Writing in both Spanish and English, at times sliding back and forth between the two languages, Villanueva writes poems exploring themes of memory, longing, and history. He is the author of several poetry collections, including Hay Otra Voz: Poems (1972); Scene from the Movie GIANT (1993), which won an American Book Award; and So Spoke Penelope (2013). He translated Luis J. Rodríguez’s La Llaman América (1998), and his own poems have been translated into Italian, French, German, Portuguese, Greek, and Korean.
The founder of Imagine Publishers, Inc., Villanueva has edited Imagine: International Chicano Poetry Journal and the anthology Chicanos: Antología Histórica y Literaria (1980).Villanueva received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from Texas State University-San Marcos. He has taught at Wellesley College and Boston University. A selection of his papers is held at the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University. He lives in Boston.