WT’s Distinguished Lecture Series to Bring Hispanic Culture to Life Through Poetry

CANYON, Texas — An award-winning Mexican poet invested in Latin American indigenous cultures will share poetry that honors the perspectives of Native American and Latin American customs and traditions.

The WT Distinguished Lecture Series will present “Latinx Poetry and the Stories of America” featuring Judith Santopietro at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 18 in the Sybil B. Harrington Fine Arts Complex Recital Hall.

The Department of English, Philosophy and Modern Languages will host the event, which is free and open to the public.

“The WT Spanish program has been bringing Hispanic women poets each fall semester since 2017,” said Dr. Andrew Reynolds, professor of Spanish. “We are very excited about Judith’s visit and the way she gives voice to indigenous cultures that are often forgotten or left out when we think about ‘Hispanic’ or ‘Mexican-American’ stories.”

Santopietro holds a master’s degree in Iberian and Latin American literatures and cultures from the University of Texas at Austin and has carried out research residencies in The Netherlands, New York City and Bolivia.

“I became a poet because I wanted to recreate in my poems those extraordinary characters of the oral history—nahuales, chaneques, flying women and other extraordinary beings,” Santopietro said.

Santopietro has published two books: “Palabras de Agua” in 2010 and “Tiawanaku. Poemas de la Madre Coqa (Tiawanaku. Poems from the Mother Coqa)” in 2019. She was awarded the Lázara Meldiú National Poetry Prize in 2014 and was a finalist for the Sarah Maguire Prize for Poetry in Translation in 2021. She has published in the “Anuario de Poesía Mexicana 2006” and “The Brooklyn Rail,” and also has participated in numerous festivals, including PEN America’s World Voices Festival in New York in 2018.

In addition, Santopietro directed “Iguanazul: literature on indigenous languages” (2005-2016), a project to highlight native languages through oral tradition, literature and arts.

“I experiment with the language, Náhuatl, into my poems to recreate sounds, rhythms, and even some memories of my foremothers,” Santopietro said.

Currently, Santopietro is writing a poetry book on enforced disappearance in Mexico and a novel on indigenous migration in the US. She has joined the fall residency of the Iowa International Writing Program.

“It is important to see migration and displacement not as political issue that led to loss of culture, family, and language, but as a way of resistance to build and nurture communities, recreate culture and language, to exist with our voice and presence in the new territories inhabited,” Santopietro said.

In addition to the evening performance, Santopietro will lead “A Poetry and Writing Discussion” at 12:20 p.m. Oct. 18 in the Cornette Library Blackburn Room.

“The Americas is a vibrant continent in terms of languages and cultures,” Santopietro said. “We definitely are part of a living creature, and our steps write a long poem on it.”

WT has been an official Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016. Addressing the needs of its diverse population is a key goal of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021 — has raised more than $110 million.

The mission of the Distinguished Lecture Series is to invite nationally prominent experts to the WT campus to expose students to some of the most important issues of our times and to inspire and enlighten students, faculty and the community. All DLS events are free and open to the public.