Moncho Ollin Alvarado
Moncho Alvarado is a Cihuayollotl trans woman Xicanx poet, translator, visual artist, and educator. She grew up in Pacoima, California. As a child listening to her family telling cuentos, she dreamed of someday writing down their stories of immigration, community, and the challenges and joys that come along with both. In tenth grade, she read Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima. She discovered in it a reflection of the brown and Indigenous people in her family and their cultural practices, and she was inspired to seek out other writers in whose work she could see herself, such as Sandra Cisneros and Luis Rodriguez.
While in high school, Alvarado recorded her lived experience of queerness and her family’s struggles in her journal, conceptualizing the poems that would later become her full-length debut. She earned her BA, then attended the MFA in Writing program at Sarah Lawrence College, where she worked with poets including Tina Chang, Aracelis Girmay, Cathy Park Hong, Marie Howe, and Monica Youn.
Alvarado is the author of Greyhound Americans, published by Saturnalia Book in 2022. This collection was selected by Diane Seuss as the winner of the 2020 Saturnalia Book Prize, and described by Seuss as “brilliantly queer, inclusive, cosmic, and compassionate.” Drawing from the poet’s personal and ancestral history, Greyhound Americans bears witness to both a legacy of violence and injustice and to the abiding tenderness of familial love. Alvarado’s poetry has also been published in The Rumpus, Dryland, Meridian, Michigan Quarterly Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Foglifter, Lunch Ticket, 2018 Emerge Lambda Fellows Anthology, Poets.org, and other publications.
A Pushcart-nominated poet, Alvarado has won the Academy of American Poet’s John B. Santoianni award for excellence in poetry. She is a recipient of fellowships and residencies from the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, Lambda Literary, Poets House, Troika House, and the Summer Seminar at Sarah Lawrence College. She has also been awarded the Thomas Lux Scholarship for dedication to teaching, recognizing her work in youth writing workshops at Sunnyside Community Services in Queens, New York.
Alvarado has worked as Operations Associate at arts and community nonprofit The Laundromat Project since 2019. She spends time both in Queens with her partner and in Pacoima with her family.
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Photo by Matthew Thompson.