Professor Caballero

Allegheny College Professor’s First Collection of Poetry Honored with Multiple Awards

Allegheny College Professor of English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies M. Soledad Caballero’s first collection of poetry, I Was A Bell, has received several prestigious awards, including the: 

  • 2022 Outstanding Book from the International Association of Autoethnography and Narrative Inquiry
  • 2022 Benjamin Franklin Award Silver Winner from the Independent Book Publishers Association
  • 2022 Juan Felipe Herrera Best Poetry Book Award – One Author in English
  • 2019 Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award

Caballero wrote the collection over five years, gradually exploring her voice online with Grub Street Writers and the Chautauqua Writers Festival, Canto Mundo, and Bread Loaf Writers Conference. 

“My book focuses on family, memory, childhood, immigration, and illness — these are large ideas that many readers could relate to and find a connection. I also write about my love of birds, especially birds of prey,” says Caballero, who joined the Allegheny faculty in 2002. “Overall, the collection is a love letter to memory and what it might mean to heal and love.”

Throughout I Was A Bell, Caballero addresses how memory acts as a continuous stream — a theme she says stems from her training as a British Romanticist.

“I think poetry is a way to remember, a way to put back together, maybe even put things together for the first time — the moments, words, shadows that make it reveal the past and also the present and future,” says Caballero, who received the College’s 2022 Julian Ross Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Caballero adds that her writing benefited from the influence of Professor of Psychology, Aimee Knupsky, who deepened her knowledge of how memory works.

“Doing this exciting work was such a transformative experience for me, and it radically influenced what was possible in my poetry writing,” Caballero says. “I don’t really think my poetry collection would have happened without her influence and the interdisciplinary scholarly work we did together for eight years.”

I Was a Bell is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, and Red Hen Press.