Teaching Poetry in Spanish

To celebrate the launch of a new MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish, Hofstra University is presenting a daylong writing and literature symposium on Thursday, November 15, featuring celebrated authors from the US, Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Spain, and Venezuela. Poets and writers will read excerpts of their works in bilingual format and participate in panels about Spanish literature and translation. Among the participating writers are: Daniel Alarcón, Giannina Braschi, Heather Cleary, Lina Meruane, Fernando Operé, Cristina Rivera Garza, and Fernando Valverde.

The symposium will be held 9:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. at the Lowenfeld Conference and Exhibition Hall, 10th floor, Axinn Library, South Campus. Registration is free and open to the public. Formore information call the Hofstra Cultural Center at (516) 463-5669.

Hofstra’s MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish is the first of its kind on Long Island and the second in the New York metropolitan area. It reflects an emerging trend reported by The New York Times among creative writing programs across the country to offer Spanish-based curriculums that reflect the nation’s changing demographics.

The program’s faculty are the symposium organizers: Professors Álvaro Enrigue, Justin Colón-Rabinowitz, Valeria Luiselli, and Miguel-Ángel Zapata.

More about the symposium guests:


Daniel Alarcón is the host of Radio Ambulante, an award-winning Spanish-language podcast distributed by NPR.  Born in Lima, Peru, Alarcón was raised in the United States, and studied Creative Writing at the Iowa Writers Workshop.  He began writing for magazines like Harper’sThe New York Times Magazine, and The New Yorker in 2006, and produced his first radio documentary for the BBC in 2008 on Andean migration to Lima. Alarcón teaches radio and writing at the Columbia University School of Journalism. HIs books include War by Candlelight, a finalist for the 2005 PEN-Hemingway Award, Lost City Radio, named a 2007 Best Novel of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle and The Washington Post. His most recent novel, At Night We Walk in Circles, was a finalist for the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award. His graphic novel, City of Clowns, was published in 2015. He is a recipient of a Lannan Literary Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Fulbright Fellowship.


Radical thinker Giannina Braschi is a cutting-edge poet and novelist whose works have been rendered by various artists into other genres such as videos, a theater play, paintings, a photography book, a comic book, and sculptures. Braschi  is the author of the poetry epic Empire of Dreamsthe Spanglish novel Yo-Yo Boing! and the play United States of Banana.  Her work deals with capitalism, censorship, democracy, freedom, and revolution.  She holds a PhD in the Spanish Golden Age and has taught at Rutgers, Colgate, and City University of New York. She has written on Cervantes, Garcilaso, Lorca, Machado, Vallejo, and Bécquer. She holds a PhD in the Spanish Golden Age and has taught at Rutgers, Colgate, and City University of New York. She has written on Cervantes, Garcilaso, Lorca, Machado, Vallejo, and Bécquer. 

Heather Cleary is a translator, writer, and one of the founding editors of the digital, bilingual Buenos Aires Review. Her translations have appeared in Two LinesA Public Space, and Words Without Borders. Her book-length translations include Sergio Chejfec’s The Planets (finalist, Best Translated Book Award 2013) and The Dark (nominee, ALTA’s National Translation Award 2014) and Poems to Read on a Streetcar, a selection of Girondo’s poetry published by New Directions (recipient, PEN and Programa SUR translation grants).


Lina Meruane published a collection of short stories, Las Infantas (Chile 1998, Argentina 2010), as well as three novels: Póstuma (2000), Cercada (2000), and Fruta Podrida (2007). The latter won the Best Unpublished Novel Prize awarded by Chile’s National Council of the Culture and the Arts in 2006. Meruane received the prestigious Mexican Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize in 2012 for Seeing Red.

Fernando Operé has directed more than 30 theatrical productions and published 13 books of poetry; the last one was Around the World in 80 Poems (2013). He is also the author of several books of literary criticism and history, such as Indian Captivity in Spanish America. Frontier Narratives (2008); España y los españoles de hoy (2007) Historias de la frontera. El cautiverio en la América hispánica (2001); Cautivos (1997); and Civilización y barbarie en la literatura argentina del siglo XIX (1987), as well as numerous articles.

Cristina Rivera-Garza is the recipient of the Roger Caillois Award for Latin American Literature (Paris, 2013) and the Anna Seghers Award (Berlin, 2005). She is the only author to twice win the International Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize: in 2001 for her novel Nadie me verá llorar and again in 2009 for her novel La muerte me da.

Fernando Valverde has received some of the most significant awards for poetry in Spanish, among them the Federico García Lorca, the Emilio Alarcos del Principado de Asturias and the Antonio Machado Awards. His last book, The Insistence of Harm, has been the most-sold book of poetry in Spain for months and has received the Book of the Year award from the Latino American Writers Institute of the City University of New York.



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