Benjamín Alire Sáenz studied at St. Thomas Seminary in Denver Colorado, the University of Louvain in Louvain, Belgium, the University of Texas at El Paso, the University of Iowa and Stanford University where he was a Wallace E. Stegner fellow in poety. While at Stanford, he also pursued his doctoral studies in American Literature. He has studied philosophy, art history, theology, creative writing and literary studies with a focus on twentieth century American poetry.
His first collection of poetry, Calendar of Dust, was honored with an American Book Award in 1991. The following year he was awarded a Lannan Literary Poetry Fellowship. His second collection of poems, Dark and Perfect Angels, won a Southwest Book Award from the Border Librarians Association. In 2002, his third book of poems, Elegies in Blue was published by Cinco Puntos Press and was nominated for an L.A. Times Book Prize. Copper Canyon press published his fourth book of poems, Dreaming the End of War in the Spring of 2006. His latest book of poems, The Book of What Remains was published in 2010 by Copper Canyon Press. His poetry has been widely anthologized and he has ben included in Twentieth Century American Poetry edited by Dana Gioia.
His first book of fiction, a collection of short stories, Flowers for the Broken, was published in 1992. His critically acclaimed first novel, Carry Me Like Water, was published in 1995 by Hyperion and was also awarded a Southwest Book Award. The novel was re-issued by HarperCollins and was awarded a Latino Literary Award for Best Novel in 2006. Carry Me Like Water has appeared in translation in Dutch and in German. His second novel, The House of Forgetting, was published two years later and has been translated into German and French. In 2006, his third novel, In Pefect Light was published by Rayo/HarperCollins and was simultaneously published in a Spanish language translation, En el tieimpo del la luz. His fourth novel, Names on a Map was published by HarperPerennial in 2008.
Saenz has also published four bilingual children’s books, A Gift From Papa Diego (now in its sixth printing); Grandma Fina’s Wonderful Umbrella (1999 Best Children’s Book, Texas Institute of Letters); A Perfect Season for Dreaming (2008 Paterson Book Prize, 2008 Best Children's Book, Austin Pulbic Library); and The Dog Who Loved Tortillas.
In 2005, Cinco Puntos Press published his first young adult novel, Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood. The novel was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and won the Americas Book Award, The Paterson Prize, and the JHunt Award. Sammy and Juliana was also named one of the top ten Young Adult novels by the American Library Association and was also named one of the top books of the year by the Center for Children's Books, Captial Choices, The New York Public Library and the Miami Herald. HarperCollins has just released Sammy and Juliana in a paperback edition and has been released as an audio book from Listening Library (Random House). His second young adult novel, He Never Said Goodbye, was published by Simon & Schuster and won the Tomas Rivera Award in 2009. His most recent young adult novel, Last Night I sang to the Monster has won critical acclaim will be published by Simon and Schuster in the summer of 2008. His next young adult novel, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is forthcoming from Simon and Schuster.
Reviews of his work have appeared in The Washington Post Book World, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, Entertainment Weekly, The Seattle Times, The Dallas Morning News, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Los Angeles Times, The San Diego Telegraph, Latin American Literature in Review, Booklist, KIrkus Reviews, Publisher's Weekly, School Libray Journal, The Texas Observor, Texas Monthly, The San Antoino Express News, The Austin American Statesman, The El Paso Times, The Harvard Review, The Albuquerque Journal, The Denver Post, and People en Espanol.
Saenz has been a member of the faculty at the University of Texas at El Paso since 1992 and is currently at work on a new book of poems, Night Disappearing into a Patient Sky. He is a member of PEN, the Academy of American Poets and AWP.
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