It is with great sadness that we announce that Hache (H.G.) Carrillo, a former professor of creative writing at GW English and Board Member of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, passed away last week.
Author of Loosing My Espanish (2005), and numerous works of short fiction, Carrillo’s oeuvre explores Afro-Cuban American immigrant experience and the complexities of racial identity, cultural belonging, and life across languages. We will always remember Hache for his humor, kindness, and deep commitments to his craft, communities, and students.
Prof. Lisa Page, Director of Creative Writing, shares these memories: “Hache Carrillo was deeply invested in his creative writing students. He shared elements of craft and was passionate about the process. He dismissed mediocrity, both within and outside the classroom. He helped several students apply to MFA programs, around the country. His fierce commitment resulted in some being accepted to the Iowa Writing Workshop, as well as other outstanding institutions.”
Prof. Kavita Daiya, Associate Professor of English and Director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, remembers Hache Carrillo with great affection: “Hache was a wonderful colleague and writer. Devoted to his students and his craft, he was ever generous, warm, full of life and laughter. My former graduate students Sreyoshi Sarkar and Tariq Al Haydar also remember him with appreciation for his generous vision and his warmth as they worked with him as GTAs and students. To lose his vibrant and inspiring presence in our world is heartbreaking beyond measure.”
Prof. Jennifer James remembers her friend as being erudite in the best sense: “He read everything, and though a specialist in LatinX writers, his reading was not bound to race, ethnicity, language, period, place, or genre. Some of the more well-known authors who influenced his writing included Henry James, Flannery O’Connor, Toni Morrison, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Malcom Lowry, Pablo Neruda and of course his mentor, Helena Viramontes. He was also a classically trained pianist and an avid collector of visual art. Both of those passions inspired his writing and teaching, transforming his classroom into laboratories for ideas about the creative process beyond the written word. As so many others have attested, his generosity as a professor and mentor was legendary. The final year Professor Carrillo was in our department, a group of students asked him to lead a reading dedicated to One Hundred Years of Solitude outside of class. He agreed, and students gathered every week for an entire semester in our conference room to perform deep, close readings of Marquez’s important novel. He did this without compensation or recognition. He did this because literature and students mattered to him.”
Tariq al Haydar, a fiction writer, has written a tribute to Prof. Carrillo here and you can contribute to a growing collection of memories on this website entitled For Hache. For further commemorations of Prof. Carrillo and his work, read these remarks from Lambda Literary and Latina/o Studies at Cornell, as well as two reflections published by students in the GW Hatchet on Carrillo’s teaching (from February 2010 and October 2011).