UTSA associate professor Carmen Tafolla named Texas State Poet Laureate 2015-16
(May 7, 2015) -- Internationally acclaimed writer Carmen Tafolla has been named the 2015 Texas State Poet Laureate by the 84th Texas Legislature. Tafolla, an associate professor of practice with the UTSA College of Education and Human Development's (COEHD) Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies, was officially invested as poet laureate at a special resolution ceremony for the induction of all Texas State Artists at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on May 7.
Each year since 1932, a committee appointed by the Texas Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House appoints a Texas citizen as state poet laureate in recognition of their outstanding and significant contributions to the art of poetry for a one-year appointment. Tafolla joins the ranks of Pulitzer Prize finalists and legendary Texas poets in representing the state's poetic merits.
"Whenever we receive an honor or professional opportunity, we also receive a responsibility to turn that creative energy into a positive recharging of the community," said Tafolla. "The honor of this appointment is a mass of positive energy that only increases in power and benefit if it is redirected back toward the community and redistributed to those who follow us on the path. I accept the honor not for me – but for what it can do for others."
Tafolla is the author of more than twenty acclaimed poetry and prose books, including "Curandera," "Sonnets and Salsa," and "The Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans," which won the Tomás Rivera Children's Book Award in 2009. She has published works for both children and adult readers in more than 200 anthologies, magazines, journals, textbooks and readers. Her works have been published in English, German, French and Bengali.
Twice honored by the U.S. Library of Congress, Tafolla is a San Antonio native who was born in the city's West Side in 1951. Given a four-year scholarship to a private high school, she realized that neither her community nor her neighbors were positively portrayed in literature. Since then, she has dedicated her writing efforts on reflecting the rich Mexican-American culture of San Antonio with which she grew up.
Tafolla has been a part of the UTSA faculty for many years. Prior to serving as an associate professor of practice with the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies, she served as a UTSA writer-in-residence for COEHD.
"Carmen Tafolla is one of San Antonio's most precious literary resources," said Betty Merchant, Dean of the College of Education and Human Development. "She is unparalleled in her ability to powerfully and exquisitely illustrate the beauty and richness of the people, culture, and traditions that are so important in defining our city. Her many published works and professional accomplishments are powerful inspirations to so many people, both here at UTSA and across the world. We are very proud of her accomplishment."
Tafolla is the recipient of the Américas Award, two Tomás Rivera awards, the Charlotte Zolotow Award for Best Children's Picture Book, five International Latino Book Awards and the Art of Peace Award, given for writing which furthers peace, justice and human understanding. From 2012 to 2014, Tafolla served as San Antonio's first-ever Poet Laureate, appointed by former mayor Julián Castro to promote literacy and the literary arts in San Antonio.
Tafolla received her doctoral degree in bilingual education from the University of Texas in Austin.