Jen Yáñez-Alaniz identifies as Chicana Mestiza (she/her). She advocates for human rights as a community organizer facilitating equity-driven cultural conversations focused on the preservation of language, language literacy, and food traditions. She is the co-creator of Loving, Grieving, & Surviving /Chicanas Read the Poetry of Healing and co-founder of Welcome: [A Poetry Declaration], a platform for those with a lived experience of displacement as newcomers, immigrants, and refugees in collaboration with local advocates. Her work, Matrilineal Poetics: Toward an Understanding of Corporeality and Identity is featured in Latinas in Hollywood Herstories. A Pushcart nominee, her latest and forthcoming publications are included in The Journal of Latina Critical Feminism, Cutthroat: Puro Chicanx Writers of the 21st Century, South Dakota Review, West Trestle Review, Rogue Agent Journal, Mom Egg Review, and more.
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 [Jen] 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
Jen Yáñez-Alaniz is working on a collection of poetry that explores the repressive denigration of racial, sexual, and personal value in patriarchal religion and society. Based on her own perceptions, her poetry utilizes the metaphors of traditional Catholicism and caste-level colonialism, to break free from painful traditions and to reveal hidden oppression. Her writing celebrates and empowers the feminine body and spirit while paralleling energy to indigenous female archetypes of strength, leadership, and decolonized beauty.
Jen Yáñez-Alaniz’s poetry is mythic, musical, and political- her craft is subtle birdsong that becomes an explosive echo in your heart- Natalia Treviño
Super Thrilled! A poem from my current collection in process, “My Body at the Table” was nominated for a 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.