How the John K. Walsh Residency Fellowship (formerly the Letras Latinas Residency Fellowship) is determined varies. There is no formal application process, but rather an organic process of discernment which may, at times, tap colleagues in the field for a recommendation. It must be someone who has been working at their art for some time, usually well into a “post MFA phase” (though a degree in creative writing is not a requirement) with some publications under his/her belt. It also must be someone who has not yet published a first full-length book, whether poetry or prose. But there is something more I look for, which isn’t necessarily easy to determine. And that is: someone who views their art-making as part of larger gesture that goes beyond wanting to build a self-interested “career.” Rather: someone who, on some level, views him/herself as invested in a community, whatever that community may be.
This past October, when I had the opportunity to hang out with a great co-hort of poets from Northern California at the third PINTURA:PALABRA workshop in Sacramento, it became clear who this year’s recipient would be be.
Recipients of the
John K. Walsh Residency Fellowship
(formerly the Letras Latinas Residency Fellowship)
Joseph Rios was born and raised in Fresno County. His chapbook, Shadowboxing: Poems and Impersonations is forthcoming from Achiote Press (Berkeley) with an introduction by Willie Perdomo. In 2013, his full length manuscript of poems was a finalist for a Willow Books Literature award. His poems have appeared in Codex, Huizache, Cobalt, Bozalta, Poets Responding to SB1070, and Hector Tobar's blog for Los Angeles Times Books. He studied literature at UC Berkeley and Fresno City College. He works as a handyman and mover. He lives in Oakland.
And so, Joseph will be spending the month of July at the Anderson Center in Red Wing, MN, working on his that first book. In his own words:
“I look at the book as a complete fight between the speaker in the poems and the poet writing them. Shadowbox: to fight one's self in the mirror or an opponent of one's imagination – this practice is at the heart of the work and operates literally and symbolically throughout. The poems develop and are placed according to the framework of one continuous bout between these two. I will spend the bulk of my time at the Anderson Center completing the [final] section.”
The late John K. Walsh was a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, and went on to have a distinguished career at UC Berkeley as a hispanista, and mentored scholars, writers and translators throughout his time on the Berkeley campus. In his memory, Letras Latinas has also initiated the John K. Walsh Mentorship Essays, a collaboration with ORIGINS magazine.
CLICK BELOW to read the first three:
“Etched in Glass: Remembering Jack Walsh”
by Francisco Aragón
by Fred Arroyo
“Where the Story Begins and Ends: Practically a Fairy Tale”
by Joy Castro
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