Drawing up a list of potential winners of the 2022 National Literature Prize can go through so many deserving names.
And to dare to publish it is to know that one enters incendiary territory both for the ego of the writers and for the risk of failing completely in the prediction. But that’s what life is all about… risk and adventure.
We have good writers, but it is not a question of making an inventory but a selection, knowing that there will be names left out that should be there.
To make a list without including Cándido Gerón, José Rafael Lantigua, Antonio Lockward Artiles, Pedro Conde Sturla, Manuel García Cartagena, Manuel Núñez and Chiqui Vicioso would be an injustice. But life, and the question of choice, is not always fair by definition.
On January 26th, the winner of the National Literature Award will be announced in the cozy Manuel Rueda hall of the Corripio Foundation by Don Pepín Corripio and Milagros Germán, Minister of Culture, in the presence of the rectors of the seven universities that make up the jury, plus the president of the Dominican Academy of Language, Don Bruno Rosario.
Our selection: (the order is not of preference) All of them seem to me to be deserving.
Soledad Alvarez is one of the essayists and poets with the strongest and most carefully structured work. She is not only an exquisite poet with such an extended trajectory as to be considered a figure established for years as of the first order.
Her work in research and essay writing, particularly in literature, forces us to look at her creative spaces, to which she adds a creative work that she unjustly conceives as cultural work of lesser incidence: editing. As an editor, she has been responsible for considerable publications on art and culture.
In 1980 she won the Siboney Essay Prize for her book La magna patria de Pedro Henríquez Ureña, later reedited by the Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra. He has edited the book De tierra morena vengo (1986) and Ponencias del Congreso Crítico de Literatura Dominicana (1994).
He has published two books of poems: Vuelo posible (1994) and Las estaciones íntimas (2006) with which he has secured a place in contemporary Dominican poetry.
Other works of his include: El Debate sobre las generaciones (Santo Domingo: Fundación Cultural Dominicana, 1991) and Complicidades (Santo Domingo: Fundación Cultural Dominicana / Taller, 1998).
Juan Carlos Mieses is an equally valuable writer whose work, elaborated without his author being seen as a dilettante in literary peñas (literary circles) or in cafeteria groups, is equally valuable. Alone and in peace, he has been occupied only with formation and creation. As a storyteller and poet, Juan Carlos has merits for this award and many others.
I do not know him personally, but it is enough for a good writer to have had hours and days of delight in reading. Juan Carlos studied Modern Languages at the University of Toulouse and after a long stay in France and other countries, he returned to the Dominican Republic where he has continued what he set out to do as a profession in his life: to be a writer.
He has achieved that purpose without a doubt. Linguist Ramón Constanza categorically affirms that Juan Carlos is the most cultured Dominican writer of today. His works, with greater value than disclosure, must speak for him. He has published Urbi et Orbi, poetry (Siboney Prize 1983); Flagellum Dei, poetry (Siboney Prize 1983); La Cruz y el Cetro, theater (1985); Aquí, el Edén, poetry (1998); Dulce et Decorum est…. ,Poetry (1997); Gaia, poetry (Pedro Henríquez Ureña Award 1991); Desde las Islas (Nicolás Guillen International Caribbean Poetry Award 2001); El Día de Todos, novel (Editorial Alfaguara 2008); Las Palomas de la Guerra, novel ( 2010); Oda al Nuevo Mundo, poetry ( 2011). “Apologia de las palabras y otras variaciones”, 2012 annual essay award.
Rhina Espaillat has unique characteristics: she is a literary creator in her mother tongue (even though she also has a part of her work in English) as a storyteller of consistency and style especially in her short stories. She is not only a translator, as she has sometimes been relegate, without underestimating this aspect of her work, which she does in the generous function of making known the work of Dominican writers. And attached to these conditions, she is the most prominent female literary figure of the diaspora. Never has an award been given to a creative personality located abroad.
His works Where Horizons Go (New Odyssey Press, 1998); winner of the 1998 TS Eliot Award; Absence of Essay (University of Evansville Press, 2001); winner of the 2001 Richard Wilbur Award; Mundo y Palabra/The World and the Word (Oyster River Press, 2001) (bilingual pamphlet); La sombra con la que me vestir (David Robert Books, 2004); winner of the 2003 Strofas Award; La hora del cuentacuentos (Scienter Press, 2004); Jugando en la quietud (Truman State University Press, 2005); El Olor de la Memoria (Ediciones CEDIBIL. Dom. Rep. 2007); Your Place in These Designs ( Truman State University Press, 2008); Water of Two Rivers/Water of Two Rivers (Obsidian Press, 2017); And After All (Abel Muse Press, 2018); The Field ( David Robert Books, 2019); Brief Accident of Light: Poems from Newburyport . Collaboration with poet Alfred Nicol (Kelsay Books, 2019).
He won the Oberon Award (2002 and 2003) and the Sparrow Sonnet, in addition to three other awards from the Poetry Society of America and from the New England Poetry Club he has received the Derovanessian Award (2017) for translation, the Barbara Bradley Award and the May Sarton Award. He has also won, twice, the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Prize (1998 and 2003) from The Formalist magazine.
In 2008 he received a Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award from Salem State College. She also received the Tree at My Window Award from the Robert Frost Foundation for her Spanish translations of Robert Frost’s works (2001).
In her native country she has been awarded the Salomé Ureña de Henríquez Award for service to culture and education (2001) and was recognized at the Tenth International Book Fair in Santo Domingo (2007).
Efraím Castillo is another writer of work to be consecrated both in narrative and drama with a remarkable extension in quantity and quality of titles. He is the only playwright among those mentioned.
Only two playwrights have been awarded previously: Manuel Rueda and Franklin Domínguez. As a playwright he won with Los lectores del ático, in 1993, Premio Casa de Teatro, 1990, and with Los inventores del monstruo, Premio Nacional de Teatro, in 2004. He made literary history with his works Consígueme La náusea, Matilde and with Inti Huamán or Eva again.
He has won the National Novel Prize on two occasions: with Currículum (El síndrome de la visa) and with El personero. For writing Los ecos tardíos, he won the National Short Story Award /2001.
He has also written Adán, Eva y los moluscos (Theater). He is one of our most solid intellectuals, a brilliant playwright and talented novelist, and a review of one of his novels Curriculum (El síndrome de la visa) and has also written, based on his profession, the essays Publicidad Imperfecta and Sobre Publicidad Dominicana/1979 (On Dominican Advertising/1979).
José Enrique García. Silent and hardworking, his profession is very focused on letters, which he cultivates thanks to a solid and global academic formation. A writer by the very passion of writing, he is gifted with the ability to occupy a university podium to talk about literature or a guano chair in a country ranchón convened by a rural literary group. Essayist, literary critic, narrator and poet, he has won the Siboney Poetry Prize with the collection of poems El fabulador/1979; the National Poetry Prize /2001 and the National Children’s Literature Prize/ 2002.
He began publishing in 1977, when he presented the book of short stories Meditaciones alrededor de una sospecha, Santiago, Editora del Norte, followed by El fabulador, Santo Domingo, Editora Taller, 1980, Ritual del tiempo y los espacios, Santo Domingo, Editora Santo Domingo, 1982, En el camino y la casa, Santo Domingo, Editora Santo Domingo, 1985 and Contando lo que pasa, Santo Domingo, Editora Santo Domingo, 1986.
Other titles: Cuando la miraba pasar, 1987, Escribir: ejercicios ortográficos y prácticas de redacción, Santo Domingo, Editorial Gente, 1994. Huellas de la memoria, Santo Domingo, Editorial Gente, 1994, Una vez un hombre, Santo Domingo, Editorial Gente, 2000, Recodo, Editora Alfaguara, 2001, Un pueblo llamado pan y otros cuentos infantiles, 2002, La palabra en su asiento. Análisis poético, Santo Domingo, Banco Central de la República Dominicana, 2004, Juego de villanos, 2006, El futuro sonriendo nos espera, (Dominican poetic selection), Alfaguara, 2007.
García was winner of the Annual Poetry Prize 1999 for his poetry book “Recodo” and in children’s literature he has published for loqueleo publishing house: El otro bobo and El Barco de la Luz, winning in 2001 the Annual Prize of Children’s Literature with “Enriquito y Serafín”.
Odalís G. Pérez. A disciplined writer, with a strong character, untraceable in superficial environments and literary gossip, selective to the extreme with his friendships, is this creator and educator, philologist, poet, essayist, playwright, art critic, researcher and lecturer. He studied philology and Semiotics at the University of Bucharest (Romania), after studying at the Faculty of Humanities of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD), where he obtained a degree in Philosophy and Letters.
Scrupulous care of each written letter, Odalis, for the extension, style and aspects of his work, would honor the National Prize of Literature: As an essayist he hasLas ideas literarias en la República Dominicana (1993),Semiótica de la prensa(1999),La ideología rota(2002),Nacionalismo y cultura en República Dominicana(2003), La identidad negada(2003),República Dominicana, el mito político de las palabras(2004),Principios de Estética y Educación Artística(2005),Literatura dominicana y memoria cultural: Ritmos y tiempos de la alteridad(2005),El espacio de los signos(2005),Sócrates Barinas Coiscou.
El tiempo de la memoria y la poesía(2007), Víctor Villegas: la voz, la memoria, los tiempos del lenguaje(2008),Arte, identidad y cultura en República Dominicana (2009),Pedro Henríquez Ureña. Historia cultural, historiografía y crítica literaria (2010), Joaquín Balaguer. La filología, la historia, el pensamiento (2010), Max Henríquez Ureña, Las rutas de una vida intelectual (2011), La miseria de la razón política (2012) and El discurso poético dominicano (2013).
As a poet: Habitácula (1987, Casa de Teatro Poetry Prize), La pirámide en el hombro de Dios (1988),Papeles del eterno(1999),Duarte melancólico (2013),Tímpano terrestre (2012), Perro no come perro (2014),Especie en movimiento (2015) and Planetario (2017).
César Sánchez Beras. A name that has never occurred to anyone is that of this Dominican poet, playwright, decimer, and writer of adult and children’s literature, belonging to the generation of the 90s, and who began his career by establishing his own poetic seal.
With a diversified and high-flying literary talent, and for his extensive and varied literary career, Sánchez Beras is an essential Dominican poet of his generation and a storyteller for adult and children’s audiences who has experienced a development and diversification in genres, which impresses.
His work: Memorias del Retorno, 1992 – Comenzó a Llenarse de Pájaros el Sueño, 1999 – Trovas del Mar, 2002 – Sapito Azul, 2004) (children’s poetry) – Días de Carne 2004) – Sapito Azul/ The Little Blue Frog, 2007 – Lawrence City and Other Poems 2007 – Las Aventuras de Pez Sabueso y Don Delfín, 2008 (Children’s Poetry) – Carnival Surprise, 2008 (Children’s Theater) – The Hangover and the Dust, 2010 – Eclipse of the Sea, 2011 – The Cemi and the Fire, 2011 (Children’s Narrative) – Three Bards and a Passion, 2013 – Todos al Tribunal, 2013 (Children’s Theater) – De la A a la Z, Dominican Republic, 2013 (Children’s Poetry) – River Muse- Tales of Lowell and Merrimack, 2013 – Songs From the Castle’s Remains – Anthology, 2013 – Érase una vez la patria, 2014 (Children’s Theater) – Sapito Azul y el Misterio Sonoro, 2014 (Children’s Poetry) – Cicatriz en el viento, 2014 – Mi niña me pide un cuento, 2013 (Children’s Poetry) – El sueño de un gran marinero, 2014 (Children’s Narrative). His work has received: First place National Contest of Decimas, 1990 – First place National Contest of Decimas (Cedee) Rep. Dom. , 1991 – Second place Concurso Nacional de Décimas Juan A. Alix, 1992 – Annual Poetry Award (DR) 2004 – Annual Children’s Literature Award (DR) 2004 – Cambridge College Poet Laureate (2004) – National Children’s Literature Award, Renovación Cultural Society, Puerto Plata, 2013 – Children’s Literature Award, Letras de Ultramar, 2013 – Poetry Award Universidad Central del Este, 2014 – Manuscript Award from the Commissioner of Culture, 2014. She has published four bilingual texts “Trovas del Mar/Trove of the Sea” (2002), “El Sapito Azul/The Little Blue Frog” (2004), “Lawrence City and Other Poems” and “Cicatriz sobre un cuerpo en el viento”.
In recognition of his literary career and the contribution that his lyrical work has been making to the cultural heritage of the city of Lawrence, he was distinguished with the title of “Poet Laureate” by Cambridge College, Massachusetts, USA.
As can be perceived, the literary talent of these six prospects is of high quality and with an ample record of titles and awards, nothing happens if this prediction is right or wrong in its totality. The decision that prevails must be made by those who have the power to choose, an institutional, unquestionable and unappealable jury.
The only certainty is that it is necessary to comply with the provisions of Decree 383-16, which establishes modifications to the previous provision, number 423-89, which created the National Literature Award, an award that every year is jointly organized and delivered by the Ministry of Culture and the Corripio Foundation Inc.