Jon Pineda


Poet, memoirist, and novelist Jon Pineda earned his BA from James Madison University and an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. His first collection of poetry, Birthmark (2004), won the Crab Orchard Award Series in Poetry Open Competition. Selected by Ralph Burns, the book received praise for its complex evocation of memory, childhood, and loss. His other collections include The Translator’s Diary (2008), winner of the Green Rose Prize, and Little Anodynes (2015), winner of the 2016 Library of Virginia Literary Award for poetry. 

 Pineda's memoir, Sleep in Me (2010), was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, a Library Journal Best Book of 2010, and a Publishers Weekly “Indie Sleepers” Pick. He is also the author of the novels Apology (2013), which won the Milkweed National Fiction Prize, and Let's No One Get Hurt (2018).  Pineda’s honors and awards include a Virginia Commission for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship. He has taught in the Kundiman Asian American Writers Retreat, the low-residency MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte, Old Dominion University, and the University of Mary Washington. Currently, he teaches creative writing at the College of William and Mary and lives in Virginia with his wife and children. Source 

My Sister, Who Died Young, Takes Up The Task

A basket of apples brown in our kitchen,

their warm scent is the scent of ripening,


and my sister, entering the room quietly,

takes a seat at the table, takes up the task


of peeling slowly away the blemished skins,

even half-rotten ones are salvaged carefully.


She makes sure to carve out the mealy flesh.

For this, I am grateful. I explain, this elegy


would love to save everything. She smiles at me,

and before long, the empty bowl she uses fills,


domed with thin slices she brushes into

the mouth of a steaming pot on the stove.


What can I do? I ask finally. Nothing,

she says, let me finish this one thing alone.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Death & Loss


Literary Devices:


conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or movie

Extended Metaphor

a metaphor that extends through several lines or even an entire poem


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work

Sensory Detail

words used to invoke the five senses (vision, hearing, taste, touch, smell)