Writing, Literature and Publishing Professor Pablo Medina has been named a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow in poetry by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
Medina is a poet, novelist, translator, and essayist who has written or translated 13 books, including 6 original poetry collections. Medina will use the Guggenheim funding to focus on writing a new collection of poems he plans to call The Early Cuban Kingdom.
The Guggenheim Foundation, founded in 1925 by Olga and Simon Guggenheim, aims to “add to the educational, literary, artistic, and scientific power of this country, and also to provide for the cause of better international understanding.” This year, the foundation granted fellowships to 181 scholars, artists, and scientists in the United States and Canada. The Fellows were chosen based on both prior achievement and promise for future excellence from a pool of almost 3,000 applicants.
Medina grew up in Havana, Cuba, and moved to New York City at the age of 12. In the upcoming poetry collection, he will write about the experience of living in those two cities and how it shaped him. “Since these two cities are so crucial and so basic to who I am and what I write about, I thought I would build a project around them,” he explained.
The best part about the Guggenheim grant, Medina said, is that it will provide him time to work on his new poetry collection and the means to do the kind of research he feels the project deserves, which will involve traveling to Havana, Cuba, and Madrid, Spain. In Madrid, Medina will study the medieval Spanish poetry form called mwassaha. He plans to write his poems for the collection in the mwassaha style.
Medina writes in both English and Spanish. The Early Cuban Kingdom will be written primarily in English with the integration of Spanish phrases or words. He hopes the notes of Spanish will create a tonality that enhances the poems. “Writing poetry is difficult enough. But in this case, I’ve added that particular touch. If I can pull it off, I think I will have accomplished something special,” he said.
At Emerson, Medina teaches undergraduate and graduate poetry and fiction classes as well as a graduate translation seminar.