Emmy Pérez is a Chicana poet and writer originally from Santa Ana, California. She has lived on the Texas-Mexico border, from El Paso to the Rio Grande Valley (where she currently lives), since the year 2000. 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).
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, the MacDowell Colony, 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 and appears on the Poetry Foundation online. Her work has also been published in journals such as Prairie Schooner, North American Review, Indiana Review, Crab Orchard Review, Pilgrimage Magazine, PALABRA: A Magazine of Chicano & Latino Literary Art, and other publications, including the anthologies Orange County: A Literary Field Guide (Heyday), Entre Guadalupe y Malinche: Tejanas in Literature & Art (University of Texas Press), New Border Voices: An Anthology (Texas A&M Press), and The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry (University of Arizona Press). She has work forthcoming in the anthology Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology (University of Georgia 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).
Over the years, she has served as a writing mentor and workshop facilitator at detention centers in New Mexico, El Paso, and the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. She has also taught writing at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and El Paso Community College. In 2004-2005, she was a visiting assistant professor of creative writing at UTEP, and served as visiting director of the West Texas Writing Project 2005.
In 2006, she began a tenure-track position in creative writing at the University of Texas-Pan American, a legacy institution for present-day University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), where she currently is an associate professor in the MFA and undergraduate creative writing programs. She is also an affiliate faculty member in Mexican American Studies. In 2008, she founded an annual event on campus “El Retorno: El Valle Celebra Nuestra Gloria" that she coordinates in honor of the late writer and scholar from the Valley, Gloria E. Anzaldúa. Over the years, she and her students, through service learning projects, have taught creative writing to youth and adults in Edinburg detention center facilities/programs and in community-based programs and schools. In 2012, she received a University of Texas Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award, and in 2016, a University Faculty Excellence Award for Student Mentoring. In 2016-2017, she served as interim director for the Center for Mexican American Studies at UTRGV. She has been awarded faculty development leave for the 2017-2018 academic school year with the support of the NEA poetry fellowship she received to work on her next book project.