Photo by Margarita Mejía

Rosa Alcalá

author, translator

Rosa Alcalá is a poet and translator from Paterson, New Jersey, who has given readings, talks, and workshops in both the United States and Latin America. Her third and most recent book of poetry, MyOTHER TONGUE (Futurepoem, 2017), was described in The New York Times as capturing empty spaces, hesitations and semantic difficulties to address mothers and daughters, herself as mother and herself as daughter, and the messy emotions and miscommunications that move between languages (in her case, English and Spanish), as well as between and within female bodies, in breastfeeding, menstruation, giving birth. Alcalá’s short, wry lines, self-interruptions and open spaces remind us how little precedent there is for honest writing on these topics, compared with the epic traditions of fathers and sons.Previous collections include Undocumentaries (Shearsman Books, 2010) and The Lust of Unsentimental Waters (Shearsman Books, 2011).

Her fourth poetry collection, YOU, will be published by Coffee House Press in 2024. Her poems have appeared in The Nation, Poetry, and The American Poetry Review, among other journals, and are included in a number of anthologies, including Best American Poetry (2019 & 2021), American Poets in the 21st Century: Poetics of Social Engagement, edited by Claudia Rankine and Michael Dowdy, and The Poem Is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them by Stephanie Burt. The recipient of a National Endow- ment for the Arts Translation Fellowship, and runner-up for a PEN Translation Award, she is the editor and co-translator of New & Selected Poems of Cecilia Vicuña. Recently a Guest Editor for the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series, she is currently a Consulting Editor for the University of Chicago Press’ Phoenix Poets Series. She is Professor of Creative Writing and de Wetter Endowed Chair of Poetry at the University of Texas at El Paso.