Rich Villar is a writer, activist, and educator originally from Paterson, New Jersey. His first collection of poems, Comprehending Forever (Willow Books, 2014), was a finalist for the International Latino Book Award. He is a CantoMundo fellow, as well as an alum of the VONA/Voices Workshop and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.
From 2003-2012, he served as a founding director, host, and co-curator for Acentos, a grassroots project fostering the Latino/a voice in American letters. Its literary arm, The Acentos Review (for which he served as fiction editor), continues to publish emerging and established Latino/a writers four times a year at www.acentosreview.com. He currently serves as Artistic Director and faculty for the School of Poetic Arts (La Sopa NYC) in New York City, a community-based workshop series and school dedicated to long-term artist development, from the exploration of the core principles of literary and theatrical expression, to the development of marketing, social media, and financial literacy for artists in underserved communities.
Rich’s poems and essays have appeared in a number of literary journals, including Black Renaissance Noire, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Rattapallax, Hanging Loose, Thrush Poetry Journal, Union Station, and Radius. He has been quoted on Latino/a literature and culture by HBO and The New York Times. On the radio, his work was featured on Louis Reyes Rivera’s “Perspective,” on WBAI 99.5 FM in New York; on Nuestra Palabra on KPFT-FM in Houston, Texas; and on the long-running NPR program “Latino USA.” His poem “Always Here” appears in the anthology Poetry of Resistance: Voices For Social Justice, from the University of Arizona Press. He is a frequent performer and curator at the iconic Nuyorican Poets Cafe, where he served as host of the Friday night Open Room. Since 2008, he has served as a curator for La Casita at Lincoln Center Out Of Doors, appearing twice as the show’s emcee. He has also contributed poems and performances to various theater spaces, including Actors Stock NYC and Luna Stage in West Orange, NJ.
Rich has led workshops and taught poetry to all ages, in various traditional and nontraditional educative spaces, since 2002. He is a frequent lecturer and panelist on the subjects of Nuyorican poetics, slam and performance poetry, Latino literature, and banned books; presenting on these topics for Poets and Writers Live, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP), the Mosaic Literary Conference, and the Split This Rock Poetry Festival, among many others. He serves as faculty for Bronx Loaf, a teen writers’ conference sponsored by the Foundation For Letters at the Bronx Academy of Letters in Mott Haven. He has been poet-in-residence at Buzz Aldrin Middle School in Montclair, NJ, since 2016. His recent workshops with students from middle school to college have brought him to Hoboken, Jersey City, and Philadelphia. He also served as faculty for the Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching in 2016, working with teachers on pedagogy and poetry.
Through his writing, educational, and curatorial work, Rich has dedicated his life to the fostering of Latino arts and letters throughout the United States. In 2011, he staged a multicultural reading of poets in protest of Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070. He co-sponsored and hosted the 50 For Freedom readings with Tony Diaz and Librotraficante, in response to Arizona’s outlawed Mexican-American Studies program and curriculum. He co-produced and participated in tribute readings celebrating the life and work of seminal Puerto Rican artists Piri Thomas, Tato Laviera, Jack Agüeros, and Frank Espada. He is also a member of Cultural Equity Group, a coalition of artist groups working toward structural equality in arts funding for marginalized communities.
Rich maintains an active presence on social media. You can find him on Facebook, and you can follow him on Instagram and Twitter (@elprofe316).
ABBREVIATED BIO for Performances and Lectures
Rich Villar is a writer, performer, editor, activist, and educator originally from Paterson, New Jersey. His first collection of poems, Comprehending Forever (Willow Books 2014), was a finalist for the International Latino Book Award. He is a 2016 CantoMundo fellow, as well as an alum of VONA/Voices and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He has been quoted on Latino/a literature and culture by HBO and The New York Times.
Rich has taught poetry and nonfiction in various settings from middle schools to universities to community centers nationwide. He currently teaches for the School of Poetic Arts (La SoPA NYC) in New York City, a community-based creative writing and performance program. Since 2008, he has served as a curator for La Casita at Lincoln Center Out Of Doors, appearing twice as the show’s emcee. His poems and essays can be found at Black Renaissance Noire, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Hanging Loose, Thrush Poetry Journal, and Radius, and he has contributed both poems and performances to various theater spaces, including Actors Stock NYC, and Luna Stage in West Orange, NJ.