The City of San Antonio on March 20 announced Nephtali De León as San Antonio’s new Poet Laureate, a role De León will fill from April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2026.
City officials said De León is a Chicano writer and artist known for his poetry, children’s stories, essays, paintings and sculptures. The Laredo native said his immigrant parents were the first to expose him to literature.
De León published his first book, “Chicanos: Our Background and Our Pride,” in the early 1960s during his senior year of high school. He then published several poets and plays with many of his works translated into numerous languages, city officials said.
De León is a full-time poet, writer, and painter who lectures and poems at schools and community events.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg and the city’s Department of Arts and Culture will host a public induction ceremony at 6:00 p.m. April 10 at the City Council Hall, 114 W. Commerce St., to formally nominate De León as Poet Laureate, a location designed to promote and preserve the art of poetry while celebrating the culture and history of San Antonio.
Local leaders said San Antonio in 2012 became the first major city in Texas to recognize and name a poet laureate. Texas has named a state Poet Laureate since 1932. De León joins previous San Antonio Poets Laureate Carmen Tafolla, 2012-14; Laurie Ann Guerrero, 2014-16; Jenny Browne 2016-18; Octavio Quintanilla 2018-20; and Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson, 2020-23.
Three of San Antonio’s previous poet laureates also became state poet laureates for Texas, local leaders said.
“[De León’s] community work is exemplary of the role of a poet laureate. He is one of the most prolific Chicano writers in the literary world today, and his lyric poetry and other artistic expressions have touched the lives of so many, both here in San Antonio and around the world,” said Krystal Jones, executive director of the the city’s arts and culture department, in a statement.
De León said he was humbled and humbled by an honor bestowed upon him by his longtime hometown.
“Poetry is to the soul what music is to the ear. It is the deepest passionate search to touch the divine. In San Antonio, we speak through our ancestors in a mode of code-switching, taco-flavored musings. It is the poetry of our spicy jalapeno pepper flavored souls. It’s time to raise the roof and celebrate our city,” De León said in a statement.