The Desert Nights, Rising Stars
Writers Conference

Photograph of Natalie Scenters-Zapico

Natalie Scenters-Zapico

Desert Nights, Rising Stars Faculty 2020

About Natalie Scenters-Zapico

Natalie Scenters-Zapico is the author of Lima :: Limón (Copper Canyon Press 2019) and The Verging Cities (Center for Literary Publishing 2015). She has won fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, CantoMundo, and was a 2018 Poetry Foundation Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellow. Originally from the sister cities of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, she teaches Latina/o Studies and Creative Writing at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma Washington.

Find Conference Sessions with Natalie Scenters-Zapico

Wading through the Noise: Resilience and the Role Critique Plays in Revision
Natalie Scenters Zapico, Jenny Irish, Bill Konigsberg, Malik Toms

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
Location: Carson Ballroom, Old Main
Type: Panel
Genre: Criticism, Mixed Genre, Revision

Everyone’s a critic. In this digital age, criticism can be loud, painful, or downright vicious. It is imperative that writers exercise resilience when taking on critique. How do you know what’s helpful and what’s harmful? What critiques should catch our eyes and ears when it comes to revision of the manuscript, versus those we can cast aside as not helpful? Panelists will talk about how to cut through the noise of trolls and remain centered on genuine improvement in your work.  

More About Natalie Scenters-Zapico

---. "More than one man has reached up my skirt.Lima :: Limón2018.

I’ve stopped asking:
             I’ve let a man whistle
                           from the table for more beer,
& brought it to him
                           with a smile. I’ve slapped
a man & ran
                           while he laughed — 
I’ve had a miscarriage. I’ve let a man
                                       kiss me
after an abortion
                                       & comforted his hot tears.
I’ve done these things,
                                                       while other girls
work in maquilas
                           piecing together
Dell computer boards,
                                       while other girls
work in brothels,
                           & cake foundation across
their bruised arms,
                                       while other girls
                           ride the bus home alone
             at night, every night,
while other girls are found
             wearing clothes
                           that don’t belong to them, or no
clothes at all. I’ve done all of this
                                       while other girls are found
                           with puta
                                       written in blood across
their broken bellies.
             My mother used to cover
my eyes
                           when we’d walk by girls
working the corner,
             & say:
                                       See how lucky you are,
not to have to work
                           like they do? I have been
             muy puta,
                                       have been called puta.
Yes, I’d say, very lucky.

Esquinca, Maria. "Not the Right Frame, but Many Frames: A Conversation with Natalie Scenters-Zapico." The Adroit Journal  

Duality will always play a huge role in my work because I grew up on the U.S.-Mexico border in a place where duality is forced on everyone culturally and governmentally. Not just in the sense of gender binaries, but also through language, physical spaces, documentation, etc. As I stated earlier, I believe that these binaries are profoundly toxic, that they are the site of violence at our core, that they are unnatural and learned. And yet, many people fight tooth and nail to remain within those binaries, teach their children those binaries, and face people who question them with impunity. I don’t view the switching between English and Spanish as a play in binaries as much as a play with a spectrum of Spanglish that counters binaries at the linguistic level.


Chiasson, Dan. "Lima :: Limón By Natalie Scenters-Zapico." The New Yorker, May 27, 2019.

These poems, drawn to the beauty and power of performance, nevertheless deeply mistrust corrupt forms of “simulation,” like staged border crossings billed as fun outings for wealthy young Mexicans, where, “if you are left behind, a pickup truck / will take you back to your hotel.” It’s a simulation that leaves out the essence of the experience; namely, that you might die. Scenters-Zapico’s poems are never simulations in that demeaned sense. Robert Frost called poetry “play for mortal stakes.” The stakes, in Scenters-Zapico’s poems, are that serious: her astonishing verbal crossings reveal a mind as richly self-divided as any you will find.