Walker’s Welcomes Spring Visiting Writer Carmen Giménez To Campus

Written by Makayla Nowak ’25

Publisher, translator, poet, and editor Carmen Giménez is a first-generation American born in New York and author of six collections of poetry. She was named as one of Poetry Society of America’s New American Poets in 2009, won the Juniper Prize for Poetry, and received the Academy of American Poets Fellowship award in 2020. Giménez’s writing achievements extend to receiving an American Book Award for her memoir Bring Down the Little Birds: On Mothering, Art, Work, and Everything Else, and her poetry collections Milk and Filth and Be Recorder were finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award and National Book Award, respectively.

While visiting The Ethel Walker School from March 26 to March 29, 2024, Giménez engaged with the students of the Visiting Writing Seminar and shared valuable and motivational writing techniques. She explained that using a text manipulator — where the words are messily structured and grammatically challenged — is one of the key ways that she discovers new trains of thought for poetry. The students in the Seminar class were able to explore this entertaining and stimulating way of writing, which resulted in creating exciting starts to poems in a matter of minutes. On another occasion, Giménez introduced students to the concept of ordinary odes, or poems that praised ordinary items, such as socks. Odes in general are directed to important people, military, and famous individuals. However, the concept that Giménez introduced to the students engaged everyone and triggered their creativity.

Carmen Giménez’s stay at Walker’s included a radiant and illuminating evening of poetry reading. Giménez started with a poem from her fairy tale-inspired collection Goodbye, Flicker and continued with poems that were close to her immediate family members, poems about her daughter, and poems about her ill mother. During the evening, she read a few new poems that focus on health issues like cancer, and her own version of Grey’s Anatomy, which sparked an enthusiasm in the younger audience. Giménez also shared with the audience a poem about the echoes between Latin and Hindu soap operas. 

Her vibrant voice, variations of intonation, and unusual pauses gave everyone in the audience a profound experience. The poetic masterpieces that Giménez read were a fusion of poetry and autobiography, mosaics of various feelings, and collages of mixed subjects. It was a feast for the hungry souls and minds of the young Walker’s poets.