Melinda Palacio is an award-winning poet and author from South-Central Los Angeles. She studied Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley and earned a graduate degree in the same field at UC Santa Cruz. Palacio is a 2007 PEN USA Emerging Voices Rosenthal Fellow and participated in the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. In 2009, she won Kulupi Press’s Sense of Place 2009 competition for her poetry chapbook, Folsom Lockdown. Her poetry and fiction have been widely published and anthologized, including Latinos in Lotusland: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern California Literature (Bilingual Press), Southern Poetry Anthology IV: Louisiana (Texas Review Press), and the literary journal PALABRA, to name a few.
This year saw the publication of her first novel, Ocotillo Dreams (Bilingual Press), which has received critical acclaim and is the winner of several awards including the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award (which will be awarded this December in a ceremony), and the Mariposa Award for Best First Book.
And this week will see the official release of Palacio’s first full-length poetry collection, How Fire is a Story, Waiting, published by Luis J. Rodriguez’s Tía Chucha Press.
From the publisher: “Melinda Palacio’s newest poetry collection creates images that are at once heartbreaking and humorous. She tackles elemental subjects of family and childhood with the same depth and grace as that of myth making and death. As the only child of a mother who died too young, she infuses her words with longing and life, and celebrates the women who came before her. Each poem offers up the truth in a fearless and unsentimental voice. Palacio’s lyrical language punches an unexpected pause to subjects such as domestic violence and her childhood in South Central Los Angeles. How Fire Is A Story, Waiting is divided into four sections: Fire, Air, Water, and Earth. In each section Palacio tempers heartbreak, violence, and disappointment with the antidote of humor, beauty, and an appreciation for life.”
Praise for How Fire is a Story, Waiting:
“Palacio’s work is expansive, physical, funeral-wet, elevated, funny, existential, woman-story, jazzy and Pachukona. She is unafraid to dive head-on into questions of death, loss and self. Into the fiery entwined spikes of father-daughter estrangements, mother-daughter intimacies and most of all, she is ‘insomniac’ bold in this volume as an ongoing sequence on self. Melinda's collection has Bop and ‘swagger,’ lingo, song, denuncia, compassion and wild, unexpected turns—all the key ingredients and hard-won practices of a poet (and shaman) in command of her powers. I don't think there is anything like this book. ¡Brillantissima!” —Juan Felipe Herrera
“’Continue to fix broken things,’ Melinda Palacio writes in ‘Ramona Street,’ and the poems in How Fire Is a Story, Waiting are consumed with naming the problems of the world and trying—however provisionally—to set them right. Palacio's verse, dense with imagery, is by turns sorrowful and sardonic, and always the voice is her own. There's a little universe in this book: enter and learn.” —David Starkey, Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Emeritus