Professor Rigoberto González, director of the Masters in Creative Writing program at Rutgers University-Newark, has been selected by Library of America (LOA) to be the Senior Humanities Advisor for Latino Poetry, a national public humanities initiative scheduled for 2024-25.
The project, funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, is realized by LOAa non-profit publisher and cultural institution, in partnership with the National Association of Latin Arts and Cultures, arts organizations, museums and libraries nationwide. It will include signing events in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, San Antonio/Houston, New York and San Juan, Puerto Rico, as well as scholarly-led public conversations at 75 public libraries across the country, online resources and archive media.
The centerpiece of the LOA initiative, around which many events will revolve, is a groundbreaking literary investigation titled, Latin Poetry: A New Anthology, edited by González, the first anthology to embrace the entire tradition of Latino poetry in all its many strands and from its beginnings in the sixteenth century to the present day. Published in the Library of America’s authoritative series, it will be a permanent legacy of the project. In his role as Senior Humanities Advisor, González will also help organize and host events across the country, working with LOA’s literary partners to promote the book.
“I feel very honored to be in charge of this project, which I consider an important milestone in my career as a writer and critic,” said González.
González is the author of 17 books of poetry and prose, including novels, memoirs, novels for young adults and bilingual children’s books, and has accumulated a long list of prestigious honors throughout his career, such as as the Guggenheim, NEA and USA Rolón scholarships. He was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, the American Book Award, the Poetry Center Book Award, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society. of America, among others. In addition to teaching and writing, González is a general critic for the Los Angeles Time and serves on the Board of Directors of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.
I feel very honored to be in charge of this project, which I consider an important step in my career as a writer and critic.
This made González an ideal candidate for the role of LOA Latino Poetry. He was chosen in particular because of his expertise as a literary critic of Latino literature, in particular of contemporary poetry.
González says LOA decided to focus on a Latin poetry initiative after the success of African-American Poetry: 250 Years of Poetry and Song, which the group released in 2020. Publisher LOA and President Max Rudin wanted another project that dealt with America’s complex ethnic heritage, and the next logical step was to consider Latinos. According to the US census, there are approximately 62.1 million Latinos living in this country, or 18.9% of the total population.
Like the African American Poetry Anthology, the Latin American Poetry Anthology must consider history, heritage, culture, and identity, focusing on poetry written in the United States. States dating from the colonial period. Because “Latino” is a 20e end of the century, says González, most of the anthology is devoted to poets born in the 20e century.
“Searching for poems dating from the 1500s to the 1800s has been difficult, as so much has been lost, and it is mostly prose that survives in the archives. But there is enough to get an idea of the emergency room and concerns written during those earlier periods,” González explains. “From the 20e century to today, there is an explosion of work – an embarrassment of wealth – and that too was a challenge because I had to be quite selective. Although there were many entries representing contemporary Latin poetry, not everyone could be included.
González will curate the book once all the selections are complete and write a comprehensive introduction to the anthology. After that, he will focus on organizing events across the country to provide a platform for the book.
“We have partnered with a number of literary and arts organizations, including the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC), the National Book Foundation, the Academy of American Poets, and the Poetry Society of America, to name a few,” says González. “These associations have helped us to receive these generous funds from the NEH, and the confidence that these organizations have placed in the Latin poetry project only affirms that we are developing something urgent and topical, and certainly long overdue. long time. I hope the anthology will find its audience in the general reading public”.