The following is a guest post by Catalina Gómez, program coordinator in the Library of Congress Hispanic Division.
As the program coordinator of the Library of Congress Hispanic Division, it’s my pleasure to announce the launch of an exciting online feature: “Spotlight on U.S. Hispanic Writers,” presenting interviews with contemporary American poets and prose writers of Hispanic descent. This feature includes conversations and readings by five poets and prose writers, such as the 2013 inaugural Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco, Eduardo C. Corral (the first Hispanic writer to receive the Yale Younger Poets Prize), and American Book Award-winner Carmen Giménez Smith
This initiative has made possible through the collaboration of our Library’s Hispanic Division and Poetry and Literature Center with Letras Latinas, the literary initiative of the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Poet, essayist, and editor Francisco Aragón, director of Letras Latinas, says the organization is “both thrilled and proud of our on-going collaboration with the Library of Congress to help illuminate voices that, for too long, have been overlooked by the literary mainstream. My hope is that we reach a moment in the national literary conversation when we, as a culture, cannot imagine American literature without the contributions of Latino and Latina writers.”
The “Spotlight on U.S. Hispanic Writers” recordings belong to the American literary cannon (the poets and prose writers in this series write predominantly in English), but are part of the Hispanic Division’s Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape (AHLOT). The AHLOT is an ongoing collection of recorded interviews and readings of contemporary poets and prose writers from the Iberian Peninsula, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States currently curated by my boss Georgette Dorn, chief of the Hispanic Division. In helping develop and promote “Spotlight on U.S. Hispanic Writers,” the Poetry and Literature Center also highlights the tradition of the archive, which includes recordings with seminal figures such as Jorge Luis Borges, Octavio Paz, and the recently deceased Gabriel García Márquez.
As a U.S. Hispanic myself, I have been happy to be part of this project. It has been incredibly humbling to meet and interview some of the most important literary voices of our growing community, and to facilitate the creation of a platform where these voices can be given the space they deserve. If this project has taught me anything, it is that U.S. Hispanic literature is truly breaking new ground. Its multiplicity of voices and perspectives make it an incredibly rich, transcultural, and cross-cultural conversation that is haunting, deeply captivating, and definitely worth being in the spotlight.