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Award-winning UH professor books prestigious international arts prize

Award-winning UH professor books prestigious international arts prize

Cristina Rivera Garza university of houston UH
Cristina Rivera Garza has won one of only 10 awards. Photo courtesy of University of Houston

An acclaimed University of Houston creative writing professor has just booked a prestigious award. UH’s Cristina Rivera Garza won the Berlin Prize for spring 2023, UH announced.

She is one of only 10 recipients to win the semester-long fellowship, which is awarded annually to elite scholars, writers, composers, and artists who are from or live in the United States. 

Rivera Garza will travel to The American Academy, where she will collaborate with peers and institutions in the institution’s considerable network. As part of the fellowship public program, she and the other fellows will participate in readings, performances, and lectures with German audiences, per a press release.

Berlin Prize recipients are selected by an independent committee; The American Academy in Berlin recently granted 20 prizes — 10 for fall 2022 and 10 for spring 2023.

Rivera Garza will use the Berlin Prize Fellowship to work on her new project, The Solanum Tuberosum Diaries, a nonfiction that explores family history in the context of the demise of potato production in the Toluca Valley in Central Mexico.

“This is such a prestigious award, one that will allow me to build conversations across disciplines with top American scholars and authors in a city burgeoning with cultural and social activity,” said Rivera Garza in a statement. “I am sincerely grateful and elated about this opportunity.”

At UH, she serves as the M.D. Anderson Distinguished Professor and director of the UH doctoral program in creative writing in Spanish. Aside from penning fiction and nonfiction novels, short stories, and poetry, she teaches graduate seminars and workshops on the role of “capitalocene” on contemporary writing practices. “Capitalocene,” she noted in a statement, refers to the era of capitalistic endeavors disrupting our landscape and planet.

The phenomenon  inspired her latest work, Geological Writings, which will be published later this year.

“Professor Rivera Garza is a leader in her field and this honor is well deserved,” said Paula Myrick Short, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, in a statement. “She continues to write thought-provoking works on urgent topics, stimulating international conversations. Her talents as a teacher, researcher and writer have a lasting impact on our creative writing students.”