Letras Boricuas

2021 Fellows

Versión en español aquí

Francisco Font Acevedo

Francisco Font Acevedo was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Puerto Rican parents, on September 15, 1970. He grew up in Rincón, Puerto Rico, the country where he lived until July 2018. Since then, he has lived in exile in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he assumes the border identity of being a Puerto Rican islander who neither assimilates nor wishes to assimilate to the equivocal category of Latino. On that side of the Atlantic, he works as an interpreter and writes fiction. His most recent publications are Santurce, un libro mural (in collaboration with the artist Rafael Trelles, Fundación Puertorriqueña de las Humanidades, Puerto Rico, 2020) and La troupe Samsonite (Folium, Puerto Rico, 2016). At present, he aspires to complete his next book. His writing is inspired by “what results from personal and other people’s memory, dreams, the hybridity of cultural identities, the occupation and eviction of humanized spaces, nomadism and exile, human dignity and misery, and what I do not know.” About Letras Boricuas, Francisco shares that “receiving this fellowship means for me an opportunity to have a greater financial stability to complete my next book.”

 

Mrinali Álvarez Astacio

Mrinali Álvarez Astacio was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on January 12, 1973. She is a visual artist, illustrator, and author. She studied Fine Arts at Columbus College of Art and Design in the USA and has a master’s degree in Children’s Book Illustration from Cambridge School of Art in the UK. She has published books with the publishing house of the University of Puerto Rico as an author and illustrator, for some of which she received the Latino Book Awards and the Publisher’s West Award. She has exhibited her illustration works in Galleria Piazza San Marco; Venice, Italy; and at Coningsby Gallery and Candid Gallery in London. In 2017, she received the mention of Highly Commended Artwork in the Macmillan Prize for Children’s Book Illustration competition. In 2016, she was one of three winners at the Beginning, Middle, and End competition of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators-British Isles, in London, UK. Her illustrated artist books were featured at the Norwich Artist Book Fair and Gallery Above in Linton. Her most recent publication is Piecitos de bebé (Baby feet, Editorial Destellos, Puerto Rico, 2021). About being named a Letras Boricuas Fellow, Mrinali points out that “receiving this fellowship means for me a recognition of my work as an author-illustrator. It boosts my motivation, and it is an aid that will significantly support my plans, especially to finish my doctorate in children’s book illustration at Cambridge School of Art in the UK.

 

Cezanne Cardona

Cezanne Cardona was born in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, on January 28, 1982. He is a writer, teacher, and columnist. In 2018, he received the Premio Nuevas Voces and in 2019 the Premio Nacional del Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña for his book of short stories Levittown mon amor (Ediciones Callejón, 2018). Some of his short stories have been published in various anthologies and adapted to the theater. Currently, he is an opinion columnist for the newspaper El Nuevo Día and teaches Comparative Literature courses at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. Cezanne draws inspiration from images and phrases. He dreams of describing a future goal or plan. He says that being named a Letras Boricuas Fellow means “a great honor” to him.

 

Martín Espada

Martín Espada is a poet, editor, essayist, and translator. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, where he was raised, and now lives in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. A former tenant lawyer, Espada is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He is the author of more than twenty books, including Floaters (W.W. Norton, 2021); a finalist for the National Book Award, Vivas to Those Who Have Failed (2016); The Trouble Ball (2011)l and Alabanza (2003). His many honors include the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, an Academy of American Poets Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He notes one particular influence of his cultural and artistic identity: his father, Francisco Luis (Frank) Espada, a photographer, community organizer, and leader of the Puerto Rican community in New York during the 1960s.About being named a Letras Boricus Fellow, Espada says, “As a poet of the Puerto Rican diaspora, this fellowship means a great deal to me personally and poetically, more than words can say. This fellowship represents the embrace of my Boricua community—so often the beating heart of my poems. In a way, this fellowship brings me full circle: the chance to scatter my father’s ashes in his hometown of Utuado.”

Francisco Félix

Francisco Félix was born on September 18, 1990, in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico. He grew up in Carolina and Trujillo Alto. He is a writer. He studied Sociology and Hispanic Studies at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. He published the books of poems Esta Isla (Alayubia, 2019) and Sobre los domingos (La Impresora, 2019). He participated in the La Práctica program of Beta Local in 2019. El Nuevo Día has reviewed his texts, and some of his poems have been translated into English and Portuguese. Other poems have been published in the Low-Fi Ardentía, Demoliendo Hoteles, and Fracas magazines. In his blog, Rumiares Repetidos, he comments on literature. Currently, he lives in western Puerto Rico. Francisco Félix dreams of “devising ways for the exercise of writing and reading to migrate from the few privileged spaces to the community in general. We must recognize the importance of writing in life. Education is the pillar to reform and rebuild a society that has suffered from austerity policies in recent years by government institutions. It’s up to us to work with projects that satisfy the needs of our fellow human beings.” About being named a Letras Boricuas Fellow, Francisco shares that “I am very honored to be part of this award-winning group of Puerto Rican writers. There are immensely talented people in Puerto Rico with a commitment to books and literature. In such turbulent times, being a writer is a challenge to the crisis. I would not have received this opportunity without the support of that community so supportive, committed, and willing.”

Amina Lolita Gautier

Dr. Amina Lolita Gautier is a fiction writer and a professor. She was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1977 and now lives in Chicago and Miami. She is the author of The Loss of All Lost Things (Elixir Press, USA, 2016) and two short story collections: At-Risk and Now We Will Be Happy. Her stories have been widely published, including in Agni, Boston Review, Callaloo, Cincinnati Review, Glimmer Train, Greensboro Review, Gulf Coast, Joyland, Kenyon Review, Latino Book Review, Los Angeles Review, Mississippi Review, New Flash Fiction Review, Quarterly West, Southern Review, and Triquarterly, among other places. She’s the recipient of the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s 21st Century Award, the Eric Hoffer Legacy Fiction Award, the Phillis Wheatley Book Award in Fiction, and two International Latino Book Awards. She also received the PEN/MALAMUD Award for Excellence in the Short Story in 2018. Gautier is inspired to write by “The opportunity to show and tell the truth of one’s actions, which is often a more honest form of truth than mere facts.” About being named a Letras Boricuas Fellow, Gautier said, “Winning this fellowship means that there are numerous ways to be Boricua and that all the ways are valid yet different pathways to a beautifully complex identity. For me, this fellowship welcomes me home.”

Sergio Gutiérrez

Sergio Gutiérrez was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico, on September 14, 1986. This novelist and short-story writer currently lives in Oberlin, Ohio. In 2017, the Hay Festival selected him as part of Bogotá39, a list of 39 promising writers from the continent under 39. Two years earlier, in 2015, the Festival de la Palabra de Puerto Rico recognized him with the Premio Nuevas Voces, given to young Puerto Rican authors. His second novel, Dicen que los dormidos, won the National Novel Prize awarded by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture in 2012. His most recent publication is Los dias hábiles (Destino, México, 2020). Sergio is inspired to write by “the strange matter of our day-to-day life, or by reading (history or literature) as a way to energize the present.” About being named a Letras Boricuas Fellow, he said, “it means the opportunity to create a space within my daily responsibilities from which I will be able to finish a long novel that I have been working on in recent years.”

 

Amanda Hernández

Amanda Hernández was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on December 22, 1990. She is a poet, editor, and co-director of La Impresora. She studied Literature and Cultural Management at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. Amanda has independently published the following projects: Entre tanto amarillo (2016), El momento de las cosas (2017), Estrategias atómicas (2018). In 2019, she edited Memoriza: poemas para aprenderse de memoria, a game of “memory” that doubles as an anthology of contemporary Puerto Rican poetry. Her most recent work, La distancia es un lugar, was published by La Impresora in 2020. Amanda is inspired by “what I know, what I’ve lived, those experiences that are difficult to put into words, that attempt of understanding, what affects us, what has happened. It inspires me to know that shared words can create a sense of community, that words can also help define a country, an island.” About what it means to be a Letras Boricuas fellow, Amanda says, “To receive this fellowship means to me the opportunity to continue honoring my profession as a poet and editor. It represents the opportunity to continue dedicating my efforts to my poetic and editorial practice in the context of an island that benefits so much from the sensibilities poetry has to offer.”

Mónica Alexandra Jiménez

Mónica Alexandra Jiménez is a poet, historian, and  Assistant Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and raised in Houston, she currently lives in Austin, Texas. Her poems and essays have been published in Aftershocks of Disaster: Puerto Rico Before and After the Storm (2019), Society and Space Magazine (2020), sx salon (2020), and WSQ (2019). Her chapbook, Epigenetics, or the Afterlives of Smoke, was longlisted for the Frontier Poetry Chapbook Contest. She is the recipient of a Career Enhancement Fellowship from the Institute for Citizens and Scholars (formerly the Woodrow Wilson Foundation), as well as fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Puerto Rican Studies Association, the Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard Law School, and the Summer Institute for Tenure and Professional Advancement at Duke University. Her writing “explores the intersections and legacies of colonialism and violence; familial links and migration (el ‘vaivén’); and the overwhelming weight of debt, both spiritual and metaphysical, as well as, financial.” About being named a Letras Boricuas Fellow, Jiménez says, “As a writer and a scholar, I do the work that I do because I feel called to it, but often with doubts as to its necessity, relevance, or importance. The Letras Boricuas fellowship is confirmation that there is value in the work and in the ideas. It helps me believe that my words can matter and it helps push me to keep thinking and writing.”

Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa

Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa is a novelist. She was born in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, raised in New York City, and now lives in the Bronx, New York. Her first novel, Daughters of the Stone (Thomas Dunne Books, 2009), was shortlisted as a 2010 Finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize. Since its publication, the novel has been listed as required reading in more than 20 colleges and universities. The English and Spanish language editions of her second novel, A Woman of Endurance (Spanish title, Indómita) will be released in March 2022. Her writing is inspired by “the unrecognized stories of the past; filling in the blanks left by official historical documents; giving voice to the story of the ordinary people, especially the black people of Puerto Rico.” About being named a Letras Boricuas Fellow, Figuera says, “First of all, I am honored to receive critical recognition from a Puerto Rican panel of judges. It means I succeeded in representing my culture well. Secondly, it will allow me to do more extensive research on the island, visiting every plantation, every source of information, every scholar who can add to my investigations of the past.”

Carmen R. Marín

Carmen R. Marín was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, on February 18, 1975, and raised in Yauco. She currently lives in San Juan. She is a writer, editor, and proofreader; founder of Con Acento; Writing and Creative Writing teacher; and a high school Spanish teacher. Her bachelor’s degree in Hispanic Studies is from the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez, and her master’s degree in Spanish is from Binghamton University (State University of New York). She also has courses leading to a doctorate in Hispanic Language and Literature from Stony Brook University (SUNY Stony Brook). She worked as an editor at the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture Publishing House. In 2013, she published her first book, the collection of poems Salvahuidas (Erizo Editorial). Her most recent publications are the poetry book Encamadas (Trabalis Editores, Puerto Rico, 2020) and the hybrid textbook Cosmogonías y otras sales (Editora Educación Emergente, Puerto Rico, 2019).  Carmen dreams “of a society where a girl is not afraid to speak, an adolescent is not afraid of losing, and a woman is not afraid of winning.” About being named a Letras Boricuas Fellow, Carmen expresses that “When I say that receiving this fellowship is an immense honor and that it has taken me by surprise, it is not false modesty. The fear of assuming myself speaks. I see myself in an unsuspected mirror, as a writer, as a poet, and as part of a group in charge of perpetuating wonder through words, against so many barriers, against so much carelessness.”

Vanessa Mártir

Vanessa Mártir is a writer, educator, and editor. She was born in New York City, raised in Brooklyn, New York, and now lives in Orange County, New York. She is the founder of the Writing Our Lives Workshop and the Writing the Mother Wound Movement. Her essays and writing have been published in NYU’s Latinx Project Intervenxiones, The Guardian, Longreads, The New York Times, The Rumpus, and The Washington Post and were nominated for the Best American Essays series in 2020 and 2021. In 2019, she was awarded the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Kurt Brown Award in Creative Nonfiction for her essay “Sopa Ministry for the Grieving and Unmothered.” She also is a recipient of a residency at the Pocantico Center. About being named a Letras Boricuas Fellow, Martir says, “Money takes up so much mental and emotional space, as does imposter syndrome, which is especially intense for us BIPOC and colonized people who’ve been taught, directly and subliminally, that we don’t matter, and our stories don’t belong in the world. This fellowship means a group of art lovers and professionals acknowledges the value of my work and wants to see my work out in the world. It puts my worries about money and worth on pause.”

Luis Negrón

Luis Negrón was born in Guayama, Puerto Rico, on March 15, 1970. He currently lives in Santurce. He is a writer and bookseller. Claridad and The New York Times have published his work. His book of short stories Mundo cruel has been made into theater and film and published in 18 countries. Its English translation, by Suzanne Jill Levine (Seven Stories, 2013), won the Lambda Literary Award in 2013. In 2017, he published the book of chronicles Los tres golpes (ICP, 2016) and El jardín, a piece of musical theater (Ediciones La Esquina, 2021), went on stage. In 2007, he was a co-anthologist in Los otros cuerpos: Antología de temática gay, lésbica y queer desde Puerto Rico y su diáspora (Tiempo Nuevo, 2007). Luis is inspired to write “by literature itself; only writing can forcefully inspire the need to write.” Luis dreams of a country with democratic access to books. About being named a Letras Boricuas Fellow, Luis says that “it means an unimaginable validation, a debt to rigor, an opportunity to create without the siege of necessity.”

Manolo Núñez Negrón

Manolo Núñez Negrón was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, on June 6, 1980, and was raised in San Sebastián. He is a professor of literature and a writer. He studied literature at the University of Puerto Rico, at New York University, and at Harvard, where he received his doctorate in 2010. He was an assistant professor of Hispanic Studies at Wellesley College and Spanish and Comparative Literature at the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras. He was a columnist for the Buscapié section of El Nuevo Día and published the short novel Barra china (2010) and two books of stories and a chronicles book. His most recent publication is Burundanga Express (Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, Puerto Rico, 2019). He received the Premio Nuevas Voces from the Festival de la Palabra in 2016. For reasons beyond his control, he has devoted himself to the practice of law. Regarding his literary vocation, Manolo shares that “it may have a lot to do with the cultivation of oral memory, and with the experience of violence and the displacement of individuals. Those of us who grew up in Puerto Rico in the 1990s were citizens of fear. I believe that this imprint – so associated with drug trafficking and social inequality – has left a profound mark on my imagination.” About being named a Letras Boricuas Fellow, Núnez Negrón says that “the great Flamboyan-Mellon fellowship recognizes the complexity of the task of those who write, and gives me, above all, the possibility of enjoying the time necessary to create. Time —not money— is the real reward.”

Juanluís Ramos

Juanluís Ramos was born in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, on March 25, 1985. He is the author of the short story books Reyerta TV (Libros AC, Puerto Rico, 2009), for which he won the 2009 National Short Story Prize awarded by the Pen Club of Puerto Rico; and Shadowplay (ICP, Puerto Rico, 2017). In 2017, he received the Premio Nuevas Voces from the Festival de la Palabra. He has published academic and literary works and reviews in local and international magazines. Juanluís is inspired to write by “everyday life; the imaginaries we create; the individual as well as the collective; those experiences that no matter how much we explain them, no one ever believes us.” Receiving this fellowship means for him “support to be able to finish several projects that he has had to interrupt due to the savagery of recent years.”

Jonatan María Reyes

Jonatan María Reyes was born on July 31, 1984, in Santurce, Puerto Rico, and currently lives on Long Island, New York. This poet and screenwriter published the books Data de otro ardor (Verbum, Spain, 2018), Databending (Barnacle, Argentina, 2019) and Lo común también cruje (La Impresora, Puerto Rico, 2020/Herring Publishers, México, 2020). He obtained the XI International Poetry Prize “Gastón Baquero” and was a finalist for several poetry awards. Some of his works have been translated into Italian, Greek, English, French, and Portuguese. He edits the poetry magazine Low-fi ardentía. Regarding his inspiration when writing, Jonatan told us, “I am inspired by my upbringing neighborhood and its streets of the unexpected hustle and bustle; in those who were once my neighbors; in my brief family and their struggle and their way of resisting; in those slippery places that the system tries to reduce; in discarded things that shine in private; in everyday life; in the empty spaces; in insignificant things that vibrate; in the background.” About being named a Letras Boricuas Fellow, Jonatan said, “receiving this fellowship means strength when I feel weakness. It also means hope, relief, freedom, a place to create with even more intensity, as it validates the work that I have been doing for some time. It is a way of reinforcing my art, world, core, struggle, and reality.”

Yara Liceaga Rojas

Yara Liceaga Rojas is a poet/writer, artist, educator, cultural worker, and consultant in the art sector. She was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, raised in Dorado, Puerto Rico, and now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts on the traditional lands of the Massachusetts and Pawtucket people. She is the author of Hacernos el adiós (Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, Puerto Rico, 2019) and the forthcoming bilingual version, translated by Puerto Rican poet Sabrina Ramos Rubén. She is the recipient of the 2021-2022 Boston Neighborhood Fellow from The Boston Foundation, the 2021 The ARTery (25 Artists of Color Transforming the Cultural Landscape) from WBUR, the 2021 Collective Imagination for Spatial Justice Grant [with Mar Parrilla & Luana Morales] from theNew England Foundation for the Arts, the 2020 Cambridge Arts Grant from Cambridge Arts Council, the 2020 Latinx Amplifier from Amplify Latinx, the 2019 Brother Thomas Fellow from The Boston Foundation, the 2019 Run of the Mills Artist Residency from the Boston Center for the Arts, and the 2019 Live Arts Boston Grant from The Boston Foundation. She is inspired to write by “the many wonders hidden in everyday life, the magic of the tiny details that together show a hidden reality” and “poetry’s ability to expose what’s hidden in reality, those truths that are not self-evident.” About being named a Letras Boricuas Fellow, Rojas says, “To receive this fellowship means to me an unexpected, astonishing recognition that will allow me to focus on my next poetry book and the art projects I will create in 2022.”

Mercy Romero

Mercy Romero is a writer and professor. She was born in Connecticut, raised in New Jersey, and lives in the Bay Area in California. She received a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and teaches American Literature and American Studies at Sonoma State University. She is the author of Toward Camden (Duke University Press, 2021) and has published works in publications including Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly (2019) and Capacious: Journal for Emerging Affect Inquiry (2017). Her awards and honors include being named the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Scholar in Residence and the National Endowment for the Humanities-Ford Foundation Fellow 2021-2022 and receiving the Duke University Press Scholars of Color First Book Award of 2021. She is inspired to write by her “curiosity and love of archival research, people, and language.” About being named a Letras Boricuas Fellow, Romero says, “This fellowship feels like a reminder ‘to keep going.’” She is honored to receive this fellowship in this spirit and in the loving memory of her grandparents, Margarita and Antonio Lopez and Maria Mercedes and Alfredo Romero.

María Teresa Fernández Rosario

María Teresa Fernández Rosario, also known as Mariposa, is an award-winning poet, writer, educator, and activist. She was born in the Bronx, New York, where she still lives. She has performed at numerous colleges and universities throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and abroad, and has been featured on BET, HBO Latino, and PBS. Her poems have been published in numerous magazines and journals, including And Then Magazine, La Repuesta Magazine, and Tribes, as well as in the anthologies, African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song (Library of America, 2020); Conceptualizing Afro Latinidad in AfroLatina/o Literature and Performance; Label me Latina/o Special Issue: Black and Latina; Latinas: Protest & Struggle in 21st Century USA; and Manteca: Anthology of AfroLatin@ Poets. She is the recipient of the 2021 City Artist Corps Award, awarded by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and the New York Foundation of the Arts and the 2020-2021 CUNY Adjunct Incubator grant, awarded by The Center for Humanities. She is inspired to write “to create art that documents my personal experience and what we have survived” and “to name what there is to be named, from celebrating our strengths and victories to denouncing the injustices and ongoing violations of our human rights as Puerto Ricans, on the Island and the diaspora.” About being named a Letras Boricuas Fellow, Fernández says, “It is a great honor and deeply humbling to be recognized by my own people.”

Xavier Valcárcel

Xavier Valcárcel was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on February 13, 1985. He grew up in Loíza, where he lived for 31 years. He is a writer, visual artist, and cultural manager. He studied Fine Arts and Architecture Education at the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras, where he also completed a master’s degree in Cultural Management and Administration. In 2009, together with Nicole Delgado, he created the guerrilla publishing house Atarraya Cartonera. He has published seven books of poetry, including Cama onda (2007), Palo de lluvia (2010), Restos de lumbre y despedida (2012), El deber del pan (2013), and Fe de calendario (2016). His most recent publication is Aterrizar no es regreso, a personal chronicle (Ediciones Alayubia, San Juan, 2019). He has participated as a guest writer in various conferences, fairs, artistic residencies, readings, and exhibitions in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Mexico, the United States, and Germany. Some of his texts have been translated into English, German, and Portuguese. When talking about his work, Xavier shares that “I have grown up amid the violence and beauty of an archipelago that does not rest or end. From there, my writing is, represents, embodies, reflects multiple identities, the ‘queer’ the Puerto Rican experience, the trapped against the sea, the broken, the dreams of the possible and the impossible, from a voice that is not only one voice but multiple voices at the same time.”  About the Letras Boricuas fellowship, Xavier reflects the following: “In a country where literature survives, is known and shines thanks to the tireless effort of the writers’ self-management (not thanks to the state or the institutions), a fellowship like this is a message in support of the work done. In that sense, after years of work, I feel that this fellowship is a recognition that comes as direct financial support to give continuity to my career and my creative production.”

Selection Committee

Carina del Valle Schorske

Carina del Valle Schorske is a writer and translator living between New York City and Puerto Rico. Her essays and criticism have been published in many venues including Bookforum, The Believer, The Common, Virginia Quarterly Review, and the New York Times Magazine, where she is a contributing writer. Her cover story on Bad Bunny was featured on CBS, and her essay on the social history of her grandmother’s apartment building in Washington Heights was a finalist for a National Magazine Award. Alongside Ricardo Maldonado, Erica Mena, and Raquel Salas Rivera, she co-edited Puerto Rico en mi corazón, a bilingual anthology of contemporary poetry from both the archipelago and diaspora (Anomalous Press, 2019). She won Gulf Coast’s 2016 Prize for her translations of the Puerto Rican poet Marigloria Palma–an ongoing project. Her debut essay collection, The Other Island, was honored with a Whiting Nonfiction Grant in 2020 and is forthcoming from Riverhead Books.

Aracelis Girmay

Aracelis Girmay was born and raised in Santa Ana, California. She received a BA from Connecticut College in 1999 and went on to earn an MFA in poetry from New York University. She is the author of the black maria (BOA Editions, 2016), Kingdom Animalia (BOA Editions, 2011), winner of the Isabella Poetry Award and a finalist for the National Books Critics Circle Award, and Teeth (Curbstone Press, 2007). In a statement for the New American Poets series, she says of her work, “I hope the poems are songs sometimes. I want the poems to ask questions. To engage other people. To promote compassion.” Girmay was awarded a Whiting Award in 2015, and the judges’ citation notes that “her project seems to be our deep and ongoing subjectivity, our vulnerability to history, to one another, to desire, and to the belief in something large and lasting that we might belong to. There’s empathy, play, and fearlessness here, and both formal and emotional range.” Girmay is also the author of a collage-based picture book, changing, changing (George Braziller, 2005). She has received fellowships from Cave Canem, Civitella Ranieri, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She teaches and lives in New York City.

Eduardo Lalo

Eduardo Lalo is a Puerto Rican writer and artist. He has published the novels La inutilidad, Simone, and Historia de Yuke, and the collections of essays Los pies de San Juan, Los países invisibles, and Intemperie, among other titles. His visual work has been part of fifteen individual exhibitions. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin and at Oxford University in England. He received the prestigious Rómulo Gallegos Prize in 2013 for his novel Simone.

Willie Perdomo

Willie Perdomo is the author of Smoking Lovely: The RemixThe Crazy BunchThe Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon, and Where a Nickel Costs of Dime.  Winner of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Cy Twombly Award for Poetry and the PEN Open Book Award, Perdomo was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award.  He is co-editor of the anthology, Latínext, and his work has appeared in The New York Times MagazinePoetry, The Washington Post, The Best American Poetry 2019, and African Voices. He teaches at Phillips Exeter Academy and was recently appointed New York State Poet Laureate.

Félix Joaquín Rivera

Félix Joaquín Rivera is a writer and university professor. He has published La muñeca de chocolate (nonfiction novel, 1995), and La Cripta (short novel, 2021). He has a BA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison; an MA. from Teachers College, Columbia University, New York; and a Ph.D. in Puerto Rican Literature from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. His research and teaching interests are Poetry; Posthumanism; Post dramatic theater; Queer-Postcolonialist-Afrocaribbean theories; and Subjectivity; among others… He has worked as an editor and a journalist. Some writers for whom he has edited are: Luis Felipe Díaz, Hjalmar Flax, Pedro Juan Soto, Myrna Casas, and Mayra Santos.

Mayra Santos-Febres

Mayra Santos-Febres was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, in 1966. She studied literature at the University of Puerto Rico and has a Ph.D. from Cornell University. She has been a visiting scholar at Rutgers (1992), Cornell (1994), and Harvard University (2004), as well as the Complutense University in Spain (2013), and Leipzig University in Holland (2005), among others. She co-created the Creative Writing Program for the University of Puerto Rico and founded and directed The Word Festival/Festival de la Palabra, the most internationally recognized Literary Festival in Puerto Rico (2010-2019). Santos-Febres is currently the Principal Investigator for the development of the University of Puerto Rico’s Afro Diasporic and Race Studies Program, which recently received a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for academic diversification.  As a writer, Mayra Santos-Febres has won many international prizes and recognitions, such as the Letras de Oro Award (Spain, 1994), one of Radio France Juan Rulfo Awards (1998), and the Premio Primavera Award, Spain (2011) for her novel Nuestra Señora de la Noche. She has published the poetry collections Anamú y manigua (1990), El orden escapado (1991), Boat People (1994), Tercer Mundo (2004), Lecciones de renuncia (2021), and Huracanada (2018). Her short story books include Pez de vidrio y otros cuentosEl cuerpo correcto, Un pasado posible y Mujeres violentas. She has also published the novels Sirena Selena vestida de pena (2001), Cualquier miércoles soy tuya (2002), Fe en disfraz (2009), Nuestra Señora de la noche (2006), and La amante de Gardel (2015).