PULLMAN, Wash. — Award-winning Latin American writer Victor Hernandez Cruz will read selections from his newest book, “Maraca,” at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17, in Washington State University’s Kimbrough Concert Hall. The reading follows the championship match of Palouse Punch, the area’s first poetry bout.

Critics have described Cruz’s work as “tough, lyrical, rhythmic, lush, dead-pan funny and dead-pan beautiful” and a combination of “wit, insight and faith.” The Washington Post called Cruz “a fluent sensualist and rhythmic stylist” and “a revered forerunner and seminal influence on the Nuyorican poetry movement.”

He says he writes in three languages: Spanish, English and Bilingual. “From the mixture a totally new language emerges, an intense collision, not just of words, but of attitudes,” he says. His influences include traditions of oral poetry, music, dance and written literature and the authors William Carlos Williams, Amiri Baraka, Ed Dorn, Wallace Stevens, Frederico Garcia Lorca, Luis Pales Matos, Cesar Vallejo and Robert Creeley.

Cruz was born in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico, and came with his family to New York City in 1954. By 1966 at age 17, he had completed a collection of verse, “Papa Got His Gun, and Other Poems,” and in 1969 published, “Snaps.” He edited Umbra magazine in New York, lectured at the University of California at Berkeley and taught at San Francisco State University.

He is a recipient of the Guggenheim Award and the New York Poetry Foundation Award. He was twice crowned the World Heavyweight Poetry Champion in Taos, N.M.

Cruz’s reading is part of WSU’s Department of Comparative American Cultures Annual Lecture Series, “Who Speaks for America?”

For more information, contact Callie Palmer, Palouse Punch contact, 509/335-2605.