Visiting writers series brings award-winning poet

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The first ever Latino recipient of the Yale Younger Poets Prize, Eduardo C. Corral, came to the Southern Miss campus on Oct. 3 to read from his award-winning debut collection “Slow Lightning.”

Corral is heavily decorated and recognized with a lengthy list of prominent awards within the literary community. He is most noted for his ability to blend the English and Spanish language effortlessly,  delicate handling of history and alert examination of sexuality. Corral, who identifies as gay, has become a proud voice to be heard inside and outside of the literary world.

Corral described his introduction into poetry as an “accidental discovery,” saying his professor recognized his potential.

“He saw something I did not see. He said, ‘I want you to write more poems for me and start reading poetry,’” Corral said.

Notable poets like Derrick Walcott and Elizabeth Bishop were suggested for him to read. “That’s where I fell in love writing from reading those poets. Their language stunned me,” Corral said.

Head of the English Department, Luis Iglesias, Ph. D, gave Corral a warm welcome to the university when he arrived.

“Eduardo Corral is the first Latino recipient of the very prestigious Yale Younger Poet Prize whose list of recipients reads like a who’s who of the most distinguished poets of the last 40 years,” Iglesias said.  

Iglesias then brought to the stage Adam Clay, an assistant professor of English who specializes in creative writing and poetry.

“Eduardo is a wonderful literary citizen. If you follow him on Twitter or Facebook, you’ll see him tweeting amazing things and supporting young writers and doing great things for our community.” Clay said.

Corral began with readings from his debut collection and then gave the audience a preview of his next collection. Corral’s second book comes out in 2020 with Greywolf Press. The tentative title of his second collection is currently selected as “Guillotine.”

The floor was then opened for a Q&A session, including a question about the nine-and-a-half-year process of preparing his collection.

“It wasn’t about knowing when it was ready but accumulating enough pages I was happy with,” Corral said in response. “I must have written enough poems for two manuscripts, but I kept jettisoning ones that I knew were not as strong as the other poems.”

Several questions followed which Corral aptly reporting back in-depth answers which showed his proficiency and ability to convey information effectively. His answers garnered nods of the head from an audience that unanimously agreed with his enlightening replies.

Corral commented that what started as an audience of one has grown into a distinguished literary career. Corral currently teaches in the Master of Fine Arts program at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, and is currently a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University.

The Visiting Writer Series will wrap-up for the semester on Nov. 15 with poet, essayist and cultural critic from Columbia, Ohio, Hanif Abdurraquib. The event will be free to attend and will be located on Southern Miss’ campus in International Center 101.