Ruiz-Pérez Wins International Poetry Award

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A book of poetry by Associate Professor Ignacio Ruiz-Pérez (Modern Languages) has claimed a highly coveted international award.

Notas manuscripts llenas de incógnitas (or Manuscript Notes Full of Questions) won the Ninth Annual “Luis Cardoza y Aragón” Poetry Prize, an award sponsored by the Mexican Embassy in Guatemala, the Guatemalan Ministry of Culture, and a major Mexican publishing house. Ruiz-Pérez said he is honored to receive the award.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said when he was told of the accolade. “This prize celebrates one of the most important writers in Spanish-language literature, so it’s an immense honor for me to have won the award, and it reinforces my commitment to literature. I was really excited because I know other important writers who have won the award in the past.”

The contest is open to poets from Mexico and all of Central America, and as such, it’s an international prize. Work is submitted anonymously and a jury selects a winner. The winning work is published through Editorial Cultura, a Guatemalan publisher. Mexican publisher Fondo de Cultura Económica, which distributes books throughout Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, is also a contest sponsor.

Ruiz-Pérez said the award is particularly surprising because Notas is a compilation of “B-sides” of his work: poems and fragments he decided not to include in a different book he is writing, and in another that is due later this year. The format and numerous topics formed a unique product, he said, one with a particular unity coming from its fragmented condition.

“Basically, it’s a book of notes,” said Ruiz-Pérez. “It’s a book conceived from readings, reflections on literature, life and existence, in general. These are reflections on topics that are important to me or that have obsessed me for years. What characterizes the book is its hybrid and liminal condition. The book is composed by poems in a traditional sense, and aphorisms. In other words, the book combines poems in verse and prose that challenge the concept of limit and liminality. It is a book that moves in a sort of textual nowhere.”

In addition to his scholarly work in the field of Mexican literature, Ruiz-Pérez is a critically acclaimed poet in Mexico. There, he has won numerous national and regional poetry prizes, such as the “José Gorostiza” Poetry Prize (2004), the “Rodulfo Figueroa” Regional Poetry Prize (2005), the Salvador Gallardo Dávalos National Prize for Young Poets (2006). Such prizes have helped him publish three books of poetry in Mexico, with two more on the way. In 2011, Lynx House Press published an English translation of Navegaciones (The Sign of the Crow, version by Carlos Reyes).

Ruiz-Pérez said winning the “Cardoza y Aragón” prize would not only impact attention for Notas but also create buzz for a forthcoming book, Papeles robados al fuego, slated to be published by the Instituto Mexiquense de Cultura (Mexico) later this year.

“The main impact [of winning an award] is having the book published and a new way to present the material to the public,” he said. “There are a potential number of readers in Central America who will want to read this book. The publicity surrounding the book and the award will increase readership, and this makes me happy.”

Ruiz-Pérez has taught Spanish language and literature at UT Arlington since 2005. He has also been a Faculty Research Associate of the Center for Mexican American Studies.

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(Photo credit: Luisa Ruiz)

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