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Brazos Valley Reads 2023: Emmy Pérez – “From Storytelling Roots: Poetics of Resistance, Belonging, & Love”

Pérez will speak to the Brazos Valley community on April 3rd, 2023 in the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center at 7:00pm

Pérez will speak to the Brazos Valley community on April 3rd, 2023 in the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center at 7:00pm. The event is free to the public and will include a book signing after the reading.

Emmy Pérez, USA Fellow 2022, has lived in the Texas borderlands for 22 years, the first six in El Paso where she has family roots before she moved to McAllen where she currently lives. Originally from Santa Ana, California, she is the author of the poetry collections With the River on Our Face (University of Arizona Press) and Solstice (Swan Scythe Press). A volume of her New and Selected poems is forthcoming from TCU Press.

Pérez is the recipient of a 2022 United States Artist Fellowship. In 2020, she received a Poets Laureate Fellowship with the Academy of American Poets when she served as Texas Poet Laureate 2020. In previous years, she’s been the recipient of poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. In 2019, she received the inaugural Modesta Avila Award from LibroMobile in her hometown Santa Ana. She is also a past recipient of the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation Award and has held residencies at MacDowell, the Ucross Foundation, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Since 2008, she has been a member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop for socially engaged writers, and in 2010, she was part of the inaugural cohort of CantoMundo fellows (2010-2012). Pérez is a graduate of Columbia University (MFA) and the University of Southern California (BA). ​

Pérez’s poetry has been published with the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day series and Split this Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database. Her work has also appeared in journals such as Prairie Schooner, North American Review, Indiana Review, and Pilgrimage Magazine and anthologies such as Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology (U of Georgia Press), Other Musics: New Latina Poetry (U of Oklahoma Press), Orange County: A Literary Field Guide (Heyday), ​What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy & Outrage (Northwestern U Press), The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry (University of Arizona Press), and A Broken Thing: Poets on the Line (University of Iowa Press).

Over the years, she has served as a creative writing workshop facilitator in community-based programs and adult and juvenile detention centers. And for the past 22 years, she has taught writing at three border region HSI institutions, beginning at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and El Paso Community College. In 2006, she began a tenure-track position in creative writing/poetry at the University of Texas-Pan American, a legacy institution for present-day University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), where she’s currently a full professor of creative writing, serves as department chair, and teaches in the MFA and undergraduate creative writing programs.

In her role as a professor at UTRGV, she has directed many student-led service learning/community engagement projects in community-based programs, schools, and detention centers. She has also directed and served on numerous MFA thesis committees. In 2012, she received a University of Texas Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award, and in 2016, a University Faculty Excellence Award in Student Mentoring. For five years, she held various administrative positions–interim director, associate director, and acting director–with UTRGV’s Center for Mexican American Studies (B3 Institute), and she is an affiliate faculty member of the Mexican American Studies academic program. She also served as the 2021 Consulting Artist-in-Residence with UT San Antonio’s Democratizing Racial Justice Mellon Foundation grant in collaboration with the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center. Currently, she holds the Dr. Robert S. Nelsen Endowed Professorship in Mexican American Studies at UTRGV (2021-2024).

In El Paso, she was a member of the Women Writers’ Collective. In 2017, she co-founded Poets Against Walls writing collective in the Rio Grande Valley.

​Pérez’s Texas Poet Laureate year took place March 25, 2020-May 17, 2021. (Biographical information pulled from Perez’s website.)