The University of New Mexico and Rutgers University are partnering in "The Latino Literary Imagination: East Coast/South West Dialogue on Narrative Voices and the Spoken Word," a conference that brings together prominent scholars and artists at both campuses to hold a series of cross-cultural and cross regional dialogs to shed light on and advance Latina/o literary traditions in the United States.

The Rutgers program is slated for Thursday and Friday, April 7-8; the UNM program is set for Friday and Saturday, April 15-16 at UNM and the National Hispanic Cultural Center. People can watch the Rutgers programming through live video-streaming on Thursday, April 7, at Continuing Education, Room G noon - 3 p.m.; and on Friday, April 8, at Woodward 149, Extended University Classroom, 7 a.m. - 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. - 2:15 p.m.

Before things gear up for the weekend, Miguel Algarín delivers the keynote address Thursday, April 14 from 8 – 9:30 p.m. in George Pearl Hall auditorium, located at Central and Stanford NE. Algarín is one of the co-founders of the nonprofit Nuyorican Poets Cafe and is professor emeritus at Rutgers University. He is the author of more than 10 books of poetry, the editor of several anthologies, and an accomplished writer for television and theater. Survival Supervivencia (2009), his most recent work, is a memoir spanning his entire corpus of work over the last 35 years.

Algarín received three American Book Awards and the Larry Leon Hamlin Producer's Award. Since its founding in the 1970s, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe has become widely recognized as a forum for the arts, receiving various honors, including an Obie grant, and serving as a stepping stone for many budding artists.

The conference explores the spectrum of U.S. Latina/o literary creativity and activism from the latter half of the 20th century through the first decade of the 21st. Prominent writers and emerging important literary voices representing a wide range of literary modes, including poetry, novels, plays, film, new media and multi-disciplinary work will present their work through panels, roundtables, readings and performances.

Numerous panel discussions fill out the conference schedule at UNM on Friday, April 15, including a discussion about whether or not landscape – natural or built, rural or urban, real or imagined – influences identity or nationalism. Another panel looks at archetypes and stereotypes in literature, while another explores visual cultures and visual imaginaries.

A key happening of the event is the Flor y Canto, set for Friday evening from 8-9:30 p.m. at the NHCC's Bank of America Auditorium.

Panels pick up again on Saturday morning at the National Hispanic Cultural Center with a focus on children's literature as a medium for conserving culture, language and identity. Then, a tertulia, a kind of artistic gathering, focused on memoirs and oral histories is set. Pláticas – poetry and the spoken word – are set. One features invited poets and scholars to talk about their work; the other focuses on dramatic writing and is a conversation between playwright, critic and scholar during which they will focus on the creation, performance and study of the plática. The final plática and conference panel is a roundtable discussion, "Borders, Frontiers, and & In-Between Spaces: Geography, Metaphor, & Transgression.

The conference also features Stories to Rudy: Tribute to Rudolfo Anaya on Saturday, April 16 from 4-6 p.m. in the Journal Theatre at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

Anaya has received numerous awards, including the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities' Excellence in the Humanities in 1995, the Mexican Medal of Friendship in 1986, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Fellowship in 1983, the Award for Achievement in Chicano Literature of the Hispanic Caucus of the National Conference of Teachers of English in 1983, and honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from the University of Albuquerque in 1981, and the Governor's Award for Literature in 1980.

The Latino Literary Imagination Conference is a collaborative initiative of Rutgers and University of New Mexico faculty organized by the Rutgers Office of the Associate VP for Academic and Public Partnerships, the Office of the Provost at the University of New Mexico, Rutgers Center for Latino Arts and Culture, the National Hispanic Cultural Center and the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.

Four concurrent exhibitions featured for the Latino Literary Imagination Conference are "Latino/a Visual Imaginary: Intersection of Word & Image," 516 Arts, February 19 – May 14.

"Illustrated Identities: the Book in the Latino Imaginary," UNM Zimmerman Library, Herzstein Latin American Reading Room Gallery, March 5 – May 5.

"Text and Subtext: Latino Artists at Tamarind," Tamarind Institute of Lithography, April 15 – June 30.

"Framing the Imaginary: Responding to Works from the NHCC," National Hispanic Cultural Center Museum, April 16 – June 19. Hear a podcast with the student curators.

Support for the conference is provided in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

UNM sponsors include the Regents Endowment-Speaker Series, the College of Fine Arts and the College of Arts and Sciences' Departments of Spanish and Portuguese, English and American Studies; and University Libraries.

Other sponsors are the National Hispanic Cultural Center, 516 Arts and Rutgers - Center for Latino Arts and Culture (CLAC).

The conference is dedicated to the memory of Hector Torres, UNM professor of English who was murdered last year.

Media contact: Carolyn Gonzales, 277-5920; e-mail: