University of Georgia faculty member Eric Morales-Franceschini has been awarded the 2020 Gloria E. Anzaldúa Poetry Prize. The Gloria E. Anzaldúa Poetry Prize is awarded annually, in conjunction with the Anzaldúa Literary Trust, to a poet whose work explores how place shapes identity, imagination, and understanding. Special attention is given to poems that exhibit multiple vectors of thinking: artistic, theoretical, and social, which is to say, political.
Gloria E. Anzaldúa was a queer Chicana poet, writer, and feminist theorist. Her poems and essays explore the anger and isolation of occupying the margins of culture and collective identity. She is well known for her book of prose and poetry, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, which draws on her experience as a Chicana/Tejana/lesbian/feminist activist—a revolutionary and inspirational work that continues to be so.
Born in Puerto Rico and raised in southern Florida, Morales-Franceschini is a former construction worker, US Army veteran, and community college graduate who went on to get an M.A. in cultural anthropology at Duke and a Ph.D. in rhetoric at UC, Berkeley. He works in the fields of decolonial aesthetics, liberation theology, Latinx literature, Cuban cinema, and the mythopoetics of history. Only recently, however, has he begun to write and publish poetry.
“This is an unfathomable honor. Anzaldúa is one of our most venerated foremothers,”said Morales-Franceschini, assistant professor of English and Latin and Caribbean Studies. “In her honor, the award money was donated to the Undocupoets Fund, which awards scholarships to LGTBQ+ undocumented poets, and to la Colectiva Feminista en Construcción, a women-led social justice organization based in my beloved Puerto Rico.”
Morales-Francechini’s chapbook titled Autopsy of Fallreckons with what imperial sovereignty has wrought in Puerto Rico and in the narrator’s diasporic consciousness. A debut collection, it conjures the many disgraces and beauties of what was and what could have been for the island and its people.
The chapbook was selected from over 300 submissions by guest judgeMarcelo Hernandez Castillo. Castillo is a poet, essayist, translator, and immigrants’ rights advocate. He is the author of Cenzontle, which was chosen by Brenda Shaughnessy as the winner of the 2017 A. Poulin, Jr. Prize published by BOA editions in 2018, as well as the winner of the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writer Award for poetry, the 2019 Golden Poppy Award from the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, and the Bronze in the FOREWORD INDIE best book of the year.
Autopsy of a Fall will be published by Newfound and available in Fall 2021.