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Tino Villanueva, recipient of the American Book Award, will host the MacKnight Black Poetry Reading 8 p.m. Monday, April 15, in the auditorium of Kirby Hall of Civil Rights.

Held in honor of National Poetry Month and sponsored by the department of English, the event is free and open to the public. This year’s winners of the annual MacKnight Black Poetry Competition, open to Lafayette seniors, will read their prize-winning pieces. Villanueva, who served as guest judge for the competition, will follow with readings from his own works.

“Tino Villanueva should be particularly attractive to students because of the dynamism and compassion of his vision,” says Lee Upton, an accomplished poet and critic and the first Lafayette faculty member to hold the title writer-in-residence.

Open to seniors, the annual competition is named for MacKnight Black, a 1916 graduate of Lafayette, who at the time of his death in 1931 was one of America’s most significant poets.

Katherine Pelletier, a double major in English and art from Hingham, Mass., received first prize in the competition for “The Journey.” Honorable mentions went to Seth Thomas, an A.B. engineering major from Lodi, N.Y., for “Those Flying Dreams”; Daniel Herman, an English major from Brookfield, Conn., for “december fourteenth blues”; and Liza Zitelli, an English major from Bergenfield, N.J., for “Last Night’s Fraternity Party.”

A recipient of a Ford Foundation Fellowship, Villenueva is the founder of Imagine Publishers and editor of Imagine: International Chicano Poetry Journal. Other collections of poetry he has authored include Hay Otra Voz Poems (1972), Shaking off the Dark (1984), Cronica de mis anos peoros (1987), and Scene from the Movie GIANT (1993), which won a 1994 American Book Award. During that same year, Chronicle of my Worst Years/Cronica de mis anos peores appeared in a bilingual edition. His work has been published in several anthologies, as well as high school and college textbooks. He also has served as editorial consultant for Houghton Mifflin.

“Widely recognized as one of the most important Chicano voices, Villanueva has the reputation of being demanding in his critical judgments yet generous with his attention; and his voice is increasingly known for being both cosmopolitan and democratic,” notes The Texas Observer. “Reginald Gibbons, former editor of TriQuarterly and an award-winning novelist and poet, recently wrote that Villanueva exhibits what W.E.B. Dubois called ‘double consciousness,’ the deep knowledge of two different cultures in a society.”

Villanueva has been invited to give lectures and poetry recitals by UCLA, Stanford University, Indiana University, University of Texas at Austin and Permian Basin, University of Pennsylvania, University of Erlangen (Germany), University of Gothenberg (Sweden), University of Venice (Italy), and Boston, Yale, Columbia, and Harvard universities.

Villanueva has painted since 1973. His work has been exhibited in El Paso, Berlin, Boston, and most recently, on the covers of Nexos, Green Mountains Review, and TriQuarterly. His chapbook Primera causa/First Cause (1999) was produced in bilingual format.

Born in San Marcos, Texas, Villanueva had a diversity of work experiences before his formal college education, ranging from migrant work to assembly-line construction of furniture in his hometown. After two years as a U.S. Army supply clerk in the Panama Canal Zone, he returned to the U.S. and earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and English in 1969. He received a master’s from SUNY-Buffalo in 1971 and a Ph.D. from Boston University in 1981.

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