Alessandra Narváez Varela is a poet and teacher born and raised in Ciudad Juárez, México.
Her first book, Thirty Talks Weird Love, a young-adult novel in verse, will be published in January 2021 by Cinco Puntos Press.
She has published her poetry in Huizache, Acentos Review, Duende, The Normal School and TAYO. She was featured in “Seeking a Voice, Via a Bilingual M.F.A., in Writing and in Life,” an article in the New York Times Education Life section, where she spoke of her experience as a bilingual poet who writes mostly in English, instead of Spanish, her native tongue. Her, a chapbook, was published by the University of Houston, the Department of Hispanic Studies.
She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso, where she is now a lecturer.
My name is Alessandra, not Alejandra, Alexandra or Alexksandra. I mention this because you might call me by one of those beautiful names. I say, just call me Ale. My two last names come from my dad and mom, respectively. You might mispronounce the first one whether you’re an English or Spanish speaker. No worries. I hope we can get on a first-name basis.
I was born and raised in Ciudad Juárez known to Juan Gabriel and juarenses as la “frontera más bella del mundo.” I live in El Paso, Texas, Juaritos’ sister city on the other side of El Río Bravo.
I am a bilingual woman who writes primarily in English and sometimes, Spanglish, not en español, mi primer idioma. This used to make me feel like a traitor, like a weird bug. I am now fully proud, completamente orgullosa of my bilingual chops.
I am a poet that suffers from mamitis, papitis, Paulitis and an addiction to film, sweets and flaxseed milk. Itis means inflammation, but here, itis means adoration of and a dependence on mother, father and Paul, my partner in crime and love.
I am also a teacher that suffers and rejoices from studentitis and studentphilia. My students—from high-school (when I was a tutor), to college, and most recently, elementary school—are a lifeline and I love them. Teaching creative writing since I was a graduate student has been a bendición. Teaching is a dream I didn’t know I had.
If you haven’t noticed already I have a thing for suffixes: I learned about etymology when I was a teenager because I was going to be a doc. I actually studied medicine for a little while but things didn’t work out. El coco, the boogeyman, named depression, got me good and I had to leave that path. I still love all things biology and chemistry. The Periodic Table is my biggest crush.
Thirty Talks Weird Love is about this girl, Anamaria, and her life in her beloved Ciudad Juárez. She’s obsessed with grades, and goes to a school that is also obsessed with grades. Bad mix, wouldn’t you say? This results in dreaming death dreams, knuckle rashes, and bad hair. She does get to meet Thirty, a lady who says comes from the future, and who says all kinds of weird, corny things.
Anamaria and I are doppelgangers, not twins: she’s braver than me, but she has less of a sense of humor than I do. I started writing her story on one sleepless night in a Composition book.