Feature Image

LATINO/A POETRY NOW: Syllabus for Fall ’14

ILS 20303 / ENGL 20720

Latino/a Poetry Now

University of Notre Dame

Days & Times: MW 9:30 – 10:45 AM

Room: 346 Grace Hall

Office: 204 D McKenna Hall

Office phone: 631-3481

E-mail address: faragon@nd.edu

Office Hours: NW 11 AM – 12 noon (and by appointment)

Required texts (2) from the Hammes Bookstore:

Aragon, Francisco (editor)

The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry (University of Arizona Press, 2007)

Vera, Dan

Speaking Wiri Wiri (Red Hen Press, 2013)

Class blog:


Supplemental handouts from

The Other Latin@: Writing Against a Singular Identity

(University of Arizona Press, 2011)

as well as handouts from the work of a few other poets not in The Wind Shifts anthology.

Description of the Course

 This course offers an opportunity to read, discuss, and write about a generous sampling of contemporary American poetry by Latino/as, utilizing as its principal text an award-winning anthology: The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry. We will supplement the anthology with one full-length collection, whose author will be visiting our class during the semester. We will also be relying significantly on a series of online video interviews—interviews conducted here at Notre Dame—with a number of the poets we’ll be studying, and in which they discuss their work. We will focus mainly on a younger generation of writers, discovering and examining some of the themes and traits that characterize this poetry. But we’ll also encounter poems that challenge and undermine what one might expect when one hears the term, “Latino/a poetry.”

Course Requirements

1) Complete the reading assignments in tandem with the class schedule.

2) Punctual and consistent attendance to class meetings.

3) 12 reflections posted on our class blog (150-250 words per reflection) that touch upon the readings that were NOT discussed in class and/or Oral History Video Interviews that were assigned that week.

4) 7 response papers (1 to 2 pages). These will be graded as follows: check plus (?+), worth 3 points; or check (?), worth 2 points; or check minus (?-), worth 1 point.

5) 3 medium-length essays (3-4 pages each). These will be given letter grades. Please note that that these essays will be in response to a series of prompts (you choose one) that will be provided. Revisions for the first essay are mandatory. Revisions for the second and third essay are optional.

6) Regular, consistent, participation in class discussion.

7) Recitation from memory 1 brief poem of your choosing, selected from the poems in any of the texts we’ll be looking at over the course of the term.

Course Policies

1) Mobile phones must be off by the start of the class (starting with mine).

2) All writing assignments must be word processed, with one-inch margins.

3) All assignments are to be turned in, in person, on the day they are due, unless you’ve made prior arrangements with me.

4) Any assignment turned in late will automatically have points taken away, unless you’ve spoken to me beforehand about a particular circumstance.

5) Behavior and speech that disrupts the collegial learning environment goes against the atmosphere we want to create in this class, and will be noted and impact your grade.

Attendance & Punctuality

Our aim is to create a space for engaged learning. Key to this goal is mutual respect for one another and our time—valuable time we spend preparing for class. Not coming to class, or coming to class late…works against this goal. So, unless you have a well-documented (i.e. doctor’s note) excuse, more than two unexcused absences, more than two instances of arriving to class late will be noted and will impact your final grade. Simple solutions: come to class; come to class on time (9:30 AM)–on a consistent basis.

Academic Code of Honor

Notre Dame students are expected to abide by the Academic Code of Honor Pledge. “As a member of the Notre Dame community, I will not participate in or tolerate academic dishonesty.” Plagiarism will have consequences.

Course evaluation break down

Essays (3)                              35%

Response Papers (7)              30%

Class Blog Posts (12)             15%

Class Participation                10%

Final Exam                            10%

Class Schedule

Week One


8/27                Review of syllabus and course expectations.

Dan Vera, Speaking Wiri Wiri (p. 29): “Lago de mil ojos”

Week Two

9/1                  “Latino Poetry” from Latino Boom (hand out)

Dan Vera, Speaking Wiri Wiri (p. 11 – 34), “I Know You Little Codfish”

and “Fabuloso Está En Especial”

9/3                  Dan Vera, Speaking Wiri Wiri (p.37 – 50), “Handsome Caudillos”

and “My Double”

Response paper #1 due

Blog post # 1* due by Sunday night 9/7

*questions for Dan Vera

 Week Three

9/8                    Dan Vera, Speaking Wiri Wiri (p. 53–78) “Mamá Makes The Local

Paper” and “How La Lupe Defeated The Alien Invasion

of 1969”. Review questions for Dan Vera’s visit.

9/10                  special guest: Dan Vera

Response paper #2 due

Blog post # 2 due by Sunday night 9/14

 Week Four

9/15                  Lidia Torres, The Wind Shifts (p. 245-253), “Visiting the Dead”

and “A Weakness for Boleros”

Oral History Video Interview

Lidia Torres, part 1:


Lidia Torres, part 2:


 9/17                John Olivares Espinoza, The Wind Shifts (p. 100 – 110), “Learning

Economics at Gemco” and “Las Cucarachas”                                                                                                                              Response paper #3 due /

Blog post #3 due by Sunday night 9/21

Week Five

9/22                      Brenda Cárdenas, The Wind Shifts (p. 53 – 61), “Empty Spaces”

and “Report from the Temple of Confessions

in Old Chicano English”

Oral History Video Interview

Brenda Cárdenas, part 1:


Brenda Cárdenas, part 2:


9/24                        Carl Marcum, The Wind Shifts (p. 172 – 179), “We Drove Some

Chevys (’79 Monte Carlo)” and “Notes from the Art


Response paper #4 due

Blog post # 4 due by Sunday night 9/28

 Week Six

9/29                    Sheryl Luna, The Wind Shifts ( p. 163 – 170), “Slow Dancing With

Frank Perez” and “Learning to Speak”

Oral History Video Interview

Sheryl Luna:



Essay #1 due

Blog post #5 due by Sunday night 10/5

Week Seven

10/6                       Raina J. León, selection from Boogeyman Dawn (handout),

“The disappearance of Fireflies” and “The Rising”

Oral History Video Interview

Raina J. León:


10/8                        Eduardo C. Corral, The Wind Shifts (p. 80 – 89), “Night Gives to

Things the Turning Beauty of Leaves”

and “Ditat Deus”

Response paper #5 due

Blog post #6 due by Sunday Night 10/12

 Week Eight

10/13                        John Murillo, selection from Up Jump The Boogie (handout)

“Enter the Dragon” and “Trouble Man”

Oral History Audio Interview:


John Murillo performs two poems, “Ode to the Cross Fader” and “1989”:


10/15                      Venessa Maria Engel-Fuentes, The Wind Shifts (p. 122 – 130),

“Hermanita, Hermanota”

and “Glass Grapes”

Response paper #6 due

Blog blog post # 7 due by Sunday 10/19

 10/18 – 10/26   FALL BREAK

Week Nine

10/27                          Paul Martínez Pompa, The Wind Shifts (p. 236 – 243),

“How To Hear Chicago,” “After Words”

and “Nightshift”

Oral History Video Interview

Paul Martinez Pompa:


10/29                        Special Guest: Paul Martínez Pompa

Blog post # 8 due by Sunday Night 11/2

 Week Ten

11/3                            Blas Falconer, selections from A Question of Gravity of Light

and The Foundling Wheel (handout), “The Given

Account” and “Vertigo”

Oral History Video Interview

Blas Falconer:


11/5                         Deborah Parédez, The Wind Shifts (p. 217 – 225), “The Fire”

and “Avocado”

Essay #2 due

Blog post #9 due by Sunday night 11/9

Week Eleven

11/10                          Steven Cordova, The Wind Shifts (p. 71 – 79), “Across A Table”

and “Ms. Daydream to You”

Oral History Video Interview

Steven Cordova, part 1:


Steven Cordova, part 2:


11/12                            David Dominguez, The Wind Shifts (p. 90 – 99), “Fingers”

and “Framework”

Blog post #10 due by Sunday Night 11/16

 Week Twelve

11/17                            Maria Melendez, The Wind Shifts (p. 180 – 189), “Nude Sonnet”

and “An Illustrated Guide To Things Unseen”

Oral History Video Interview

Maria Melendez, part 1:


Maria Melendez, part 2:


11/19                              David Hernandez, The Wind Shifts (p. 141 – 150), “Dog with

Elizabethan Collar” and “Dear Spanish”

Response paper #7 due

Blog post # 11 due by Sunday 11/23

 Week Thirteen

11/24                                Richard Blanco, The Wind Shifts (p. 41- 51). “Mother Picking

Produce” and “Crossing Boston Harbor”

Richard Blanco at Inauguration:


Week Fourteen

12/1                                Naomi Ayala, The Wind Shifts (p. 32 – 40), “Hole”

and “Horses”

Oral History Video Interview

Naomi Ayala:


12/3                                Emmy Pérez, The Wind Shifts (p. 226 – 235), “One Morning”

and “History of Silence”

Essay #3 due

Blog post #12 due by 12/7

Week Fifteen

12/8                                    Rosa Alcalá , The Wind Shifts (p. 11 – 21), Cante Grande”

                                                                   and “The Sixth Avenue Go-Go Lounge”

Recitation of poems from memory (group #1)

12/10                                   Scott Inguito, The Wind Shifts: (p. 152 – 161), “Guadalupe

Beach”and “Bats Trace Their Droppings

Painting Words”

 Recitation of poems from memory (group #2)