Sarah A. Chavez

Sarah A. Chavez (Poetry) | Tacoma, WA

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Sarah A. Chavez, a mestiza born and raised in the California Central Valley, is the author of two collections of poetry, the debut full-length collection Hands That Break & Scar (Sundress Publications, 2017) and All Day, Talking (Dancing Girl Press, 2014), a selection of which won the Susan Atefat Peckham Fellowship. named her one of the 2016 Top Ten “New” Latino Authors to Watch (and Read). Chavez holds a PhD in English with a focus in poetry and Ethnic Studies from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in the anthologies Xicanx: Mexican American Writers of the 21st Century , Imaniman: Poets Writing in the Anzalduan Borderlands, and Bared: An Anthology on Bras and Breasts, as well as the journals Brevity, Atticus Review, RE:AL – Regarding Arts And Letters, North American Review, Acentos Review, and The Boiler Journal, among others. She teaches at University of Washington-Tacoma and is a proud member of the Macondo Writers Workshop.


Hands that Break and Scar (Sundress Publications, 2017). Poetry.


  • All Day, Talking (Dancing Girl Press, 2014). Poetry.

Blurbs, Press & Reviews

“In language that is both achingly honest and meticulously poetic, Chavez chronicles the passage from childhood to young womanhood in California’s Central Valley, negotiating culture, language, identity, sexuality, love, and meaning. It is not that these poems reveal the secret profound nature of things—in Chavez’ world, the lines blur between violence and love, joy and struggle, memory and transcendence, the sacred and the mundane. One thing flows into another and back again. Hands That Break and Scar will leave an indelible mark on your heart, reminding you that poetry, beauty, and life are everywhere—within and without.”
—ire’ne lara silva, author of Blood Sugar Canto

“[E]ach poem spins a narrative with these details in such a spellbinding way that I can hear a voice reading to me. It’s in this narrative temperament that the magic flows through, concrete details and straight-up storytelling. I can tell you what literally happens in each poem and give you more of her words, but what I can’t explain is the feeling left behind from each last line. There’s magic at work here. Maybe not in the overt sense of spells or illusions or concoctions, but in the sense that in the physical and every day, there’s hope and vessels hungry for love and anger.”
—Review by Reyes Ramirez, Glass A Journal of Poetry

“The poems in Hands That Break and Scar work as a sort of mosaic, vividly portraying a bi-cultural, working class–and often precarious— childhood in the rough world of California’s hot Central Valley. This community is as stressed as it is vital—and children become vigilant and self-sufficient at an early age. In one poem, two children lay down together between the short walls they’ve built with their own hands from dumpster bricks, where they “gazed at the stars, held hands, and felt at home.” In another, the speaker tells us that a tattoo artist’s hands “are the only things I think about, the only things I can picture.” “I long for the heat she’ll create,” . . . For this poet, human hands can be the source of both pain and salvation, and Chavez celebrates the moments of true joy and grace to be found in simple physical acts and otherwise ordinary situations. . . This is a stunning first book, filled with brilliant images, hard truths, and honest hope.”
—Corrinne Clegg Hales, author of To Make it Right

Hands that Break and Scar demands a full reading with the senses. This collection speaks to a vivid, visceral mingling of blood that soaks deeply into the page, always nourishing the reader with is abundance of fruit, color, and its “rainbow of children.” It is a love song to the world, in spite of its dangers.”
—Jennifer Martelli, author of The Uncanny Valley

“A stunning, gritty, and beautifully irreverent collection of poems, All Day, Talking repeatedly and necessarily corrupts the conventional elegy. Chavez mourns Carole, yes, but she also mourns herself—and all of us, the tragedy of how we see (or don’t see) one another in our contradictory identities and bodies. If you want to know the honest truth about what it means to grieve and to survive, keep these poems close and listen to this “all day, talking,” which is both deeply personal and profoundly political.”
—Stacey Waite, author of Butch Geography

“The epistolary creates a knowing. Sarah A. Chavez’s collection is a resistance against forgetting, a cariño of remembrance—these poems offer tribute to one’s departed and in that offer us the need to revisit our own worlds of loss, to consider our own narratives of letters to those we’ve lost. And as Chavez’s poems shift registers, from signifieds and signifiers, it is the register of simple everyday talk about pizzas and crosswalks and tip jars, which stirs my affection for the hunger inside of us that does not want to go easily into night. I read these poems over, for they speak solace along with the inconsolable, spelling the fleeting and small grandeurs which resonate even long after a loved one has journeyed beyond—”
—Joe Jiménez, author of The Possibilities of Mud

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