University of Texas at El Paso
UTEP Bilingual MFA Program
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CRW 5368 Variable Topics in Creative Writing               MW 4:30-5:50/ WORR  205

Prof. Rosa Alcalá                  

Office: Liberal Arts 212                    Hours: Mondays 9-11/Thursdays 2-4/by appointment


Latin American and Spanish Poets, Home and Abroad


One of the most fertile periods for modern poetry in all its manifestations, but especially for Latin American and Spanish poetry, can be found in the first four decades of the 20th century. The transatlantic exchange that began with Spain’s introduction to modernismo by Nicaraguan poet Rubén Dario at the end of the 19th century, was followed by a steady influx of Latin American poets to Europe that would respond not only to international aesthetic movements, but also to the particularities of their own local landscapes and identities. 


The goal for this class is two-fold: to introduce (or re-introduce) you to the ground-breaking and foundational texts that map the international and local rhizome that is 20th century Spanish and Latin American poetry, and to encourage writing that engages new physical, cultural, and linguistic landscapes.  Therefore, throughout the semester a series of exercises will require a creative dialogue with the texts, our immediate environs, and those places we’ve left behind.   I will also require, as your final assignment, a critical essay.


At the beginning of the semester, I will assign one student to lead the discussion each week.  This “responder” will prepare a short (5-10 minute) prompt that responds to the reading and poses a series of questions or concerns for discussion.


This class will be conducted bilingually, which means that any of the assignments can be written in either language.  Close readings of the poems and intense class discussions  will be the main mode of instruction.  And whether you speak in English or Spanish, I do require that you participate fully. 



Writing Exercises 40% (10 % each)

Participation 20%

Final Paper (10-15 pages) 40%


In Campus Bookstore

García Lorca, Federico.  Poet in New York.  Trans. G. Simon & S. F. White.

Huidobro, Vicente.  Altazor.  Trans. Eliot Weinberger. 

Mistral, Gabriela.  Selected Poems.  Trans. Ursula K. Le Guin. 

Neruda, Pablo.  Confieso que he vivido.

Vallejo, César.  The Complete Posthumous Poetry. Trans. Clayton Eshelman.

Zemborain, Lila.  Gabriela Mistral:  Una mujer sin rostro.


Other Required Readings

Borges, Jorge Luis.  Fervor de Buenos Aires.

Brodsky, Joseph.  “The Condition We Call Exile.”

Paz, Octavio.  “Luis Cernuda:  The Edifying Word.”

Barnette, Douglas.  Introducción y selección de poemas.  El exilio en la poesía de Luis Cernuda.

Cernuda, Luis.  Selección, Variaciones sobre tema mexicano.

García Lorca, Federico.  “La imagen poética de don Luis de Góngora.”

Glissant, Édouard. Selection, Poetics of Relation.

Guillén, Nicolás. Trans. Langston Hughes & Ben Frederic Carruthers. Cuba Libre.

Fernández, Retamar, Roberto. “Guillén en la poesía cubana contemporanea.”

Heidegger, Martin.  “...Poetically Man Dwells...”

Gazarian-Gautier, Marie-Lise. “The Walking Geography of Gabriela Mistral.”

Rich, Adrienne.  “Tourism and Promised Lands.”

Salinas, Pedro.  Selección de El contemplado y Todo más claro.

Storni, Alfonsina.  Mascarilla y trébol.


Schedule (subject to change)


Week   1 (Aug. 23, 25) Heidegger [exercise #1 assigned]

            2 (Aug. 30, Sept. 1) Heidegger/ Huidobro

            3 (Sept. 8) [No Class Sept. 6] Lorca, Poeta en Nueva York (recommended: “Imagen Poética.”)

            4 (Sept. 13, 15) Lorca/Borges [exercise #2 assigned]

            5 (Sept. 20, 22) Neruda

6 (Sept. 27 & 29) Presentation/discussion of exercises 1 & 2             

7 (Oct. 4, 6) Brodksy, Rich, Glissant [exercise #3 assigned] :

Edward Said’s, “Reflections on Exile”)

8 (Oct. 11, 13) Barnette, Cernuda (selections & Tema...) (recommended: Paz)

9 (Oct. 18, 20) Vallejo (Sermón de la barbarie & España, aparta de mi este cáliz) (recommended,

: Neruda’s España en el corazón)

          10 (Oct. 25, 27) Salinas [exercise #4 assigned]

          11 (Nov. 1, 3) Storni

          12 (Nov. 8, 10)  Presentation/discussion of exercises 3 & 4    

          13 (Nov. 15, 17) Mistral (In the LeGuin trans.: Tala: 169-203; Lagar: 221-317; Poema de Chile); 

    Zemborain (recommended: Gazarian-Gautier)

          14 (Nov. 22) [No Classes Nov. 24 & 26] Guillén (recommended: Retamar)

          15 (Nov 29, Dec. 1) [Last day of class] Guillén


Papers due Dec. 8th .