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NY Public Library Spotlights Latino Writers for Nat’l Library Week

New York Public Library

FILE PHOTO: New York Public Library Tina Fineberg / AP

For the first time during National Library Week, the New York Public Library will specifically focus on Latino authors at their sixth annual Poetry of the Americas event Tuesday night.

Venezuelan writer and poet Ely Rosa Zamora curated the list of honorees and focused on Latin American, Caribbean and U.S.-born Hispanic authors. In honor of both National Library Week and National Poetry Month, Margarita Drago, Laura Lomas, Dinapiera Di Donato, Manuel Adrián López, José Luis Quesada, Rafael Courtoisie and Lila Zemborain read excerpts of their work.

"This event is unprecedented," Zamora said in an interview with NBC Latino. "It is Latino focused because there is a such a large community of Latino writers living in the U.S. whose first language is Spanish. A lot of these writers are widely published and very popular in South and Central America in general."

Zamora said she chose the honorees based on their success in Spain and Latin America. Several of the writers have lived in New York City at some time, and have even published Spanish-language poetry in Latin America about the NYC subway and 9/11.

Margarita Drago was a political prisoner before she immigrated to the U.S. In the 1980s she was exiled from Argentina after her imprisonment under the military dictatorship during the country's Dirty War. She has a memoir called "Memory Tracks," which details fragments of her experience in jail.

Cover of Lila Zemborain's collection, "Mauve Sea-Orchids."
Cover of Lila Zemborain's collection, "Mauve Sea-Orchids." Ely Rosa Zamora

Rafael Courtoisie received numerous national prizes for both his novels and poetry; in 1991, his first novel, "Dog's Life," received Uruguay's National Prize in Narrative Award.

Lila Zemborain, an Argentine poet, moved to New York and began publishing several collections of bilingual poetry in 1993. In 2007 she was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim fellowship.

"All the [writers] I have invited have been living here a decade or more, and I am interested in promoting what is happening in Hispanic writer communities," said Zamora. "I am interested in the poetry that is read in the Americas in general. There is an exchange that is happening between English and Spanish poetry in the Americas, and it is important for people to be aware of the writers living here sharing their cultures."

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