International poetry festival honours Massey professor

Friday 10 May 2024

Professor Leonel Alvarado from the School of Humanities, Media and Creative Communication will be honoured at the upcoming eighth edition of the International Poetry Festival Los Confines.

The festival, which runs from 22 to 26 May, is the largest literary platform in Honduras and will feature 25 poets from Latin America, Europe and Asia.

Festival director and poet Salvador Madrid says Professor Alvarado was selected as the guest of honour due to his reputation as a sharp and profound voice in contemporary Central American poetry.

“His poetic merits are built on a powerful sensibility that sheds light on the human condition and reminds us of the need to recognise joy and beauty among so much pain and suffering around us.”

Since the publication of his first poetry collection in 1991, Professor Alvarado has published more than 10 books of poetry, fiction and criticism. He says he’s honoured and humbled by the distinction.

“It tends to be bestowed on poets that have reached a ‘venerable age’ – I have the feeling that the Festival organisers concluded that I have aged prematurely!”

The Festival will travel to the Mayan city of Copán, which is both Professor Alvarado’s hometown and a reoccurring theme in his writing.

“It will be very emotional to read my poetry surrounded by the same Mayan sculptures and monuments I’ve written about,” he says.

A retrospective of his literary career spanning 30 years is set to be published under the title Un lugar donde caerme vivo, which loosely translates to A Place Where I Can Drop Alive. Professor Alvarado plans to launch his anthology in Aotearoa New Zealand later in the year, aiming to unite people passionate about Latin American culture and anyone interested in learning Spanish.

Additionally, a revised second edition of his book on national anthems, El lirismo patriótico centroamericano: himnos, nacionalismo e identidad, will be released by the National Autonomous University of Honduras Press.

Watch Professor Alvarado reading his poem ‘This Animal Called Place’ from his book El futuro que no fuimos (The Future We Didn’t Become) here.

Left: Book cover for Un lugar donde caerme vivo. Right: Book cover for El lirismo patriótico centroamericano: himnos, nacionalismo e identidad.

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