Benjamin Alire Sáenz is a Chicano poet, writer, professor and painter who has lived most of his life near the U.S.-Mexico border. He calls himself a “fronterizo” — a Spanish word for border resident — because, he says, the border is integral to his identity and work.
Raised on a small farm in New Mexico, Sáenz attended St. Thomas Seminary in Denver and was ordained as a Catholic priest for the Diocese of El Paso. After three years he left the priesthood to pursue a career in writing and was awarded a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in poetry from Stanford University. He has taught creative writing at the University of Texas-El Paso for the past 20 years.
His first book of poems, “Calendar of Dust,” won an American Book Award in 1992. Three years later he published his first novel, “Carry Me Like Water.” Since then, Sáenz has written seven novels, four children’s books and five collections of poetry. His most recent is “The Book of What Remains.” He is currently working on a collection of poetry that will include a series of odes to Juarez, Mexico.
Benjamin Alire Sáenz reads more of his work in these four web exclusives.