William Archila

William Archila is the author of The Art of Exile (Bilingual Review Press, 2009), which won an International Latino Book Award in 2010 and was honored with an Emerging Writer Fellowship Award by The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD. He has been published in AGNI, American Poetry Review, Notre Dame Review, Crab Orchard Review, and The Georgia Review, among others. His book was featured in ‘First Things First: The Fifth Annual Debut Poets Roundup’ in Poets & Writers. His second book, The Gravedigger’s Archaeology (Red Hen Press, forthcoming), recently won the 2015 Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize.

All Books

The Gravedigger’s Archaeology

William Archila

Publication Date: March 5, 2015

$18.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-371-2


The Gravedigger’s Archaeology writes the urban landscape of the US immigrant, a figure constantly reminded of the nameless and the dispossessed who struggle back home in Central America. Moving between past and present, these poems record a vigil of loss left by the emptiness of tedious excavation―both psychological and spiritual. They travel the fragments and vestiges of a war, the return to one’s homeland or place of childhood, unearthing the landscapes of a jazz riff, myth, or work of art. In a lyrical, sometimes elegiac language, the poems map the complex territory of an exile who understands the answers lie in the ground.

Praise for The Gravedigger’s Archaeology

“Tough music is the first phrase I reached for in describing William Archila’s poems, early Coltrane or perhaps Sonny Rollins or Mingus as analogues. For his dominant (though certainly not exclusive) themes are the almost unspeakably violent world of his Salvadoran childhood and the struggles of immigrant life in the United States, and yet spiraling up repeatedly in stunning riffs of word-song is the rare thing called duende, marvelous in itself but also in its evocations of beauty to be found in the life fully lived, the struggle never abandoned. The Gravedigger’s Archaeology is an aesthetic and moral triumph, and I felt honored to have read it.”―B.H. Fairchild, National Book Critics Circle Award winner

“In his brilliant second book, The Gravedigger’s Archaeology, poet William Archila excavates the cratered memory of war and its aftermath, his pen chiseling a language of ‘black roosters & fossil bones’ in a lost country, ‘a country rift in half.’ But Archila’s pen is also a spade, as poet Seamus Heaney suggested, and this spade unearths ‘the ribcage / still clinging to its shirt and bodies / dumped in a black lava bed’. This is clandestine territory for the lyric, but it is territory Archila traverses with consummate skill. I have been waiting many years for a book that would guide us through that time and place, exhuming the remains with grace and dignity. Archila has written it.”—Carolyn Forché


Red Hen Poets William Archila, THE GRAVEDIGGER’S ARCHAELOGY author, and T’ai Freedom Ford, author of HOW TO GET OVER, were selected as 2023 Jack Hazard Fellows!

Jack Hazard ‘23 Fellows are writers of fiction, creative nonfiction, or memoir. The $5,000 fellowship is awarded in support of an ongoing project. The goal is to reward and incentivize talented writers who teach in secondary schools. These Fellows are writers who teach, and serve as inspirations to their students, high schools, and communities, and […]

Poem Series by William Archila in the Los Angeles Review

William Archila’s The Gravedigger’s Archaeology won the Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize and his first collection The Art of Exile won an International Latino Book Award. He was featured in Spotlight on Hispanic Writers, Library of Congress. His poems have appeared in Poetry Magazine, Agni, Tin House, Prairie Schooner, American Poetry Review, Conjunctions, and The Missouri Review. He lives in Los Angeles, […]

William Archila featured in the Annulet Poetics Journal

“The Colonel” is a poem of witness because it focuses on the human rights violations in El Salvador, but most importantly because it has revealed the ways in which a tragic event such as a civil war can leave a mark upon the imagination. It also brought me consolation at a time when I felt […]

Allison Joseph and William Archila featured on LA Times Festival of Books Poetry Stage!

Please enjoy these readings on our first ever virtual poetry “stage” produced in partnership with Beyond Baroque Literary/Arts Center. Be sure to scroll through the entire page, as there are several readings from so many talented poets available to view including Yusef Komunyakaa, Pulitzer Prize and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award-Winner, local L.A. poets Sesshu Foster, William Archila and Yesika […]

THE GRAVEDIGGER’S ARCHEOLOGY poet, William Archila, featured in the LA Times!

At dozens of cafes, libraries and bookstores — even a garage in Bell — Southern California teemed with poetry readings and open mike nights before COVID-19 took hold of the world. Some of these events managed to survive by migrating online. Others we’ve lost for good. Now, as the vaccination rollout continues and an end to the […]

They Write By Night

This video by Poetry.LA features Red Hen author William Anchila’s newest poem!

Pasadena Now article on the PMCA 15th anniversary and RHP reading

Pasadena Now covered the Pasadena Museum of California Art 's 15th anniversary events, which included a poetry reading by Red Hen Press authors William Archila, Douglas Manuel and Lisa C. Krueger. http://www.pasadenanow.com/main/pasadena-museum-of-california-art-celebrates-15-years-as-cultural-hub/