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Poetry in Motion

Monday, April 3, 2017
Jake Adam York Prize Winner

Creative writing alumna awarded inaugural prize for poetry collection

by Allyson Mackender '17

Just in time for National Poetry Month in April, Trinity alumna Analicia Sotelo ’08 has been awarded the inaugural Jake Adam York Prize for her first poetry collection, Virgin. After years of success in the field, Sotelo’s acknowledgement is yet another accomplishment to add to to her impressive resume. However, this award carries significant meaning to Sotelo as its namesake was “deeply influential to the poetry community,” Sotelo explained.

“Jake Adam York is a contemporary poet who passed in 2012,” Sotelo says. “The prize is meant to honor his legacy. I want people to remember the impact he had and read his work.”

Considering Sotelo’s community impact and knack for the written word, this award is certainly deserved. Today, she is the communications strategist for Writers in the Schools, a Houston-based nonprofit that sends creative writers into K-12 classrooms. Sotelo finds that the marketing field allows her to employ poetic skills such as concision and knowing your audience and gives her the opportunity to use her  writing for a good cause

When Sotelo, an English major from San Antonio, began her first year at Trinity, she primarily wrote short fiction, although she had practiced writing poetry during high school. After taking classes with English professors Andrew Porter and Jenny Browne, Sotelo was torn about which genre to pursue as she began considering an MFA. As an active member of the Latinx student community on campus, she had the unique opportunity to meet a local Latinx author who provided some guidance.

“I was writing in both genres, so I asked a Latinx author I admired, Manuel Muñoz, what to do,” Sotelo remembered, “He said, ‘Do the one that you need to do.’”

From this rather profound piece of advice, Sotelo’s success as a poet was catalyzed. Since receiving her Master’s of Fine Arts from the University of Houston in 2012, Sotelo’s poetry has been featured or is forthcoming in numerous renowned publications, including The New Yorker, The Kenyon Review, New England Review, Antioch Review, and Boston Review. While Sotelo’s talent is obviously a key factor in her success, she attributes many of her accomplishments to support from Trinity.

Sotelo named numerous professors from Trinity’s faculty, including Ruben Dupertuis, Arturo Madrid, Michael Soto, Claudia Stokes, Rita Urquijo-Ruiz, and Luis Murillo thanking them for their guidance. “They fully supported me,” Sotelo says. “I could go to them with the silliest college question and they were always an available resource.” In addition to using faculty and staff as resources, Sotelo provides more advice to current Trinity students interested in pursuing careers in creative fields.

“Take English and creative writing classes, but also take business classes and look for internships. It’s important to have the strong critical-thinking skill of a Trinity student, but it’s also important to have an open door, a place where someone can speak to your strengths.” Sotelo added, “Look past the myths of what a creative person should be. It’s part talent, but it’s also about work ethic; to be a writer, be undeterred, be persistent.”

Soon two of Sotelo’s “big dreams,” as she calls them, will come true. Her chapbook, Nonstop Godhead, will be published by the Poetry Society of America in May 2017, and her full-length collection, Virgin, will be published by Milkweed Editions in February 2018.

For more information on Sotelo, visit her author profile.

Writers in the Schools, located in Houston, is looking for summer interns. So, Houston-based Tigers, check out witshouston.org for this great opportunity!

Allyson Mackender is a senior English major from Denver, Colorado. She is the author of Trinity's Experiential Learning Blog and the editor of the Trinity Perspective. Allyson is a member of Sigma Theta Tau and Phi Sigma Pi.