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Poet, essayist & immigration advocate Castillo to speak at APSU’s Asanbe Diversity Symposium

Castillo headshot

            CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – In 2016, during an interview for the literary journal Ploughshares, award-winning poet and essayist Marcelo Hernandez Castillo said, “I wish I wasn’t afraid, I wish this wasn’t my reality.”

            When Castillo was five, his family moved from Mexico to California, and even though he now has permanent resident status, he told Ploughshares, “That doesn’t mean I’m not still afraid, either for myself or for my family.”

            In addition to being a rising literary star, Castillo is one of the nation’s leading immigration advocates, and at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 14, he’ll visit Austin Peay State University’s Trahern Theatre to deliver the keynote talk, “Undocumented and Unafraid,” at the 2018 Asanbe Diversity Symposium. At 2:30 p.m., he’ll also participate in a panel discussion, “Memory and Immigration in the Political Moment,” in the Trahern Theatre.

            The symposium, sponsored and organized by the APSU Department of Languages and Literature, was established 23 years ago in memory of Dr. Joseph Asanbe, the first professor of African and African-American literature at APSU. The event is co-sponsored by the Office of Academic Affairs, the African-American Studies Program, the International Studies Program, the Latin American Studies Program, the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, the Hispanic Cultural Center, the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts and Glover’s Lock Service.

            Years after his family moved to California, Castillo became the first undocumented student to graduate from the prestigious Helen Zell Writers Program at the University of Michigan. He is a founding member of the Undocupoets campaign, which successfully eliminated citizenship requirements from all major first poetry book prizes in the country. Through a literary partnership with Amazon Publishing, he helped establish The Undocupoet Fellowship, which provides funding to help curb the cost of submissions to journals and contests.

            A graduate of the Canto Mundo Latinx Poetry fellowship, Castillo has also received fellowships to attend the Vermont Studio Center and the Squaw Valley Writers Workshop. He is the author of “Cenzontle,” which won the 2017 A. Poulin, Jr. prize and will be published by BOA editions in 2018. His first chapbook, “DULCE,” earned the Drinking Gourd Poetry Prize and will be published by Northwestern University press in the fall of 2018. His memoir, “Children of the Land” is forthcoming from Harper Collins.

            The Asanbe Diversity Symposium is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the APSU Department of Languages and Literature at 221-7891.