Texas Tech University

Texas Tech Alumnus Wins Prestigious Creative Writing Fellowship to Princeton

Glenys Young

January 11, 2018


Jacob Shores-Argüello released his award-winning second book, “Paraíso,” on Dec. 1.

Jacob Shores-Argüello, who earned his doctorate in creative writing from Texas Tech University in May, recently became one of only five people selected for a prestigious fellowship at Princeton University.

The Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton announced recently that Shores-Argüello will be a Mary MacKall Gwinn Hodder Fellow for the 2018-19 academic year. Hodder Fellows may be writers, composers, choreographers, visual artists, performance artists or other kinds of artists or humanists who have, as the program outlines, “much more than ordinary intellectual and literary gifts.”

The Hodder Fellowship was created to provide artists and humanists in the early stages of their careers an opportunity to undertake significant new work.

“I feel honored to receive this fellowship and will complete a mixed-genre creative work focusing on borders, cultural symbols and climate,” Shores-Argüello said. “The key things the Hodder Fellowship will give me are time and flexibility. I will use the year traveling between Princeton, where I will be able to use the resources of the university and have an office to write, and Costa Rica, where I am conducting a series of interviews. This kind of freedom to complete a large and intricate project is rare, and I am deeply grateful.”

Shores-Argüello is a Costa Rican-American poet and prose writer. He previously received a Fulbright Fellowship, the Dzanc Books ILP International Literature Award, a Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship in Provincetown, the Djerassi Resident Artist's Fellowship and the Amy Clampitt residency in Lenox, Massachusetts. His second book, “Paraíso,” which was released Dec. 1, was selected for the inaugural CantoMundo Poetry Prize. His work appears in The New Yorker, Poetry magazine and The Oxford American.

“One of the most difficult things a writer faces is the distractions that come from trying to pay the bills and just not having enough time/space to get new work written,” said John Poch, a professor and former director of the creative writing program in the Texas Tech Department of English. “Also, prizes often help a writer get more attention to their work and new readers. All this will be a great benefit to Jacob this coming year.”

Poch said he feels gratified to see Shores-Argüello succeed in his field.

“It's a privilege to get to work with someone of Jacob's talent and work ethic,” Poch said. “It feels pretty good to think I have some small part in his success, as all of us in the English Department put a lot of hard work in with these students to help them get to the next level.”

For his part, Shores-Argüello said Texas Tech's creative writing program had a tremendous influence on his writing.

“I was drawn to Texas Tech, first, because of the work published by the professors in the creative writing department and also because the program offers strong funding, especially in the first year,” Shores-Argüello said. “Writers and artists are not often given this kind of fundamental help in a Ph.D. setting, and Texas Tech's commitment made all the difference at a very delicate time in my career. 

“The creative writing program at Texas Tech gave me the opportunity to focus on multiple genres, poetry and prose. I believe this hybrid approach has become fundamental to my writing process and has strengthened everything I have done since leaving Texas Tech.”

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