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Javier Zamora

Visiting Poet

Javier Zamora

Born in La Herradura in 1990, Javier Zamora is a Salvadoran poet and author. His father fled the country due to the US-backed Salvadoran Civil War and his mother followed suit in 1995, leaving Zamora in the care of his grandparents until he immigrated to the United States at the age of nine. His first poetry collection, Unaccompanied (Copper Canyon Press, 2017), is rooted in the experiences of a nine-year old boy traveling unaccompanied across thousands of miles and confronting the borderlands. Still while grappling with the realities of immigration, racism, and displacement; Zamora’s work offers an unflinching intimacy beginning with the very first poem “To Abuelita Neli,” in which Zamora writes, “Abuelita, I can’t go back and return. / There’s no path to papers”. Yet, even with such intimacy, the book dares the white, non-immigrant reader to “catch up”. There is no hand-holding in this collection. In his debut New York Times bestselling memoir, SOLITO (Hogarth, 2022), Javier retells his nine-week odyssey across Guatemala, Mexico, and eventually through the Sonoran Desert. He travelled unaccompanied by boat, bus, and foot. After a coyote abandoned his group in Oaxaca, Javier managed to make it to Arizona with the aid of other migrants. Zamora was a 2018-2019 Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University and holds fellowships from CantoMundo, Colgate University (Olive B. O'Connor), MacDowell, Macondo, the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation (Ruth Lilly)Stanford University (Stegner), and Yaddo. He is the recipient of a 2017 Lannan Literary Fellowshipthe 2017 Narrative Prize, and the 2016 Barnes & Noble Writer for Writers Award for his work in the Undocupoets Campaign.

About Javier

Photo by Gerardo del Valle

Poetry Center Reading: February 2024