Melinda Palacio grew up in South Central Los Angeles and now lives in Santa Barbara and New Orleans. She also writes a Friday column for La Palacio holds two degrees in Comparative Literature, a B.A. from Berkeley and an M.A. from UC Santa Cruz.  Melinda is a 2007 PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Rosenthal Fellow and a 2009 alum of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Her poetry chapbook, Folsom Lockdown, won Kulupi Press’ Sense of Place cash prize and publication, Spring 2010. Her work has been published in a wide variety of journals and anthologies, including  Askew Poetry Journal, Latinos in Lotus Land: an Anthology of Contemporary Southern California Literature, Poets of the American West, Strange Cargo, Quercus Review, Eleven Eleven, Miramar, and the Academy of American Poets. Her first novel, Ocotillo Dreams, (ASU Bilingual Press 2011) is the winner of the Mariposa Award for Best First Book at the 2012 International Latino Book Awards at the Instituto Cervantes in Manhattan and a 2012 PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles award for Excellence in Literature.  Melinda is a 2012 Glimmer Train Finalist and received an Honorable Mention in April’s Family Matter 2012 short story contest. Her first full-length poetry book, How Fire Is a Story, Waiting (Tia Chucha Press 2012) was a finalist for the Binghamton University Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award and the Paterson Poetry Prize, and won First Place in Poetry at the 2013 International Latino Book Awards at the Instituto Cervantes in Manhattan. Her work has been featured in the scholarly publication, Contemporary Chicana Literature (Re)Writing the Maternal Script and Southwestern American Literature.

                                            photo by Valorie Smith