History

The series began by accident on March 27, 2012, the day American poet, Adrienne Rich died. Founder, poet and Episcopal priest, Spencer Reece, held what was intended to be a “one-off” reading on the patio of the Catedral del Redentor to cheer up his friend, Cuban-American poet, Richard Blanco, who was despairing over poetry ́s diminishing readership. Ten people attended.

Portentiously, in less than a year Richard Blanco would be reading at the White House for the second inauguration of Barack Obama.

And yet, while the Unamuno Author Series unknowingly began that day between Blanco and Reece, its spirit originates in a much older relationship between a priest and a poet at the very same cathedral.

In 1934, esteemed Spanish writer, Miguel de Unamuno sought solace with Episcopal priest, Atilano Coco, as the civil war raged on. People were taking sides, disappearing and dying every day. Unamuno and Coco’s friendship lasted until Coco was shot dead in a firing squad by Franco’s troops in 1936. Unamuno died shortly after of a heart attack while under house arrest ordered by Franco’s regime.

Our eponymous series echoes at its core friendship and the mystical bond between poetry and the human spirit Coco and Unamuno began years ago. Today our series has grown into a team of five, dedicated to continuing the exploration of this bond. We have brought over 35 poets to Madrid and will continue to bring poets every month.

From the start we have received the support and encouragement from Laura García Lorca, the niece of Federico García Lorca. Her support has meant more than she can know, and we name this prize in honour of her uncle, who has inspired so many of us.