Sunday, June 10, 2007

Letras Latinas welcomes readers of La Bloga...

...and hope you'll come by once or twice a week: when I mentioned to Dan a few weeks ago that I was starting this blog, he graciously invited me to write a short piece for La Bloga introducing it. Said piece is supposed to post on Monday, June 11. My hope is that regular readers of La Bloga will become regulars here, as well.

Brief Q and A on Letras Latinas and this weblog

Why is this blog called Latino Poetry Review?
It's my attempt at advanced publicity: in early 2008, Letras Latinas is launching an online journal by the same name, Latino Poetry Review (LPR), whose mission is fairly straightforward: it will publish reviews, interviews, and essays on Latino Poetry. Once LPR is launched, it's likely the name of this blog will be called something else, probably "Letras Latinas."

And what is "Letras Latinas"?
Letras Latinas' mission statement is on upper righthand side of this blog. But in a nutshell, it's the name given to the consortium of initiatives that I carry out and oversee at the Institute for Latino Studies (ILS) at the University of Notre Dame---projects whose aim, primarily, is to enhance the visibility and apprciation of Latino literature, though our niche or strength, at this time, seems to be newer voices in Latino literature, particularly poetry. I'd invite people to have a peek at our current projects, listed on the righthand side below our mission statement.

You keep saying "our." Does Letras Latinas have a staff?
I wish. No, seriously: although I'm pretty much it, where this "unit" of the ILS is concerned, Letras Latinas would not exist if it weren't for its various alliances. The idea of collaboration and the forming of partnerships around specific projects is very much part of its mission. And if I say "our" it's because the Institute for Latino Studies is like a family. We all take pride in the work that is carried out in our various units. Whenever I walk off the campus of the University of Notre Dame and board a plane or a train, I am not only an ambassador of Notre Dame, but also of the Institute for Latino Studies. And so I am very careful to make sure that "Institute for Latino Studies" forms part of anything I attach my name to, where my work at Notre Dame is concerned.

Who are some of your partners?
Partners can be other organizations, or individuals. And they can be formal or informal. For Poetas y Pintores, our formal partners were the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Center for Women's InterCultural Leadership (CWIL) at Saint Mary's College.

The Guild Complex in Chicago has been one of Letras Latinas' most important partners in the last couple of years. They approached us about collaborating on Palabra Pura. And my association with the Guild has opened up other contacts, which are beginning to bear collaborative fruit. Ellen Wadey, the Executive Director at the Guild, is the spearhead behind what I'll call a tri-partnership that's in the works with the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize. More on that when it's more official.

Momotombo Press: In addition to associate editors Maria Meléndez and Richard Yanez, who were crucial to bringing out From the Tongues of Brick and Stone by Brenda Cárdenas and Malinche's Daughter by Michelle Otero, respectively, Momotombo Press would be hard pressed to do what it does without the collaboration of its designer in New York City, Charles Valle. The working relationship with Charles started in 2001 when we co-founded Dánta: A Poetry Journal as fellow MFAers here at Notre Dame. Whenever I get to NYC, Charles is someone I always see and break bread with.

Hispanic Research Center: Letras Latinas' work with Gary Keller and his staff at HRC at Arizona State is still in its developing stages. They asked me to help them, for example, with their Latino Poetry Community . Org website. It's up, but I hope to do more with it in the coming year, and will seeking cooperation from Latino/a poets. The new partnership I'm especially excited about, where HRC is concerned, is CANTO COSAS---a new book series I'll be editing for Bilingual Press and which is set to launch in 2008 and will feature new poetry books by Latino/a poets.

What role do you see this weblog playing in all of these projects?
That's a very good question! I was at a "management meeting" at my job a while back, and the various unit directors were being asked to think more intentionally about ways of "getting the word out" about the work that's being done at the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame. I thought about the area I work in---Latino literature---and thought about the blogosphere. Truth be told, this weblog is still very much taking baby steps. I need to keep reminding myself that I want it to about Letras Latinas and the work it carries out, and not about me. Having said that, if I find myself doing something that impacts Letras Latinas' mission, then I'll be inclined to write about it here, as I did while down in New Mexico for the Poetas y Pintores exhibit.

It goes without saying that I would welcome any feedback or ideas from readers out there on how this blog can help advance the mission of Letras Latinas, but in ways that would make for interesting reading. In this sense, its mission is very much, I think, related to the fine work being done at La Bloga.

And in case you're a regular reader of La Bloga and are visiting here for the first time: I recently announced that the poet, Martín Espada, will be the final judge of the forthcoming third edition of the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize. And while I'm at it, The Outer Bands (University of Notre Dame Press, 2007) by Gabriel Gomez---winner of the second edition of the Montoya Prize---will be released in August.


Daniel A. Olivas said...

Glad to be part of your foray into the land of Web! We have added Latino Poetry Review to our list of links on La Bloga. Onward!

Lisa Alvarado said...

Francisco...Seeing the site and reading about the plans for the future were a welcome addition to my Monday morning. Andale! It's clear you've shouldered some necessary heavy lifting....

Looking forward to talking with you more when I see you at my reading at Tianguis here in Chicago, later this month.

Gina Ruiz said...


Welcome to the blogworld! I'll add your link to the blogroll at AmoxCalli. We at La Bloga are glad to have to join our list of links. Mexica Tiahui!


Manuel Ramos said...

Francisco: I wish you all the best with your blog adventure. The more the merrier, especially when it comes to la cultura.

msedano said...

francisco, welcome to the 21st century and the virtual power of the press. i'm looking forward to finding those ordinarily hard-to-find individual poetic gems, as well as intriguing info about letras latinas and poetics.


Manuel Paul Lopez said...

Glad to hear the news re: Martin Espada and the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize, Francisco. Great, exciting post all around!