Ivonne Gordon-Vailakis, professor of Spanish and Latin American literature

An internationally recognized poet shares her work with audiences around the globe.

In March 2016, Spanish and Latin American Literature Professor Ivonne Gordon-Vailakis was invited to participate in Paralelo 0, an international festival in Ecuador featuring a slate of distinguished poets.

Poetry, she says, can be “a little bit like theater or opera, a little bit elitist.” One of the goals of the international festival was to make it more accessible to all.

Gordon-Vailakis and her fellow poets gave multiple, daily poetry readings before large crowds, including one staged next to the Middle of the World monument, which marks the equator’s line through Ecuador. After reading a poem about the exploitation of mines in the area, she received personal thanks from an audience member.

“I experienced how what I do is so real and valuable, and I was excited to come back and tell my students,” she says.

She has also been invited to participate in the International Poetry Festival of Granada in Managua, Nicaragua, the largest literary festival in Central America. Her honors include the Jorge Carrera Andrade Poetry Award in Ecuador and her book, Diosas prestadas (Borrowed Goddesses), based on Greek mythology, was one of 12 finalists for the First International Prize Francisco de Aldana Poetry in Spanish Language.

At Redlands, she has taught poetry for more than 20 years, and the University’s May term for five years. Her unique May Term class combines workshops with poetry reading and analysis.

“The students get to experience what it is like to have a living author as their professor,” she says. “My students know I am passionate about poetry, and they learn that I also create it and share it, not only with them but also with people in different parts of the world.”

A native of Quito, Ecuador, Gordon-Vailakis has published five books of poetry and has three forthcoming.