by Brian Dunlap
Yesterday it was announced that Cynthia Guardado, Los Angeles poet and author of the poetry collection Endeavor, won the prestigious Pellicer-Frost Poetry Prize. The prize, according to its website, is awarded to one “Mexican poet and to a United States poet” who has submitted a manuscript of 25 or more pages, and comes with $2,500 and publican of their poems in various literary magazine in both the US and Mexico.
As Guardado said in a Facebook post about winning the award, “I’m honored to have been selected” and “I have been working on these poems since 2009 and words cannot express how grateful I am that these poems about El Salvador have been recognized in such a beautiful way. The poems…also be translated into Spanish. I can’t wait to go to the borderlands to share these poems in El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico.”
Rigoberto Gonzalez, an editor and author of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and bilingual children’s books, judged the contest and said about Guardado’s manuscript, “Cenizas is a powerful book of poetic testimonies that bear witness to the atrocities of El Salvador, where ‘the ghosts of the dead are still learning how to die.’ This poet takes a searing and critical look at the sacrifices imposed on the Salvadorean people who become pawns and casualties of the country’s political upheavels, who are forced into exile, and who become trapped in the devastating limbo of the unfair immigration practices of the United States.
“The startling imagery is unpleasant but warranted, undisguised and unapologetic because explicitness—the cold naked truth—is this poet’s volition and emotion. The stories we don’t want to hear are the ones we need to listen to and this poet sifts through the rubble of history, indeed stirs its ashes, to awaken the voices of the dislocated and the murdered, the dispossessed and the disappeared, so that they may take their rightful place in our collective consciousness. Until the Salvadorean people have justice, Cenizas proclaims, the rest of us will have no peace.”
Unfortunately, as of now, Guardado’s manuscript Cenizas is unpublished.
Congratulations to L.A. poet Cynthia Guardado, and to her important work gaining a wider audience.