Amy M. Alvarez


Amy M. Alvarez is a poet, educator, and scholar. Her work focuses on race, ethnicity, gender, regionality, nationality, borderless-ness, and systemic injustice/social justice. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Crazyhorse, The Missouri Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, PRISM international, Rattle, Sugar House Review, and elsewhere. She is both a CantoMundo and a VONA Fellow. Amy was born and raised in Queens, New York to a Jamaican mother and Puerto Rican father. She has taught English, History, and Humanities at public high schools in the Bronx, New York and in Boston, Massachusetts. She now lives in Morgantown, West Virginia and teaches writing at West Virginia University. You can find more information at:

For me, being Afro-Latinx is to move between worlds and to combat stereotypes from without and within. For me, being Afro-Latina is growing up with one side of my family telling me that I was too dark and to stay out of the sun and the other saying that Black is beautiful. To be Afro-Latinx is to filter every message from those around me about my skin, hair, the shape of my nose, through burgeoning self-love. It is seeing my dark skinned grandmothers reflected in the mirror each morning. It is to celebrate daily that my ancestors survived the horrors of the middle passage, of enslavement on sugar plantations, and the loss of their languages. It is to carry the burden of making their wildest dreams come true in a world that still does not want to see me as fully human. 

Right now, to be Afro-Latinx is to live in a constant state of rage, terror, sorrow, and hope. These poems are evidence of those emotional states.


have you knelt on hot 
asphalt in summer ever
your knees indented
by gravel or another’s 
flesh & did your hips
knees ankles back calves
ever indicate it was time 
to shift change position  

or get the hell up? 

to kneel for nearly nine
minutes is a feat of wrath
& discipline—how much  
must you hate your own body

or that of the human being 
whose neck cradles your patella
to stay there as every tendon
& sinew in your body says
as the person beneath you says
they cannot breathe? 

lighting candles on my stoop/watching the wind snuff them out

I keep thinking about Breonna Taylor asleep/ between fresh sheets/ I keeping thinking/ about her skin cooling after a shower/ about her hair wrapped in a satin bonnet/ I think about what she may have dreamed that night/ keep thinking about her bedroom/ whether she had painted it recently/ argued with her partner about the undertones in the paint/ this one more blue/ this one more pink/ that she may have felt more at home now that she had chosen the color on the walls/ I keep thinking about how she could use her hands to keep blood moving through a human heart/ how she could use her hands to stanch the flow of blood until platelets arrived/ I wonder how many times she heard/ thank you for saving/ please save/ I wonder how many nights she could/ I keep thinking about her when I lie in bed at night/ when I wake up and look in the mirror/ when I walk to my front door/ I keep thinking about the life she wanted to build/ whether she had her eye on a ring and was dropping hints to the man who chose to protect her/ whether he was working on it/ whether it was in his sock drawer already as he waited for the right time/ I keep wondering why a black woman’s death alone can’t begin the revolution/ whether the sweet smoke rising to the heavens across this nation is offering enough/










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