Laurie Ann Guerrero
Letras Latinas, the literary initiative of the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, is pleased to soon be welcoming to Washington, D.C. Laurie Ann Guerrero—the inaugural recipient of the PINTURA:PALABRA DC residencies. These one-week stints, for three Latina writers, will take place in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
Guerrero, the current Poet Laureate of San Antonio and former winner of the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize, will be in-residence from April 28th to May 5th, when she will visit museums and galleries to write about, and respond to, art. Thanks to two individual benefactors (scroll down to the end), she will be provided with housing and a stipend. Guerrero is the author of: A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying (University of Notre Dame Press, 2013) and the soon to be released, A Crown for Gumecindo (Aztlan Libre Press, 2015), which features paintings by Maceo Montoya.
“The pilot experiment for these residencies was Blas Falconer’s four-day, self-directed ekphrastic retreat in January of 2014 when he visited the Our America exhibit at the Smithsonian” said Francisco Aragón, director of Letras Latinas. “As was the case with Blas, Laurie Ann will be staying in the same Capitol Hill apartment, but for a full a week and with the option to visit any museum or gallery she wants. The idea is to create opportunities for new ekphrastic writing, regardless of the art that inspires it. Ultimately, we hope to identify a journal that will collaborate with Letras Latinas and Laurie Ann in order to eventually publish the work that results from her week in Washington.”
Guerrero agreed to answer a couple of questions, in anticipation of her visit:
What will it mean for you to spend a week in DC with the assignment to visit museums and fill your notebook?
“I can’t help but see the privilege and so the responsibility of an opportunity like this. To be invited to new places and new experiences in order to create, to speak, to share my ideas is centering, empowering in a way that requires my utmost dedication—to my work, to my truest self, and to the experience itself— as a woman, a mother, a Chicana from a small parcel of land in Texas.”
Can you give us a glimpse of how you intend to spend your time? Are there particular exhibits currently showing in DC that you want to visit?
“I have decided I must be most deliberate and efficient with my time in DC, and because it is the 7 days before the official book release of my new book, A Crown for Gumecindo (and another major event I can’t quite speak of yet that happens the day after the book release), I plan to relish in the solitude, to be mindful of the ancestors and their work as I—for the first time—walk about our nation’s capital. I definitely want to visit Unraveling Identity: Our Textiles, Our Stories exhibit at George Washington University Museum, National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Girl for Sale exhibit at the American Poetry Museum, National Museum of the American Indian, National Portrait Gallery, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. As a writer, I know that my own truths are made tangible by the truths of others. I plan to be fully present, to document what happens in the space between these histories and my own.”
Laurie Ann Guerrero will also be doing an audio recording for the Library of Congress’ new “Spotlight on U.S. Hispanic Writers,” a collaboration with Letras Latinas which continues the tradition of the LOC’s Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape. Writers recorded in the Spotlight series thus far have been: Fred Arroyo, Richard Blanco, Eduardo C. Corral, Brenda Cárdenas, Carmen Giménez Smith, Rigoberto González, Valerie Martínez, and Maria Melendez Kelson.
And finally, Guerrero will be the guest of honor at a literary salon moderated by poet Dan Vera and hosted in the home of poet and editor of Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Kim Roberts.
The PINTURA:PALABRA DC Residencies are part of the larger, collaborative, multi-year initiative by the same name, which is fomenting the creation of art-inspired writing through workshops held in tandem with the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s traveling exhibit, “Our America: the Latino Presence in American Art” and the partnering journals that are publishing each workshop’s portfolio, as well as a partnership with POETRY Magazine, who will be publishing a special portfolio of “Our America”-inspired work in early 2016, with accompanying reproductions of the art.
Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at the Institute for Latino Studies, strives to enhance the visibility, appreciation, and study of Latino literature both on and off the campus of the University of Notre Dame, with an emphasis on programs that support newer voices, and foster a sense of community among writers.
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