Contributor Spotlight on Ron Villanueva

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Divination, transfiguration, haunted graveyards, traps, and blessings…R.A. Villanueva (or Ron, if you know him like we do) is not, as far as we know, a boy wizard. But his debut has a bit of magic in it—evoking the liminal spaces of myth and faith that reverberate with an ever-evolving identity and sense of self. Villanueva, the winner of last year’s Prairie Schooner Book Prize for his collection Reliquaria, published by the University of Nebraska Press this September, has made a number of recent appearances, both online and in Brooklyn, giving interviews and doing readings. His charming enthusiasm for talking anything literary is a solid recommendation for the strength of his deft and haunting work.

Verse Daily recently featured Villanueva’s poem “Swarm,” excerpted below:

We were well down the ventral axis
          when Father Luke noticed. Our cuts
steady through the skin, our scalpels
          already through the thin give
of the sternum. With each bullfrog
          pinned to its block and double-
pithed by nail, he had by then
          talked us clean through the lungs,
past a three-chambered heart couched
          in tissue and vascular dye.

Read the rest of the poem here.

Villanueva has recently done interviews at Critical Mass, the blog of the National Book Critics Circle Award Board of Directors, as well as at Brooklyn Poets. In September, Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop hosted a reading that featured Villanueva along with Ishion Hutchinson, Anne Carson, and Robert Currie. Watch it here.

In addition to being a poet and teacher, Villanueva is also a founding editor of Tongue: A Journal of Writing & Art, which features new poetry, translations, and images. You can view the second issue and find out more here.

We can’t recommend his award-winning book enough (we picked it for the award, after all), and it’s available from the University of Nebraska Press. For more about Villanueva himself, check out his website, which includes an up-to-date list of interviews, readings, publications, and more, or keep up with him on Twitter @caesura, where he says things like “Macbeth's Inverness is only just north of Loch Ness with its dark, deep murk and its monster” and “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.”

Are you a Prairie Schooner contributor? Contact to let us know about your recent successes and events, and we’ll share your good news in a future “Contributor Spotlight” post!