Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I first read a selection of Emily Pérez’s poetry in 2006 in The New Hampshire Review—the online journal that discontinued publishing after putting out two decent issues. Shortly thereafter, we began to exchange the occasional e-mail.

We met for the first time over breakfast at an AWP conference. I wanted to meet Emily because I had also come across a piece of her critical prose—a book review not about poetry but about a work of experimental fiction. I so enjoyed her writing that I was hoping to enlist her as a contributor to Latino Poetry Review (LPR)

In the end, LPR was lucky enough to count on her incisive and balanced prose on poetry on four occasions:
HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.

On September 25, 2008, Emily Pérez graciously came out to Richard Hugo House to support “The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry ON TOUR.” And so after the reading Richard Blanco, Steven Cordova, Maria Melendez, Deborah Parédez and I shared a meal with her and a few others at a great Asian restaurant whose name now escapes me. That would have been the third stop in the seven-reading tour: here are some pics.

It’s a great pleasure to finally be able to hold in my hands a collection of her poetry. I describe Background Migration Route as a “compact family epic” that is also “story of mestizaje.”

Kazim Ali writes:

“Informed by sound, formed in the mind, Background Migration Route traces the landscape of the American West. Autobiography, geography, literary criticism and even mathematics weave together. School yourself with these far-ranging poems about growing up between languages and cultures.”

Emily Pérez grew up in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. She earned a BA at Stanford University and an MFA from the University of Houston where she worked as a poetry editor for Gulf Coast and a writer-in-residence with Writers in the Schools. She has been awarded scholarships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Summer Literary Seminars in St. Petersburg, Russia, and she recently joined the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. She writes reviews for the Latino Poetry Review, and her poems have appeared in Borderlands, Third Coast, The Laurel Review, Ocho, Nimrod, DIAGRAM and other journals. She teaches high school in Seattle, Washington, where she lives with her husband and son.

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