Tuesday, September 1, 2015


52º F (11º C)

Spanish Professor Daniel Chávez Awarded Prestigious Poetry Prize from Mexico

UPDATED, Sept. 11, 2:10 p.m., to clarify that Daniel Chavez is also a faculty member in the interdisciplinary American Studies Program.

Daniel Chávez, assistant professor of Spanish and of American studies at the University of Virginia, has won a national poetry award from Mexico for his latest collection of poems.

Chávez, a faculty member of the College of Arts & Sciences Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, won the XXVIII National Poetry Award Efraín Huerta for his book, “Versiones en Luna Agreste y Nitrato de Plata (Versions in Wild Moon and Silver Nitrate).”

Chávez attended the award ceremony in the city of Tampico to receive the prize – which included $9,000 – in late August. 

The book, written in Spanish, is to be released in 2014. 

The city of Tampico in northeastern Mexico established the prize in 1982 in memory of one of the most important Mexican poets of the 20th century, Efraín Huerta (1914-1982). In its three decades, the prize has been awarded to some of the most distinguished living poets in Mexico, including María Baranda, Patricia Medina (who visited U.Va. in 2007), Tedi Lopez Mills and Juan Domingo Argüelles.

Tampico is recovering from a period of corruption and violence from drug cartels, Chávez said, but the current mayor, Magdalena Peraza Guerra, the first woman to hold the post, has worked to clean up and reclaim the city for its citizens and renew cultural activities, he said.

Despite commemorating Mexican history and culture, Chávez’s poems have a U.Va. connection. In 2009-10, as part of the commemoration of the centennial of the Mexican Revolution, Chávez organized a series of conferences and film screenings at U.Va. Inspired by the images and ideas, and the discussions and questions of students and colleagues at those events, he wrote the poems of “Versions in Wild Moon and Silver Nitrate.”

“The Mexican Revolution – one of the fundamental events of the North American 20th century – produced not only political upheaval, but also a dazzling response by painters, novelists, poets, muralists, film directors, playwrights and photographers,” David T. Gies, Commonwealth Professor of Spanish, said. “Chávez’s poems celebrate the legacy of that artistic and political revolution, and cast a critical eye on his country’s past.”

Chávez added, “The poems in ‘Versiones’ contain many historic and literary references, but also take a playful and critical stance toward recent Mexican history.” He said he dedicated the poems to the men and women of the revolution and sought to understand the meaning of their contributions for the present generation.

“Hasta Nuevo Aviso (Until Further Notice),” his first collection of poetry, was published in Mexico in 2006.

Chávez is planning to translate his poems into English for a bilingual edition and is currently working on two book-length, scholarly projects: “Between Markets: Cultural Politics in Contemporary Nicaragua” and a study of new media representations of Mexican and Mexican-American history and culture.

His teaching interests include U.S. Latino and Latin American cinema, media and nation-building, border studies and globalization, literature and revolution.

Chávez received his B.S. in biochemical engineering from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, in Monterrey and Queretaro, Mexico; his M.A. in Spanish and Latin American studies from Ohio University; and his Ph.D. in Spanish from the University of Michigan.

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