Award-Winning PoetGAMBIER, Ohio (December 14, 2006) Assistant Professor of Spanish Victor Rodríguez-Núñez has won the 2006 Leonor Poetry Prize for his book-length poem Actas de medianoche/part II. The prize provides for publication of the book along with an award of 10,000 euros (more than $13,000). Part I of the poem won the Fray Luis de Leon Poetry Prize in 2005.
A jury of poets and editors in Soria, Spain, awarded the twenty-fifth annual Leonor prize to Rodríguez-Núñez's work, describing it as "a mélange of an unmistakable baroque style with the different irrationalist trends that distinguish modern Spanish American poetry."
Actas de medianoche I y II was written in Gambier between 2002 and 2005. It is a long poem (2156 lines) divided into two books. The main theme of the first part is "differentiation," the first step in the process of constructing an identity. The second half deals with "identification," without which no identity is complete. Its form is based on the Spanish sonnet, and for that reason it has 14 cantos, one for each verse of the sonnet. Each canto is made up of 11 free-verse sonnets.
"A poem is always a creation between two people, the writer and the reader," explains Rodríguez-Núñez. "I had faith that I, as a writer, had done my part well, but I didn't have the reader's opinion. Receiving these prizes has turned my faith to certainty. In addition, at a time when Spain looks to Europe more than to Spanish America, it is quite a feat, as a Cuban poet, to be recognized by Spanish colleagues."
A native of Cuba, in 2001 Rodríguez-Núñez came to Kenyon, where he teaches courses in Hispanic literature and culture as well as all levels of Spanish language. As a scholar, he has published anthologies, critical editions, and articles on Hispanic literatures, including a book on García Marquez's nonfiction works. Along with his academic endeavors, he was active as a cultural journalist in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Colombia, and served as an editor of both cultural magazines and specialized journals. He is also the author of several books of poetry, many of them recipients of literary awards, including the David Prize (Cuba), the Plural Prize (Mexico) and the Renacimiento Prize (Spain).