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Photograph of Erika L. Sánchez by Rachel Eliza Griffiths
Photograph of Erika L. Sánchez by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Erika L. Sánchez

Distinguished Visiting Writer 2019

About Erika L. Sánchez

Erika L. Sánchez’s debut poetry collection, Lessons on Expulsion, was published by Graywolf in July 2017, and was a finalist for the PEN America Open Book Award. Her debut young adult novel, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, published in October 2017 by Knopf Books for Young Readers, is a New York Times Bestseller and a National Book Awards finalist. She is currently a 2017-2019 Princeton Arts Fellow.

More About Erika L. Sánchez

Sanchez, Erika L. "BaptismVinyl, February 28, 2016.

When the soft mouth of a word unhinges,
it is sticky, it is feral. Beneath the plum tree
I’ve woven my gray hair into a blanket.
Do you think I’m pretty crouched like this?
See, I am my own whore. Watch me
swallow my own fingers. My head a wild tangle
full of creatures. Do you hear that—the lovely hooves
and mangled pianos? The egg I hold inside my chest,
it’s what the darkness ate. In the hot swamp,
in the battering sunlight, I tie my braid
around my neck and bury my name
until it’s silent as a jewel. Feel my salt
burn in the cracks of your lips, feel the fat
pulse of my tender throat.
It’s the shudder of beauty. No,
no the shutter. Watch me dance
on borders in this dirty dress
until my wig catches fire.


---. "The case for raising feminist boysAljazeera America, June 15, 2014.

Societally, “we teach men to distance themselves from the experiences of women and girls,” said Tony Porter, one of the organization’s co-founders. Boys aren’t encouraged to befriend girls, he said. When they do, they are teased about romantic or homosexual implications. To encourage mutual respect, however, boys and girls must be allowed the space to form meaningful bonds.


Suarez, Priscilla. "Interview with New York Times Bestselling Author Erika L. SánchezLatino Book Review, December 15, 2018. 

My primary goal was to have it reach as many young people as possible. I knew that it would speak to girls of color in particular, especially immigrant daughters. This is a common story that isnt a part of mainstream literature or media. I want to help change this.


DeGregorio, Jen. "Lessons on Expulsion by Erika L. Sánchez (Graywolf 2017): Reviewed by Jen DeGregorio, Guest ReviewerMuzzle Magazine.

In “Orchid,” she recalls, at seven years old, watching strung-out “white prostitutes / in front of the Cove Motel lean into cars,” wondering: “Aren’t blonde women supposed to be beautiful?” Amid the sorrow that pervades this collection, the question registers as a moment of dark comedy, a deft jab at the myth of white female purity spread via Barbie dolls and the media’s obsession with towheaded beauties like Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana. But the humor quickly dissolves into tragic irony as the reader remembers the trunk of that Cadillac, in which the speaker’s parents risked their lives to enter the United States, presumably to give their children a shot at the so-called American Dream.


Schoenberg, Nara. "Chicagoan Erika Sanchez: From daughter of undocumented immigrants to National Book Award finalistChicago Tribune, October 19, 2017.

At 33, the Chicago poet is having the kind of breakthrough year that brings to mind fairy godmothers and glass slippers. Her debut novel, "I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter," out this week, has already been named a finalist for the National Book Award for young people's literature. Her first book of poems, "Lessons on Expulsion" (Graywolf), was praised by The New York Times as "lush and formidable."