Rich Villar is a writer, performer, and educator originally from Paterson, New Jersey. His first book, Comprehending Forever: Poems (Willow Books 2014), was a finalist for the International Latino Book Award.
His 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.
Rich has served as a poet-in-residence teaching creative writing to students from middle school to University 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 served as faculty for the Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching in 2016; he currently teaches for La Sopa, a community-based workshop for creative writers and performers.
He is a frequent performer and curator at the iconic Nuyorican Poets Cafe, where he served as host of the Friday night Open Room. He has served as a curator for La Casita at Lincoln Center Out Of Doors since 2008, 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.
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.
Rich is a CantoMundo fellow, as well as an alum of the VONA/Voices Workshop and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He also maintains an active presence on social media: you can find him on Facebook, and you can follow him on Instagram and Twitter (@elprofe316).