Letras Latinas & Red Hen Press
an origin story
In November of 2009, the Guadalajara Book Fair in Mexico designated Los Angeles the guest of honor—the first occasion this distinction was bestowed upon a city. A number of independent publishing houses from Southern California were invited to populate the Los Angeles pavilion, including Red Hen Press.
Concurrently, Francisco Aragón, director of Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, under the auspices of the National Endowment for the Arts, had been tapped to be a bilingual consultant at the pavilion.
That week the Los Angeles pabellón would become a plaza of connections—inducing the one made between Francisco, Mark, and Kate. By week’s end, meals had been shared, along with the occasional shot of tequila. When it was time to say goodbye, e-mail addresses were exchanged, along with promises to collaborate.
Months later, while Kate was dropping off galleys, Francisco made the trip from Washington, D.C. to New York to make a pitch. Over a Mexican dinner in Chelsea, he proposed the creation of the Letras Latinas / Red Hen Poetry Prize, an initiative to support a second or third book of poetry. Between 2013 and 2021, five titles were ushered into the world. Today, the partnership continues to thrive as a curated series and Editor’s Choice Award.
Current Letras Latinas titles include: