Institute for Latino Studies to host award-winning writer in Washington, D.C.

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Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies (ILS), in partnership with Duende District Bookstore, is pleased to welcome award-winning poet, Javier Zamora, who will be in Washington, D.C. from February 26 through March 1. While in Washington Zamora will give a public reading, take part in a colloquium with university students, spend time with students at a bilingual elementary school, and dialogue with students in a college-level writing workshop.

“I’m so honored that I’ll soon be able to share my work in DC, an area with many Salvadorans and immigrants from all over the world,” said Zamora.

Javier Zamora was born in El Salvador in 1990. In 1999, he migrated through Guatemala, Mexico, and the Sonoran Desert before making it to Arizona and on to Northern California. His first book, Unaccompanied (Copper Canyon Press, 2017), explores how immigration and civil war have impacted his family. Zamora’s literary distinctions include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lannan Foundation.  He is currently a Wallace Stegner fellow at Stanford University.

“Javier Zamora’s distinctive work challenges us to see immigrants, and our own landscapes, differently,” said Don Share, editor of Poetry Magazine, the flagship publication of the Poetry Foundation, which awarded Zamora a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship in 2016. “Resonant and timely now, his vivid, energetic poems stand as a memorable testament to determination, justice, and redemption,” Share added.

“I’m looking forward to introducing Zamora to a cross section of students,” said Francisco Aragón, Notre Dame faculty member and director of Letras Latinas, who will moderate a “Monday Night Forum” with Zamora on February 26 at the UC Washington Center.

The consortium includes University of California, University of Notre Dame, University of Michigan, University of San Francisco, and the University of Pennsylvania.

On February 27, Zamora will visit Sacred Heart, a bilingual Catholic school in Washington, D.C., where students have been studying and engaging with his poems. “Javier Zamora brings the power of achievement through education and poetry directly into our classroom.  Many of our students hail from Central America and Javier’s poetry speaks directly to an experience they are deeply familiar with. His life and work are an inspiration to them,” said Carlos Parada Ayala, a teacher at the school, located in Columbia Heights.

On the evening of February 28, Zamora will perform his poems for the public at the UC Washington Center, where Zamora will be in residence for the duration of his time in DC.  “We’ve partnered with a number of local writing programs and other cultural organizations to bring together different constituencies to hear Javier. It promises to be a memorable evening,” said Aragón.

At his public reading Zamora will debut new poems as part of the initiative, “Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry and the Body,” the 2018 program of the Poetry Coalition—a group of nearly thirty poetry organizations (Letras Latinas is a founding member) from around the United States who work together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and the important contribution poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds.

Among the organizations collaborating with Letras Latinas and Duende District to publicize the event on February 28 are: Casa de la Cultura El Salvador, Split This Rock, Notre Dame Club of Washington, D.C., American University Creative Writing MFA Program, University of Maryland MFA Program in Creative Writing, Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House at the University of Maryland, and the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice at Georgetown University.

Zamora will spend his final evening in Washington, March 1, meeting with student poets enrolled in “Politics and Poems: Writing Verse in DC,” a writing workshop offered by Notre Dame to the consortium, and taught by Aragón.

“Letras Latinas places Notre Dame at the forefront of the most creative and  impactful literary work being done on Latino communities today,” states  Luis R. Fraga, Director of ILS.  Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at the Institute for Latino Studies, strives to enhance the visibility, appreciation and study of Latinx literature both on and off the campus of the University of Notre Dame—with an emphasis on programs that support newer voices, foster a sense of community among writers, and strive to place writers in community spaces.   

Founded in 2017, Duende District’s mission is to bring an inclusive bookstore experience to Washington, D.C. and surrounding areas. Currently itinerant, it focuses on latinx, black, and immigrant communities via pop-up bookstores and events that engage communities of color, while also inviting all people to participate in the resulting conversations.


Originally published by Institute for Latino Studies at on February 15, 2018.