Emmy Pérez

She // Her // Hers

[ID: A portrait of a woman standing in a sunny canyon. She has dark wavy hair pulled back under a blue bandanna. A lock of turquoise-highlighted hair peeks out from under the bandanna.]

McAllen, TX
2022 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett.

Emmy Pérez, the 2020 Texas poet laureate, is the author of two 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 Texas Christian University Press. Her work has also appeared in anthologies such as Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology, Other musics: New Latina Poetry, and What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump.

Since 2008, Pérez has been a member of the Macondo Writers Workshop for socially engaged writers. She has received poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, CantoMundo, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She is also a past recipient of the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation award, the inaugural Modesta Avila Award from LibroMobile in her hometown of Santa Ana, California, and a Poets Laureate Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets.

For more than twenty years, Pérez has lived in the Texas borderlands, where she cofounded the Poets Against Walls collective in 2017. Over the years, she has led numerous community-based workshops and projects. Currently, she is a professor of creative writing at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and associate director of the Center for Mexican American Studies. Pérez is also serving as the 2021 consulting artist in residence for the University of Texas San Antonio’s Democratizing Racial Justice grant project, a collaboration with the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center.

Portrait photo courtesy of the artist.


[No strawberry moon]

No strawberry moon for me, tonight. No strawberry moon. This small house creaks when I walk and open it. I have to weigh it, to goddess or not tonight. Goddess or godless. God is in my sleeping children’s presence tonight. I use words like god when I haven’t seen the strawberry moon, less when I haven’t been so generous. It’s not about gender—ess or less—but heft of the weight. Inside me like a baby. When people procreate. Romance a dashing thing. The harvest upon us. Will we feast or collapse in exhaustion tonight which is every?