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 BorderSenses, Buffalo Carp, Black Renaissance Noire, PALABRA: a Magazine of Chicano/Latino Literary Art, Poets and Artists, the Maple Leaf Rag III and IV, La Bloga, Askew Poetry Journal, Latinos in Lotus Land: an Anthology of Contemporary Southern California Literature, Poets of the American West, Strange Cargo, El Tecolote, San Pedro River Review, Pilgrimage Magazine, Quercus Review, Eleven Eleven, the Mas Tequila Review, Hinchas de Poesia, Phati’tude Literary Magazine, 200 New Mexico Poems, the San Diego Poetry Annual, and Southern Poetry Anthology. 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. Latino Stories named her a Top Ten New Latino Author of 2012. 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. Recently, she was named a finalist for the 2014 Rita Dove Poetry Award through Salem College’s International Literary Awards.

                                            photo by Valorie Smith