Spotlight Iowa City: Spanish associate professor to publish poetry book


Brenna Norman/The Daily Iowan
Ana Merino, a UI associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese and creative writing, pets her cat, Thumbalina, in her Iowa City home on Tuesday. Merino has several published poetry and other works, and she is working on a new book of poetry.
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Ana Merino instills literature in the lives of children through a book of Hispanic children’s poetry to be released this spring. Soon after the release, she will visit schools in Spain, meeting the children who have the opportunity to read her work.

“I am thrilled,” said the 38-year-old associate professor of Spanish. “It is going to be so beautiful, because one of the top comic illustrators in Spain is doing the illustrations for the book.”

Merino, a native of Madrid, Spain, came to the University of Iowa last year to teach. This semester, she leads two Spanish classes: an undergraduate creative-writing workshop and a graduate class on graphic comics.

“She is a very passionate woman in all ways, especially her job. She is very involved with it and sometimes I have to tell her that she has to find some detachment,” said her husband, Félix de la Concha, 47. She met the professional artist at a filmmaker’s party in Madrid before coming to the States in 1995.

Merino’s appreciation for literature and art is something she shares with the man she married.

“We both have creative jobs, but in different fields, so we can understand each other’s creative processes, and we complement each other in that way,” de la Concha said.

Merino combines her love for writing and art with graphic novels. When people read her poetry in contrast with her graphic works, she said, “it is funny that people take a while to realize we are the same person.”

At the university, Merino can develop numerous sides of what she loves — writing and teaching.

In her graduate graphic comics class earlier this week, Merino conversed with students about the complexities of the comics they are studying and used projections of the art to enhance the meaning of the content.

Tania Pérez Cano, a graduate student of Latin American and Peninsular Literature in Merino’s class, said, “She’s very engaging and is very aware of the students’ needs. She tries to combine a theoretical approach with a more enjoyable perspective of literature and culture.”

The potential Merino sees in her students is something she says is incredible. This talent is nurtured by a lot of reading and writing practice in her class, and students are challenged to work in teams to support each other in pushing past their boundaries to grow as writers and speakers.

Roberto Ampuero, an assistant professor in the department, said Merino “is a wonderful colleague, instructor, and poet whose support of our department has been crucial for the development of creative-writing classes in Spanish.”

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