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National Poetry Month at Tulane Libraries Kicks Off with Cody Smith, Jericho Brown, and Elidio La Torre Lagares

Puerto Rican poet Elidio La Torre Lagares’ poetry collection Wonderful Wasteland and Other Natural Disasters has been selected by Tulane University Libraries to kick off April 2024 National Poetry Month, along with Louisiana poet Cody Smith and Pulitzer Award Winner Jericho Brown. Wonderful Wasteland and other natural disasters was published in 2019 as the New Voices in Poetry Series by the University Press of Kentucky. It was a finalist for the Juan Felipe Herrera Poetry Prize in 2020.


From the two other selections, Gulf: Poems by Cody Smith, is a coming to terms with the past. It evokes strikingly vivid memories of the author’s early childhood home, family, and culture amid the fragile beauty of Louisiana’s coastlines, in what could be called the northernmost point in the Caribbean. Born and raised near the swamplands of South Louisiana, author Cody Smith won the 2018 Mississippi Review Prize for his poem “Self Portrait as a Liminal Space”.


Jericho Brown is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2020 with The Tradition. Born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana, he is a poet, writer, and educator. In his transformative collection of poetry, he ponders on the complexities of human experience and Black identity, Brown combines several older poetic forms such as the ghazal, the sonnet, and the blues to create his unique musical structure called the duplex. Brown is a graduate of Dillard University (BA), and the University of New Orleans (MFA), and earned a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing from the University of Houston.


Elidio La Torre Lagares is a Puerto Rican writer and educator at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus, who won the Julia de Burgos National Poetry Award in 2008 for his whimsical study of flight, Ensayo del Vuelo (Flight Rehearsal). La Torre Lagares’s first book of poems written in English follows the author’s firsthand experiences witnessing the devasting impacts of Hurricane María on Puerto Rico. As La Torre Lagares processes the tragic loss of his family, friends, and homeland, his writings offer hope in the wake of disaster. Read this stirring look into a poet’s determination to console their community in the face of great adversity.



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