Monday, January 18, 2016

Letras Latinas @ the National Portrait Gallery

UPDATE: this event has been re-scheduled to take place on the evening of March 8.

Notre Dame partners with the National Portrait Gallery and the Library of Congress for an event with the Poet Laureate

Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies (ILS)—in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery and the Library of Congress’ Hispanic Division and Poetry & Literature Center—is pleased to present “Poets Unite!,” a program featuring U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, and poets Diana Garcia and Arlene Biala. Additional sponsors include the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the Smithsonian Latino Center.

The poets will read new original work that responds to the National Portrait Gallery’s current exhibit, “One Life: Dolores Huerta,” as a way to highlight Huerta, a leader in the United Farm Workers movement and lifelong champion of workers’ rights. The event will take place in Washington, D.C. at the National Portrait Gallery’s Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium on the evening of March 8, exact time to be determined.

Juan Felipe Herrera, who assumed his laureateship last September, is the author of more than twenty books, including Half of the World in Light (University of Arizona Press), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Diana Garcia is the author of the award-winning book, When Living Was A Labor Camp (University of Arizona Press), as well as co-editor of Fire and Ink: An Anthology of Social Action Writing (University of Arizona Press). Arlene Biala is the author of two books: continental drift (West End Press) and her beckoning hands (Word Tech Editions), which recently won an American Book Award.

“When I learned about the exhibit last summer and thought about the circumstances of our Poet Laureate’s early years, an event of these characteristics seemed wholly appropriate,” said Francisco Aragón, director of Letras Latinas.

Well before the January event, Herrera, Garcia and Biala each spent time with the exhibit as preparation for producing this new work. They will also hold a post-reading conversation on the issues and themes brought up in the exhibit, followed by a Q & A session with the public.

“This event will be a necessary moment in the ongoing and evolving discussion of and for non- violence. Diana and Arlene have key vision, experience and heart, and I’m thrilled I’ll be sharing the stage with them, said Juan Felipe Herrera, whose Poet Laureate project, La Casa de Colores, resides on the Library of Congress’ website:
Letras Latinas 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.

Francisco Aragón

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