Local Poets Receive National Honor

Rodney Gomez, McAllen Poet Laureate

The Academy of American Poets, a national organization founded in 1934 to support American poets at all stages of their careers and to foster the appreciation of contemporary poetry, recently awarded its Poets Laureate Fellowship to Poet Laureates from states, cities, counties, and the Navajo Nation. Each poet will receive $50,000 for a combined $1.1 million to support poetry and poetry-related projects. Among the honorees are McAllen Poet Laureate Rodney Gomez and Texas Poet Laureate Emmy Pérez.

Emmy Pérez is the author of With the River on Our Face (University of Arizona Press, 2016). She co-founded the Poets Against Walls collective in 2017 and is Professor of Creative Writing and Associate Director of the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley. In collaboration with LUPE (La Unión del Pueblo Entero), Pérez will facilitate and co-facilitate community-based workshops for youth and adults in the Texas borderlands and help document and amplify the work of Texas B/borderland poets in a digital archive.

Rodney Gomez is the author of four collection of poetry including Arsenal with Praise Song (Orison Books, 2020) and Geographic Tongue (Pleiades Press, 2020), winner of the Pleiades Press Visual Poetry Series. He works as Executive Director of Parking and Transportation at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and lives in McAllen, TX. Gomez will present a high school workshop series to encourage the development of poetry from the border along with a youth anthology that includes poems, writings, and art from students in grades K–12 living in the Rio Grande Valley.

Poems and additional information about Pérez and Gomez can be found at poets.org: https://poets.org/poet/rodney-gomez or https://poets.org/poet/emmy-perez.

Emmy Perez (photo by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi)