Jen Yáñez-Alaniz is a Texas-based poet activist. She is the co-creator of Loving, Grieving, & Surviving /Chicanas Read the Poetry of Healing and co-founder of Welcome: A Poetry Declaration, San Antonio, Texas’ city-wide event presented on World Refugee Day. Her work, Matrilineal Poetics: Toward an Understanding of Corporeality and Identity is featured in Latinas in Hollywood Herstories. Her latest and forthcoming publications are included in The Journal of Latina Critical Feminism, Cutthroat: Puro Chicanx Writers of the 21st Century, Rogue Agent Journal, the Mom Egg Review, I Sing: The Body by Flower Song Press, Boundless 2021: The Anthology of the Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival, and more. She was named a finalist for the Kallisto Gaia Press Julia Darling Memorial Poetry Prize and nominated for a 2021 Pushcart Poetry Prize.

Welcome: A Poetry Declaration

“Poetry is one of humanity’s oldest forms of expression and can be used to create deep connections between poets and the worlds they inhabit. Teachers and other community members also use poetry to connect people who feel displaced. A unique project in San Antonio, Welcome: A Poetry Declaration, is using poetry to celebrate World Refugee Day and to create myriad connections for displaced people. Refugees flee from their home countries to preserve their lives and seeking liberty and hoping to find happiness through peace. Once they leave their countries, refugees search for connections to their former homes, to create connections to their new homes, and to promote deeper engagement across humanity.” — City of San Antonio Immigration Liaison, Tino Gallegos

— Co-founders of Welcome: A Poetry Declaration, San Antonio City Immigration Liaison, Celestino Gallegos and Director of CIELO Unity in Action, Jen Yáñez-Alaniz

Watch Welcome: A Poetry Declaration 2021, organized and curated by Jen and Tino, with a special thank you to San Antonio Museum of Art for hosting and to all our community partners, wonderful artists poets, and educators.

Reading from Puro Chicanx Writers of the 21st Century Anthology

Genoa Yáñez-Alaniz illustrates the pain of a young woman’s confrontation with racism at a pivotal moment in her life. In “Purity of the Homecoming Dress,” she writes of a high school girl whose school counselor has made it clear that “[w]e cannot masquerade you in a skinny white girl dress.” The racism she faces has deep roots, hidden in the Texas census records, but her mother urges her to resist:

Bring back the survival of escaped esclavos from your past
Draw their spirits through the gifted length of your body
Bind them to the caramel coating of your Mestiza blood
… And thank them.

Current Collection in Process

I am working on a collection of poetry that explores the repressive denigration of racial, sexual and personal value in patriarchal religion and society. Based on my own perceptions, my poetry utilizes the metaphors of traditional Catholicism and caste-level colonialism, to break free from painful traditions and to reveal hidden oppression. 

2021 Pushcart Nomination

Super Thrilled! A poem from my current collection in process, “My Body at the Table” was nominated for a 2021 Pushcart Prize. Thank You Rogue Agent editors Jill Khoury, Jen Stein Hauptmann, and Joan Glass. The poem can be read in issue #81 here.

“on the occasion of your first publication: may [this] remind you always of the strength of your writing gifts— your writing is a lion—powerful and filled with grace. And your contributions to the arts will be as unique and as useful as were Frida’s.“—Con amor y esperanza para tu futuro, Carmen Tafolla

I am grateful to my dear friend and mentor, Carmen Tafolla, for her ever present literary curanderismo. Her reassuring words and editing magic led me to my first submission and publication. She continues to support me as I grow and develop as a poet, educator, and cultural activist.

Language as a Political Act: Poet Carmen Tafolla and Dissolving Borders

by Jen Yáñez-Alaniz


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