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In Memoriam: Poet Francisco X. Alarcón

It is with heavy heart that we share the sad news of poet Francisco X. Alarcón’s passing.

Francisco X. Alarcón lived beyond borders. His poetry straddled cultures and bridged generations. His words will be carried on in the spark he ignited in the great many readers, fellow writers, and dreamers his life touched.

Invocación Nocturna
cierro los ojos
beso la noche
en la boca

invoco
las cuatro
direcciones—

ahora
soy nube
estrella

un nopal
listo para
florecer

Night Invocation
I close my eyes
kiss the night
on the mouth

invoke
the four
directions—

now I am
a cloud
a star

a cactus
ready to
bloom

—Francisco X. Alarcon


Prolific writer and educator, Francisco X. Alarcon was born in Wilmington, California and grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico. It was through transcribing his grandmother’s songs, which were rooted in Mexican oral tradition, that he was inspired to begin writing his own poetry. From that moment on, he said, “I was condemned to be a poet.”

He returned to Los Angeles where he attended Cambria Adult School, East Los Angeles College, California State University, and Stanford University, where he began performing his poetry among literary circles in the San Francisco Bay area and published his first book, Tattoos (Nomad Press, 1985).

“Poetry is really more about a question than an answer,” Alarcón said. “My poetry doesn’t really provide answers. They are really posing questions. The reader has to engage in this challenging process.”

Exploring identity, sexuality, mythology, and culture, Alarcón published numerous celebrated poetry collections for both children and adults, as well language instruction textbooks as part of his advocacy for bilingual education.

Selected Works
Poetry of Resistance: Voices for Social Justice (University of Arizona Press, Forthcoming 2016)
Canto hondo/Deep Song (University of Arizona Press, 2015)
Borderless Butterflies: Earth Haikus and Other Poems/Mariposas sin fronteras: Haikus terrenales y otros poemas (Poetic Matrix Press, 2014)
Ce Uno One: Poemas para el Nuevo Sol/Poems for the New Sun (Swan Scythe Press, 2010)
From the Other Side of Night/Del otro lado de la noche: New and Selected Poems (University of Arizona Press, 2002)
Iguazú/Animalario del Iguazú (Children’s Book Press, 2008)
Poems to Dream Together/Poemas Para Soñar Juntos (Lee & Low Books, 2005)
Iguanas in the Snow and Other Winter Poems/Iguanas en la nieve y otros poemas de invierno (Children’s Book Press, 2001)
Angels Ride Bikes and Other Fall Poems/Los Ángeles Andan en Bicicleta y otros poemas de otoño (Scholastic Library Publishing, 1999)

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