Thursday, June 2, 2016

PINTURA:PALABRA DC Residencies: installment 2

Gina Franco

Letras Latinas, the literary initiative of the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, is pleased to welcome Gina Franco—the second recipient of the PINTURA:PALABRA DC residencies. These one-week stints, for three Latina writers, are taking place in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Franco will be in residence June 6 - 13, next week.

She is the author of The Keepsake Storm, a collection of poems “that explore the surrealism of memory and narrative, especially in light of place, faith, and identity.” She has published widely in many journals, including Black Warrior Review, Crazyhorse, Fence, POETRY, Prairie Schooner, and Zone 3, among many other magazines. Her writing has also been included in, A Best of Fence: the First Nine Years, Camino del Sol: Fifteen Years of Latina and Latino Writing, and The Other Latin@: Writing Against a Singular Identity, among other anthologies.

“The pilot experiment for these residencies was Blas Falconer’s 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 and Laurie Ann Guerrero—the inaugural recipient of this residency last year—Gina will be staying in the same Capitol Hill apartment for a full week--thanks to one of our benefactors (see below). The idea is to create opportunities for new ekphrastic writing.”

In the case of Franco’s intended project, she offers this statement:

“As I began preliminary research for my PINTURA:PALABRA DC residency, I discovered James Hampton’s Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly. Constructed entirely from found objects, and built secretly in a storage space over the course of fourteen years, The Throne represents the kind of visionary, devotional art that interests me most. Hampton collected the discarded, the derelict, the ruined—the ordinary detritus of everyday life—and reconfigured it into a highly symbolic, epiphanic altar, a place of awaiting, at once welcoming and awestruck, for the end of the world. Hampton was poor, African American, Southern, Evangelical, and never formally trained as an artist. He worked most of his life as a janitor, though it seems he aspired to become a minister after retirement. Most of what has been written about him and his master work focuses on these aspects of his life. I hope to write poems in response to The Throne that discover more of the theological and existential realities at work in Hampton's complex eschatological vision of the profane made sacred.” 

The Throne is part of the permanent collection at the Smithsonian American Art Museum:

For this second installment of the PINTURA:PALABRA DC Residencies, Letras Latinas is partnering with The Los Angeles Review for eventual publication of work that emerges from Franco’s time in Washington, D.C.

“I’m thrilled at the prospect of working with Letras Latinas and Gina Franco, whose poetry I’ve admired for years. This also feels like a good fit because I participated in a similar ekphrastic residency with Letras Latinas,” said Blas Falconer, who took over as the new poetry editor for The Los Angeles Review in the last year.

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 and special commissions, in tandem with the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s traveling exhibit, “Our America: the Latino Presence in American Art” and partnering literary journals. Thus far, portfolios of art-inspired work have appeared in Poet Lore, Notre Dame Review, and POETRY. Forthcoming portfolios are in the pike at Western Humanities Review, The Los Angeles Review, and The Packinghouse Review.

Gina Franco will also be doing an audio recording for the Library of Congress’ "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, Brenda Cárdenas, Eduardo C. Corral, Diana García, Carmen Giménez Smith, Rigoberto González, Tim Z. Hernández, Juan Felipe Herrera, Valerie Martínez, Maria Meléndez Kelson,

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.

Letras Latinas
would like to thank

Molly Singer
Martha Aragon Velez

whose generosity makes
DC Residencies

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