Poet Levi Romero. Photo by Xanath Carraza
New Mexico Arts and the New Mexico State Library, both divisions of the Department of Cultural Affairs, are excited to announce the appointment of Levi Romero of Albuquerque as the state’s inaugural Poet Laureate.
His first act will be to read a poem during Library Legislative Day Jan. 31 at the Roundhouse.
“I am very excited about the selection of Levi Romero as New Mexico’s first state poet laureate,” said Sen. Bill O’Neill of Albuquerque, sponsor of the legislation that funded the Poet Laureate program and a poet himself. “His poetry has won national recognition, and as a native New Mexican he has manifested his commitment to our state by his long teaching career.”
Romero has published two collections of poetry – A Poetry of Remembrance: New and Rejected Works and In the Gathering of Silence. He’s also the co-author of the book Sagrado: A Photopoetics Across the Chicano Homeland, written with Spencer R. Herrera.
Romero’s work has received numerous awards and accolades, including two Society for Humanistic Anthropology Poetry Award Honorable Mentions in 2017, an International Latino Book Award in 2015, two Southwest Book Awards in 2014 and 2015, a New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, finalist for the Writers’ League of Texas Book Award, and recognition for Best Books of the Southwest. He was selected as New Mexico’s Centennial Poet in 2012.
Romero was chosen from four New Mexico poets nominated for the position of Poet Laureate. The criteria for selection included quality of poetry, language and oral facility, suitability of work for civic celebration, literary recognition, engagement in past projects that involve poetry, and other experiences related to poetry.
The Poet Laureate selection committee composed of Valerie Martinez, poet and Director of History and Literary Arts at the National Hispanic Cultural Center; poet and artist Anne MacNaughton, co-founder of SOMOS, the Taos Poetry Circus and the Poet Education Project; and Eileen Sullivan, director of the Los Alamos Library. The three other nominees were Jimmy Santiago Baca, Lauren Camp, and Manuel Gonzalez.
The three-year position of Poet Laureate includes an annual stipend of $25,000, travel and printing expenses, and part-time staff support. The position will support literacy and enhance education while promoting arts enrichment across the state. Through speaking engagements statewide and programs at schools and libraries, the poet will engage all New Mexicans with poetry. They also will document their travels via web journal and podcast.
Originally from the Embudo Valley in northern New Mexico, Romero is an assistant professor in the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at the University of New Mexico, where he directs the New Mexico Cultural Landscapes Certificate program and the Digital Cuentos project.
About Levi Romero
Levi Romero’s most recent book is Sagrado: A Photopoetics Across the Chicano Homeland (coauthored with Spencer Herrera and Robert Kaiser). His two collections of poetry are A Poetry of Remembrance: New and Rejected Works and In the Gathering of Silence. His work has received numerous awards and accolades, including two Society for Humanistic Anthropology Poetry Award Honorable Mentions in 2017, an International Latino Book Award in 2015, two Southwest Book Awards in 2014 and 2015, a New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, finalist for the Writers’ League of Texas Book Award, and recognition for Best Books of the Southwest. A recipient of several NEA and NEH grant awards, he was selected as New Mexico Centennial Poet in 2012.
Romero is a bilingual poet whose language is immersed in the manito dialect of northern New Mexico. His work has been published throughout the United States, Mexico, Spain and Cuba. His poem writing exercise, “Where I’m From, De donde yo soy,” based on the original poem, “Where I’m From,” by George Ella Lyon, was published by Scholastic as part of a nationwide educational project and has been used extensively both nationally and internationally. He has taught writing workshops for schools, universities, incarcerated populations, libraries, community centers, writers’ organizations, private mentorships, and has also worked with community libraries on various ethno-poetry and oral history documentation projects.
His work has been featured in numerous anthologies and online publications. He has co-directed two films on acequia culture. Bendicicn de/ agua, a short film based on Taos’s very own Olivia Romo, premiered at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, and Going Home Homeless won a People’s Choice Award at the Taos Shortz Film Festival.
Romero is from the Embudo Valley of northern New Mexico. He is an Assistant Professor in the Chicana and Chicano Studies department at the University of New Mexico, where he directs the New Mexico Cultural Landscapes Certificate program and the Digital Cuentos project.
About New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, New Mexico Arts, and New Mexico State Library
Created in 1978 by the New Mexico Legislature, the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) is New Mexico’s cultural steward, charged with preserving and showcasing the state’s cultural riches. With its eight museums, seven historic sites, arts, archaeology, historic preservation, and library programs, the DCA is one of the largest and most diverse state cultural agencies in the nation. Together, the facilities, programs, and services of the Department support a $5.6 billion cultural industry in New Mexico.
New Mexico Arts is a division of the DCA and partners with the New Mexico Museum of Art in presenting the annual Governor’s Arts Awards events.
The New Mexico State Library provides services that support public and tribal libraries, delivers direct library services to rural populations, state agencies, the visually impaired and physically disabled, and students and citizens conducting research.
Events, news releases, and images related to activities in divisions of the DCA can be accessed at media.newmexicoculture.org.