Originally from Santa Ana, California, poet Emmy Pérez has lived in the Texas borderlands for the past 18+ years, reconnecting with her family history in Ysleta/El Paso and moving along the border to the Rio Grande Valley, where she has lived for the past 12 years. A graduate of Columbia University (MFA) and the University of Southern California (BA), she is the author of the poetry collections With the River on Our Face (University of Arizona Press) and Solstice (Swan Scythe Press); she is currently working on a third.
Pérez is the recipient of a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in poetry. In previous years, she was a recipient of poetry fellowships from CantoMundo, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MacDowell, the Ucross Foundation, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. She has also received the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation Award for her poetry and the James D. Phelan Award for her prose writing. Since 2008, she has been a member of the Macondo Writers Workshop founded by Sandra Cisneros for socially engaged writers.
Pérez’s poetry has been published in the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day series, on the Poetry Foundation online site, and in Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database. Her work has also been published in journals such as Prairie Schooner, North American Review, Indiana Review, Pilgrimage Magazine, Huizache, and anthologies such as Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology (University of Georgia Press), Other Musics: New Latina Poetry (University of Oklahoma Press), Entre Guadalupe y Malinche: Tejanas in Literature & Art (University of Texas Press), and The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry (University of Arizona Press).
Her lyric essays have appeared in A Broken Thing: Poets on the Line (University of Iowa Press) and IMANIMAN: Poets Reflect on Transformative & Transgressive Borders in Gloria Anzaldúa’s Work (Aunt Lute Books).
She has also taught university/college courses for over 18 years, 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 at the University of Texas-Pan American, a legacy institution for the present-day University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), where she is Professor of Creative Writing and teaches in the MFA and undergraduate programs. She also serves as Associate Director for the Center for Mexican American Studies and is an affiliate faculty member in the Mexican American Studies program. Since 2008, she has coordinated an annual campus event in honor of Gloria Anzaldúa, “El Retorno: El Valle Celebra Nuestra Gloria.”
In 2012, she received a University of Texas Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award, and in 2016, a University Faculty Excellence Award for Student Mentoring.
She serves on the organizing committee for CantoMundo, a national organization for Latinx poets, and is a co-founder of Poets Against Walls.