Javier Zamora

Javier Zamora headshot.

Javier Zamora was born in La Herradura, El Salvador in 1990. His father fled El Salvador when he was a year old; and his mother when he was about to turn five. Both parents’ migrations were caused by the US-funded Salvadoran Civil War (1980-1992). In 1999, Javier migrated through Guatemala, Mexico, and eventually the Sonoran Desert. After a coyote abandoned his group in Oaxaca, Javier managed to make it to Arizona with the aid of other migrants. His first full-length collection, Unaccompanied (Copper Canyon Press, 2017), explores how immigration and the civil war have impacted his family. Zamora was a 2018-2019 Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University and holds fellowships from CantoMundo, MacDowell, the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation (Ruth Lilly), Stanford University (Stegner), and Yaddo, among others. He lives in Harlem, NY, where he’s working on a memoir and his second collection of poems, which address the current “immigration crisis.”

[Immigration Headline]

[byline]la herradura, s.v.—¿Do I have a
mother? Have her pinkie in my hand
crossing the street? Have her breath on
my hair as she sings arru-rru mi niño to
sleep. ¿Don’t you mean where? ¿What
was your question? I’m older. Think
more about memory. It makes me
crazy. Obsessed. Her warm breasts on
my belly as she knelt to tell me todo va
estar bien. I’ll never see her again was
the fear as if she’s gone, died, will never
come back. I whispered it hidden in
banana groves looking at the sky
hoping one of those planes would take
me to wherever she had left to.
Whenever Mom hung the clothes to
dry, not a cloud in the sky. I could see
her sandals picking up dust. For a
second. For a second I believe she’s
back. It went like that every day. Every
single night. I’ll never see her again. But
then, I did. Her face. Her hair. She was
the same. So much had changed. I do
not remember what it was I truly felt.

From Poetry (June 2019)



Readings & Talks Featuring Javier Zamora and Natalie Scenters-Zapico (new window) | January 26, 2021