Levi Romero

Photo: Levi Romero

Associate Professor


Levi Romero was selected as the inaugural New Mexico Poet Laureate in 2020. His most recent book is the co-edited anthology, Querencia: Reflections on the New Mexico Homeland. His two collections of poetry are A Poetry of Remembrance: New and Rejected Works and In the Gathering of Silence. He is co-author of Sagrado: A Photopoetics Across the Chicano Homeland. His co-edited, New Mexico Poetry Anthology 2023, is forthcoming from Museum of New Mexico Press, 2023. He has served as co-editor on various journals and anthologies, including Chamisa: A Journal of Literary, Performance, and Visual Arts of the Greater Southwest. His poems and book publications have received numerous awards, including two 2017 Society for Humanistic Anthropology Poetry Award Honorable Mentions, a 2015 International Latino Book Awards, 2014-2015 Southwest Book Award, New Mexico Arizona Book Award, Writers’ League of Texas Book Award, Finalist, and a Best Books of the Southwest. He is also the recipient of several NEA and NEH grant awards, including a Research and Creative Works Leadership Award. He was awarded the post of New Mexico Centennial Poet in 2012. Romero is a bilingual poet whose language is immersed in the regional manito dialect of northern New Mexico. His work has been published throughout the United States, Mexico, Spain, and Cuba. His poem writing exercise, “Where I’m From, De dónde yo soy,” based on the original poem, Where I’m From, by George Ella Lyon, was published by Scholastic as part of a nationwide educational project and has been used extensively, nationally and internationally. He has taught writing workshops for schools, universities, incarcerated populations, libraries, community centers, writers’ organizations, private mentorships, and has also collaborated with community libraries on various ethno-poetry and oral history documentation projects. His work has been featured in numerous anthologies and on-line publications. He is a member of the Macondo Writers Workshop. He has co-directed two films on acequia culture. Bendición del agua, a short film, premiered at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, and Going Home Homeless won a People’s Choice Award at the Taos Shortz Film Festival. Romero is from the Embudo Valley of northern New Mexico.He is an Associate Professor in the Chicana and Chicano Studies department at the University of New Mexico where he directs the New Mexico Cultural Landscapes Certificate program and the Digital Cuentos project.  



Querencia: Home, Place, and Identity         

What is the connection between place and identity?  The story of human existence is one of movement and settlement, and we have pondered how these ways of being in the world influence who we are and who we might become for millennia.  Origin stories the world over feature accounts of where a people came from as a way of telling how they came to be. We will examine the ideas of place and home and how Chicano/a and Native American writers have addressed it in their work. Northern New Mexico cultural envoy, Juan Estevan Arellano, used the concept of querencia to define the relationship between place and identity. Querencia, he wrote, is that which gives us a sense of place, that which anchors us to the land, that which makes us a unique people. Using the course readings on place and identity, students will write and workshop their own musings on querencia, a place where one feels safe, a place from which one’s strength of character is drawn, where one feels at home. Prepare to embark on a journey that will guide you home to your querencia.

Acequia Landscapes: Water, Land, Community

With irrigation methodologies derived from Middle Eastern, Spanish, Mediterranean, and  Indigenous peoples, these ancient community waterways known as acequias continue to function in the manner established in New Mexico by los nuevos pobladores (new settlers) more than 400 years ago. This class will examine the acequia cultural ecosystem and its unique traditions and practices. Students will learn about acequia terminology, concepts, laws, governance, and religious rituals vital to acequia communities.


New Mexico Villages and Cultural Landscapes

Before the age of strip malls, big-box supercenters, store-bought produce, and cyberspace social networks, New Mexicans gathered in plazas, grew their own vegetable gardens, and engaged in platicas to share stories and exchange knowledge and information. Our class will examine various cultural settings and traditions such as plazas, salas, resolanas, matanzas, acequia culture, and read from a collection of narratives that celebrate community and explore New Mexico’s cultural heritage from its not-so-easily-forgotten past through the present day.


Writers in the Community

Writers in the Community is a course designed to place UNM writing (and non-writing) students into diverse community settings to work alongside students of all ages, needs, interests and abilities. WIC workshops will be offered in schools, community centers, justice settings, homeless-shelters, healthcare facilities, non-profit organizations, and other venues. The WIC writers-in-residence will facilitate creative writing workshops, literary projects, and other types of workshops as per the sponsor’s needs and interests. This could include design/planning projects, community library oral history projects, museum and cultural centers, etc… UNM students will work with program coordinators to accomplish goals established between the UNM students and their sponsors. WIC also aims to develop internships in publishing, editorial, library collections, and other professional writing environments. Students may propose a cross-genre workshop in keeping with the WIC vision of community service learning.


Un Trip Through New Mexico’s Literary Landscape and Beyond

This is a survey course of Chicano/a letters and the spoken word tradition in New Mexico and beyond. Beginning with the Discovery period, El Movimiento, and through the Contemporary, we will journey through a poetic odyssey that navigates through a diversity of poets, storytellers, singers/songwriters, and spoken word artists whose work honors the poetic tradition in a diversity of forms. In addition, we will explore a multiplicity of genres such as cuentos, corridos,inditas, and alabados as forms of ritual and cultural expression in the written and oral tradition. Literature, film, video, music and live recitals will inform our interdisciplinary study and analysis.