Carmen Giménez Smith

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Carmen Giménez Smith

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 Be Recorder, forthcoming from Graywolf Press in the fall of 2019, Cruel Futures (City Lights Publishers, 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 Virginia Tech and Bennington College and also serves as the publisher of Noemi Press as well as the editor, alongside Stephanie Burt, of the Nation’s poetry section. In 2018, she became a codirector at CantoMundo. She lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Selected Bibliography

Be Recorder (Graywolf Press, 2019)
Cruel Futures (City Lights Publishers, 2018)
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)

by this poet

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

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