Tino Villanueva- From his humble beginnings in Texas as the son of migrant workers, "Tino Villanueva emerged as an important voice of Chicano expression in the early 1970s," wrote Dictionary of Literary Biography contributor Julian Olivares. "The poetic voice for him is an existential affirmation of being by which one achieves salvation from silence, chaos, and annihilation."
Growing up in an atmosphere of poverty and prejudice, Villanueva graduated from high school but failed his college entrance exam. Devoted to self-improvement, the young man took jobs and read extensively. Drafted into the U.S. Army in 1963, Villanueva spent two years in the Panama Canal Zone. This brought him a new understanding of his Hispanic heritage; he began reading the works of poets like Ruben Dario and José Martí.
Returning home, Villanueva enrolled at Southwest Texas University, where he produced his first poem--a sonnet--in a class for native Spanish-speakers. The poem, "Camino y Capricho eterno," was published in a local newspaper in 1968. Villanueva earned a bachelor of arts degree that same year, and moved his studies to Buffalo, New York. "Living away from the Southwest permitted him to take stock of himself and to take into account the injustices perpetrated upon him and his people," reported Olivares. Villanueva embraced the Chicano Movement, and produced the poetry collection Hay Otra Voz. "Appearing in 1972 when there were very few journals that gave space to U.S. Hispanic literary expression," Olivares continued, "Hay Otra Voz was received without any reviews." But with subsequent publications of Villanueva's poetry in journals in the U.S. and abroad, the poet began to gain more recognition.
In 1984 Villanueva began publishing Imagine: International Chicano Poetry Journal, dedicated to poetry of any language, accompanied by English translation. That same year he published Shaking off the Dark, a well-received collection that a World Literature Today critic called "a journey into the semiotic concept of biculturalism." Olivares pointed to one of the poems in the collection, "Now, Suns Later," a tribute to the poet's grandmother, as "[interweaving] light imagery emanating from two sources, the sun and the grandmother."
Villanueva's anthology, Crónica de mis años peores, acknowledges the continuing struggles faced by Hispanic Americans. But the book is "a work of triumph and of overcoming," declared reviewer Susan Smith Nash in World Literature Today. Nash concluded, "individuals are able, by sheer force of will, to overcome the effects of shaming and physical and emotional abuse is tantamount to miraculous." To a Publishers Weekly contributor, the poet's tone is "complex and hard to characterize, more on the order of wistful disappointment . . . than anything like self-pity."
In the movie Giant, a pivotal moment takes place in a Texas roadside diner, where an Anglo customer, trying to prevent the eviction of a Hispanic man by the owner, is himself severely beaten. The Anglo "to a certain extent represents the social conscience of America," remarked Tom Lewis in a World Literature Today review of the collection Scene from the Movie Giant. Villanueva turns the scene into a five-part poem, which begins with the poet at age fourteen seeing Giant for the first time. Whereas the diner scene carries much symbolic weight, Lewis added, "Villanueva's poem quietly and richly extends the movie by revealing how a lone member of its audience derived from the complex emotions it aroused in him a sense of selfhood and creativity."
Family: Born December 11, 1941, in San Marcos, TX; son of Lino B. and Leonor (Rios) Villanueva. Education: Southwest Texas State University, B.A., 1969; State University of New York at Buffalo, M.A., 1971; Boston University, Ph.D., 1981. Memberships: American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese. Addresses: Office: Department of Spanish, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA 02181. Agent: Odon Betanzos, 125 Queen St., Staten Island, NY 10314.
Ford Foundation fellowship, 1978-79; American Book Award, Before Columbus Foundation, 1994, for Scene from the Movie Giant.
State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, instructor in Spanish, 1969-71; Boston University, Boston, MA, lecturer in Spanish, 1971-76; Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA, instructor in Spanish, 1974--. Locutor and program director for La hora Hispaña, broadcast for the Spanish-speaking community by Harvard University radio station WHRB. Military service: U.S. Army, 1964-66.
WRITINGS BY THE AUTHOR:
Hay Otra Voz: Poems (title means "There Is Another Voice: Poems"), Editorial Mensaje (New York, NY), 1972, 3rd edition, 1979.
(With others) Literatura Chicana: texto y contexto (title means "Chicano Literature: Text and Context"), Prentice-Hall (New York, NY), 1973.
Chicanos: Antologia de ensayos y literatura (title means "Chicanos: Anthology of Essays and Literature"), Fondo de Cultura Economica (Visión de Ningun Lugar, México), 1979.
Shaking off the Dark, Arté Publico Press (Houston, TX), 1984, revised edition, Bilingual Press (Tempe, AZ), 1998.
Crónica de mis años peores, Lalo (Los Angeles, CA), 1987, translation by James Hoggard published as Chronicle of My Worst Years, TriQuarterly Books (Evanston, IL), 1994.
Tres Poetas de Posguerra: Celaya, Gonzalez y Caballero Bonald: (Estudio y Entrevistas), Tamesis Books (London, England), 1988.
Scene from the Movie Giant, Curbstone Press (Willimantic, CT), 1993.
La llaman America, Curbstone Press (Willimantic, CT), 1996.
Contributor in El Espejo/The Mirror: Selected Chicano Literature, edited by O. Romano and H. Rios, Quinto Sol Publications, 1972; and We Are Chicanos: An Anthology of Mexican-American Literature, edited by Philip D. Ortego, Washington Square Press, 1974.
Contributor of poetry to San Antonio Express/News, Persona, El Grito, Entre Nosotros, Caribbean Review, Hispamerica: Revista de literatura, Revista Chicano-Riqueña, Poema Convidado, and Texas Quarterly; contributor of essays to Cuadernos Hispanoamericanos, Papeles de Son Armadans, and Journal of Spanish Studies: Twentieth Century