As founder and director of Arte Público Press, the front-runner in the field of U.S. Hispanic literary publishing, Nicolás Kanellos has been the driving force in making the fruits of Hispanic literary creativity available to all people. It is his vision of a showcase for Hispanic literary creativity, arts and culture that has taken Arte Público Press from its beginnings on the artistic fringe to its current status as the oldest and most accomplished publisher of literature by U.S. Hispanic authors.
In the early 1970s, Kanellos founded the Revista Chicana-Riqueña, which became The Amerícas Review, a quarterly magazine of Latino literature, art and thought that has won praise and recognition from The New York Times, Small Press Review and numerous other publications nationwide. The magazine is also the recipient of the 1986 and 1987 Citations of Achievement from the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines.
Building on the literary magazine’s success, Kanellos founded Arte Público Press in 1979 to further the endeavor of providing a national forum for Hispanic literature. The following year, Kanellos, who had been teaching Hispanic literature at Indiana University Northwest, was offered a position at the University of Houston. And, he was invited to bring Arte Público Press with him.
Kanellos received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and is now the Brown Foundation Chair of Spanish at the University of Houston. In his ongoing efforts to bring Hispanic literature to mainstream audiences, he has spearheaded the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage project, which was started in 1992 by Arte Público Press. The Recovery Project represents the first national, coordinated attempt to recover, index and publish lost Latino writings that date from the American colonial period through 1960.
In 1996, Kanellos was honored with an appointment to the recently-created Brown Foundation Inc. Chair in Spanish. Two years earlier, President Bill Clinton appointed and the U.S. Senate confirmed him to a six-year term on the National Council for the Humanities. Kanellos is also a Fellow of the Ford, Lilly and Gulbenkian Foundations and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 1988 President Ronald Reagan presented Kanellos with the White House Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature. He also received the 1989 American Book Award in the publisher-editor category and the 1979 Outstanding Editor award from the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work with Revista Chicana-Riqueña.
An author in his own right, Kanellos’ books on the history of Hispanic literature and theater, as well as reference works he has written and edited have won major citations from the American Library Association, the Texas Institute of Letters and the Southwest Council of Latin American Studies. Kanellos has most recently completed work on Hispanic Immigrant Literature: El Sueño del Retorno (University of Texas Press, 2011). His other books include Herencia: The Anthology of Hispanic Literature of the United States (Oxford University Press, 2001), Nochebuena: Hispanic American Christmas Stories (Oxford University Press, 1999), Hispanic Firsts: 500 Years of Extraordinary Achievement (1997) and The Hispanic American Almanac: From Columbus to Corporate America (1993).