Conrado Zepeda-Pallares, a Spokane Falls Community College instructor who also advises the Spanish and Alliance clubs on campus, was recently selected as a finalist for the poetry contest “Un Poeta en Nueva York” (Poetry in New York), organized by Valparaíso Press, an international publisher of Spanish language works.
Zepeda-Pallares — whose poetry book “Trizas de Viento Seco” (Dry Wind Shreds) is also being published by Valparaíso — learned the news at a serendipitous time: just as he was about to head off to Madrid, Spain, where he’s presenting at the Madrid Book Fair.
“This is one of the largest book fairs in Europe,” Zepeda-Pallares said from the airport. “And certainly one of the largest and most important in the Spanish language.”
After Spain, Zepeda-Pallares is headed to present at Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, the oldest and largest university in Puebla, México
Since he was 18, Zepeda-Pallares said poetry has played an overwhelmingly large role in his creative expression, but it didn’t become an all-consuming passion until later in life. For much of his time writing, he said he struggled with imposter syndrome, as if he wasn’t good enough to create “in one of the finest manners of expression,” he said.
In 2018, he moved to Spokane from Puerto Rico and due to the amount of paperwork needed to get sorted before he could legally work, Zepeda-Pallares poured his free time into writing. His first book on poetry, titled “Mientras afuera llueve,” was published in 2020.
“I got itchy when I was not writing at all,” he said. “My whole body was telling me that I needed to write and that I needed to create.”
Zepeda-Pallares’ first book, he said, carried some of the same themes his creative writing has for years: dancing, surviving, migrating, traveling and walking. Existing, in a world that isn’t always receptive to the concept.
For his most recent work, which is set to release soon, he centered it on dialects and the relationship between “the land and mother nature and the universe.”
The instructor, who also teaches at Eastern Washington University and Gonzaga University, loves star gazing, and he enjoys watching birds.
He finds and cherishes the complexity in the relationships between desperate beings — a celestial object too big to comprehend, and a smaller bundle of feathers as small as a golf ball.
To him, that’s the way all relationships are. Impossible to accurately define, yet wholly important.
“I know it's a simple metaphor but it’s very real for me,” he said. “Many times I have felt fulfilled here in Spokane even if I don't have thousands of friends. The relationships I have found here are very meaningful.”