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The University boasts many prize winners on its faculty, but Carlos Trujillo captured the most important award in his field while still a student. The 40-year-old doctoral candidate in Spanish received Chile's prestigious Pablo Neruda Prize for poetry last month. Spanish Graduate Group Chairperson Jose Regueiro said the award is known throughout the Spanish-speaking world. "It can be described as almost a mini Nobel Prize for poetry written in Spanish," he said. The award, which was presented for the fifth time this year, is given to poets under 40 based on their life's work. Trujillo's career was shaped by the strictures placed on artists under the repressive regime of Chilean military dictator Auguste Pinochet, who took power in 1973. While writers were required to send their manuscripts to the Ministry of the Interior for approval before publication, Trujillo became part of an underground writers' workshop and published his work without permission. Nevertheless, Trujillo is reluctant to call his poetry political. "The government is one of those limits [placed on human beings], but not all," he said. Associate Dean for Romance Languages Peter Earle, who is Trujillo's dissertation advisor, said Trujillo's poetry reflects two contradictory moods. "It's very contemporary, and there are a lot of allusions to political and cultural problems in Chile and the contemporary world in general," Earle said. "But there's a good mixture of wit and serious contemplation in the poetry." Trujillo is a link between two generations of great poets. He said that the older writers who were in his underground workshop are among the best Chilean poets while still others are his former students. The poet said he came to the U.S. to gain perspective on his home country while completing his doctoral work. His dissertation will focus on the poets who were his students. He said he was afraid that his absence from his home country would jeopardize his chances for winning the prize. "It's a surprise [winning] because I have been here for two years," he said. "When I was in Chile three years ago, I thought, 'This prize is mine.' " Trujillo's fourth and most recent work is a collection called de Los que no vemos debajo del agua, which translates roughly as "Those of us who can't see under the water." None of Trujillo's poetry has been published in English.

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