Internationally recognized poet Ivonne Gordon Vailakis, professor of Spanish and Latin American literature and chair of the modern literatures and languages department at the University of Redlands, is one of 12 finalists for the First International Prize Francisco de Aldana Poetry in Spanish Language.
An international jury chose the finalists from 160 submissions. Gordon Vailakis submitted the sole entry from the United States, competing against entries from Spain, Latin America, Israel, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, England, France and Canada.
Her submission is a Spanish-language book, “Diosas prestadas” (Borrowed Goddesses) that is based on Greek mythology, “with my own twist,” she says. If selected—the winner will be announced May 21, 2016 in Naples—the book will be published by Legatoria Artigiana Napoli, a prestigious publishing house in Italy.
Gordon-Vailakis has also been invited to participate in the International Poetry Festival of Granada in Managua, Nicaragua, the largest literary festival in Central America, where she will share her poetry with a variety of audiences.
“I feel strongly in the value of pursuing your passion,” Gordon Vailakis says. “Poetry is my passion; therefore, for me, being recognized is a feeling of satisfaction because poetry enriches human beings, it discovers unknown territories that I did not know I had.”
Gordon Vailakis has taught poetry at the University for more than 20 years, and the University’s May term for five years. The unique class combines workshop, reading and analyzing poetry.
“The students get to experience what it is like to have a living author as their professor,” she says. “As our President said in his address to the University, ‘it is important to improve the quality of our humanity.’ I think I strive for that in every class. My students know I am passionate about poetry, and they learn that I don’t only have passion for the subject matter, but I create it and share it, not only with them but with people in different parts of the world.”
Gordon Vailakis, a native of Quito, Ecuador, has a Ph.D. in Latin American literature from University of California, Irvine. She has published five books of poetry and has three forthcoming. Throughout her career, Gordon Vailakis has traveled the world to read her poetry, including two occasions at The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. She is a Fulbright Scholar Award recipient and was honored with the Jorge Carrera Andrade Poetry Award in Ecuador.