Nephtali De León will serve as San Antonio's next Poet Laureate

De León will be Poet Laureate for 2023-2026, succeeding current Poet Laureate Andrea 'Vocab' Sanders.

click to enlarge Nephtali De León is known for poems, stories and essays that have been published in several countries and languages. - Courtesy Photo / City of San Antonio Department of Arts & Culture
Courtesy Photo / City of San Antonio Department of Arts & Culture
Nephtali De León is known for poems, stories and essays that have been published in several countries and languages.
On Monday, March 20, the City of San Antonio announced that Nephtali De León will be the city's new Poet Laureate, succeeding Andrea "Vocab" Sanders.

De León is a Laredo-born Chicano author and artist. His first book, Chicanos: Our Background and Our Pride, was published during the 1960s while he was still in high school. Since then, his many works have been published in the U.S., Mexico, Spain and France, and translated into multiple languages. He currently works full-time on his writing and art, in addition to giving lectures and reading poetry at schools and community events.

“Nephtali’s work in the community is exemplary of the role of a Poet Laureate,” City of San Antonio Department of Arts & Culture Executive Director Krystal Jones said in a statement. “He is one of the most prolific Chicano writers in the literary world today and his lyrical poetry and other artistic expressions have touched the lives of so many, both here in San Antonio and across the globe.”

San Antonio was the first major city in Texas to recognize and appoint the position of Poet Laureate, starting in 2012. For a three year term, the Poet Laureate promotes and preserves the art of poetry as well as celebrates San Antonio's culture and history. The previous San Antonio Poets Laureate are Carmen Tafolla (2012-2014), Laurie Ann Guerrero (2014-2016), Jenny Browne (2016-2018), Octavio Quintanilla (2018-2020) and Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson (2020-2023). De León joins them as the city's sixth Poet Laureate.

“I am humbled and honored that the city I love, San Antonio, Texas, selected me to be its Poet Laureate, “ De León said in a statement. “Poetry is to the soul what music is to the ear. It is the most profound impassioned quest to brush with the divine. In San Antonio, we speak through our ancestors in a code-switching modality, taco flavored musings. It is the poetry of our jalapeño hot, chili flavored souls! It is time to raise the roof high and celebrate our city.”

De León will serve as Poet Laureate from April 1, 2023 through March 31, 2026. He will be officially appointed in a ceremony hosted by Mayor Ron Nirenberg at City Council Chambers in the Municipal Plaza Building on Monday, April 10 at 6 p.m. This ceremony will also start a series of poetry-related events that will take place throughout April for National Poetry Month. 

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