Author Stella Pope Duarte

courtesy of the author

Stella Pope Duarte describes the cathartic moment she realized she was born to be a writer, and muses on writing “from Arizona.”

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Inspired to become a writer through a prophetic dream of her father in 1995, Stella Pope Duarte is described as a “magical weaver with a sure hand and a pure heart.” She is praised as an author who “will enlarge humanity.” Twice awarded a creative writing fellowship from the Arizona Commission on the Arts for her first collection of short stories, Fragile Night, (Bilingual Review Press, 1997) and her highly acclaimed, debut novel, Let Their Spirits Dance, (HarperCollins, 2002), Duarte has been described by critics as a “major, new literary voice in America.”

Ms. Duarte’s work has won honors and awards nationwide. If I Die in Juárez,
(University of AZ Press, 2008) received a 2009 American Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize nomination. It was selected as a “Top Pick” in the Southwest Books of the Year Competition, and was awarded the Arizona Book of the Year Award for “Best in Popular Fiction.” The novel was also awarded two Gold Medals in the category of “Multicultural Fiction,” by the Foreword Book of the Year Award, and the Independent Publisher’s Book of the Year Award, as well as earning an Honorable Mention in the International Latino Book Awards. In 2008, she earned first prize in the 34th Annual Chicano/Latino
Literary Prize from the University of California at Irvine for her short story collection, Women Who Live in Coffee Shops and Other Stories (Arte Publico Press, 2010).

Let Their Spirits Dance is on the Book Sense List, and was awarded the AZ Highways Fiction Award for 2003, and nominated as a ONEBOOKAz in 2004. Ms. Duarte won the 2003, Excellence in Latino Arts & Culture Award, and in 2004, she received the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Award for an excerpt from, If I Die in Juárez. In 2005 she was awarded the Outstanding Alumni of the Year, by the American Association of Community Colleges. In 2011 she was honored with the Women in American History Award from the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Professor Alberto Rios Outstanding Literary/Arts Award. Ms. Duarte is a highly sought-after inspirational
speaker for audiences of all ages. She was born and raised in the Sonorita Barrio inSouth Phoenix.

Stella will be making several appearances in the Valley in the next few months, including March 8, 2012, she participates in the “Women Writers Panel for International Women’s Day.” The event includes panel discussion, Q & A and refreshments.
Arizona Historical Society, 1300 College Avenure, Tempe, AZ 6-8PM.
Contact Dianne Post for more information: [email protected]

April 18, 2012, Stella is a featured author at the “Manuscripts and Munchies Series.”
5th and Wine, 7051 E. 5th Ave, Scottsdale AZ. 5:30p-7pm.
[email protected]


Additional Audio: Stella Pope Duarte remembers an “almost” trip to Chicago.

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To learn more about Stella Pope Duarte, visit her website:

Stella’s books are available locally at


  1. Cyndy Gaughan says:

    Hmmm. I have found something inspiring in this audio piece learning of Stella’s work. Thank you!

  2. D. Gonzales says:

    Great Interview. Stella Pope Duarte is an amazing storyteller and teacher. Thank God her father reminded her just how gifted she is and now we all get to share in her gift(s). I loved her story on the “almost trip” to Chicago. I related to that story very much. I too grew up in South Phoenix (Golden Gate Barrio) I remember when I was 18 years old. I had got accepted to the University of Long Beach TV/Film Department. When I told my parents of the news and my plans..instead of being happy for me, they encouraged me not to go and that I was not ready yet. So I did not go, and inside my heart I am convinced that they were right and that I probably needed more time here at home in Phoenix to figure out who I was. For years, I had carried regret, but my personal experience and growing older I finally realize that they probably did it for my best interest and I know that I wasn’t ready and I needed to experience more of ME and my family here at home. We all take different paths, and Stella Pope Duarte proves that!! I just read her book, “Let Their Spirits Dance.” Great novel. Everyone should read it!!

  3. htcadmin says:

    Thanks for sharing YOUR story! Stella’s stories greatly resonate with me too—I also just finished “Let their Spirits Dance”, and cried through the last two chapters. She’s an absolute treasure in our community.

    Signed—the Producer: J.Hilton

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