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NMSU English professor receives Howard Fellowship, Juniper Prize for poetry

New Mexico State University assistant professor Carmen Gimenez Smith is becoming well-known in the creative writing world, with two awards this year for both her poetry and creative non-fiction works.



New Mexico State University Assistant Professor of English Carmen Gimenez Smith is the winner of the University of Massachusetts Press 2011 Juniper Prize for Poetry, and is the recipient of the George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Fellowship. (Courtesy photo)

Gimenez Smith is the winner of the University of Massachusetts Press 2011 Juniper Prize for Poetry for her collection titled "Goodbye, Flicker," which will be published in 2012, and is the recipient of the George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Fellowship for "Squander: A Collection of Essays."

"It was such a surprise to hear about the fellowship, and then I heard about the book about a week later, so I was on cloud nine for a few days because I've been working on both of these projects for some time, and I was eager to move forward with them," Gimenez Smith said. "The news about the fellowship was a nice jolt for me to get back to the book project, which I've been working on this summer."

The Juniper Prize for Poetry is awarded annually for an original manuscript of poems. The University of Massachusetts Press publishes the winning manuscript and the author receives a $1,500 award upon publication.

"I've been working on 'Goodbye, Flicker' for nearly 10 years," Gimenez Smith said. "I have tried, over the years, lots of different strategies for making the book work, but last year, I had some new ideas and new poems for the book, so I went back to it and completed a draft of it fairly quickly. I sent it out to about half a dozen contests and didn't think too much about it, so I was thrilled to hear from University of Massachusetts Press. I'm really excited that this book that I've been thinking about for so long will be in the world."

Gimenez Smith was one of 13 recipients of the Howard Foundation Fellowship for the 2011-2012 academic year.

"The fellowship is making it possible for me to dedicate more of my time to writing," Gimenez Smith said. "Over the past two years, I've done tons of research into decision theory and written about half of four long essays for the book and had notes for the other two, so I thought I would apply for the fellowship. When I heard the news I couldn't believe it, especially after I saw who the other writers were, really well-regarded writers of nonfiction."

Gimenez Smith is the editor-in-chief of NMSU's literary journal Puerto del Sol and a publisher of Noemi Press, which publishes poetry and fiction. She is the author of two previous collections of poetry, "Odalisque in Pieces" (University of Arizona Press, 2009) and "The City She Was" (Center for Literary Publishing, 2011), and a memoir, "Bring Down the Little Birds" (University of Arizona Press, 2010). In 2010, Gimenez Smith was one of eight Latino poets in the U.S. selected to participate in "Ocho Poetas," a collaboration to advance the cause of Latino publishing.