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About this poet

Carmen Giménez-Smith was born on February 20, 1971, in New York City. She received a BA in English from San Jose State University in 1994 and an MFA in creative writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

She is the author of the poetry collections Cruel Futures, which is forthcoming from City Lights in 2018; Milk & Filth (University of Arizona Press, 2013); Goodbye, Flicker (University of Massachusetts Press, 2012), winner of the Juniper Prize for Poetry; The City She Was (Center for Literary Publishing, 2011); and Odalisque in Pieces (University of Arizona Press, 2009).

Her poetry is well known for its portrayal of the experiences and histories of women, particularly those of Latina identity. The poet Dana Levin says of her poems, “It’s as if Giménez-Smith threw a stone called ‘girl’ into the pong of psyche—a psyche both personal and collective—and these are the ripples.”

Giménez-Smith says, “I think that the canon privileges male histories, both political and private, whereas women’s same histories are seen as domestic trifles. So I intend to go as deep as possible into those trifles.” She is also the author of a memoir, Bring Down the Little Birds: On Mothering, Art, Work, and Everything Else (University of Arizona Press, 2010).

The recipient of an American Book Award and a fellowship from the Howard Foundation, Giménez-Smith was named one of Poetry Society of America’s New American Poets in 2009. She currently teaches in the creative writing programs at New Mexico State University and Ashland University, while also serving as the publisher of Noemi Press and the editor-in-chief of Puerto del Sol. She lives with her husband, the writer Evan Lavender-Smith, and their children in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Selected Bibliography

Milk and Filth (University of Arizona Press, 2013)
Goodbye, Flicker (University of Massachusetts Press, 2012
The City She Was (Center for Literary Publishing, 2011)
Odalisque in Pieces (University of Arizona Press, 2009)

Bring Down the Little Birds: On Mothering, Art, Work, and Everything Else (University of Arizona Press, 2010)


We make dogma out of letter writing: the apocryphal story 
of Lincoln who wrote angry letters he never sent. We wait for letters 
for days and days. Someone tells me I'll write you a letter
and I feel he's saying you're different than anyone else.
Distance's buzz gets louder and louder. It gets to be a blackest hole.
I want the letter about the time we cross the avenue, and you reach 
for my hand without looking—I am afraid I'm not what you want. 
We float down the street as if in the curve of a pod 
and the starry black is like the inside of a secret. We're drunk. 
The streetlight exposes us which becomes the deepest 
horror. Yes. End the letter like that, so it becomes authorless. 
Then the letter might give off secrets: acid imbalances that detonate.

Copyright © 2010 by Carmen Jiménez Smith. Used by permission of the author.

Copyright © 2010 by Carmen Jiménez Smith. Used by permission of the author.

Carmen Giménez Smith

Carmen Giménez Smith

Carmen Giménez-Smith is the author of Milk & Filth (University of Arizona Press, 2013).

by this poet


I have thirty seconds to convince you
that when I’m not home, my verve is still,
online or if I’m sleeping when you call,
sheep are grazing on yesterday’s melodrama.
Does anybody know what the burning umbrella
really meant? Forget it. Tell me what you need.
Leave me a map. Leave me


I was light from the mouth from every part of me
I was of the earth or a scar in the earth rent through
the ruins of late civilization and bubbled from it and
became a saint’s reptilian spirit and I could taste
the wheat and coal and gold like a trinity of bounty
and I was vapor like a smog

My siblings and I archive the blanks in my mother’s memory, 
diagnose her in text messages. And so it begins, I write although 

her disease had no true beginning, only a gradual peeling away 
until she was left a live wire of disquiet. We frame her illness 

as a conceptual resistance—She thinks, yet