director of Creative Writing
Fellow of the Institute for Latino Studies

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