Jennifer Givhan is a Mexican American poet and novelist with ancestral ties to the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Indigenous peoples of the Ysleta region of El Paso, New Mexico. Givhan grew up in Southern California’s Imperial Valley to a nurse mother and high school science teacher father. At seven years old, she told her parents she was going to be a writer, to which they replied that she would go on to write the next great American novel. As she got older, however, the idea of a “great American novel” and the way they generally emphasize white, male stories became something she wanted to challenge. Though her small rural town on the Mexicali border had no real access to the greater literary community–there wasn’t much in the way of workshops or slams–her raw passion for writing would propel her toward studying literature in college where her professors would recognize and help cultivate her talent. During this time, she earned a Master’s degree in English literature and creative writing from California State University, Fullerton and an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College. Givhan’s writing is deeply entwined with her Mexican and Indigenous heritage and explores themes of family, motherhood, and female identity, often with hints of magical realism or science fiction. To date, she has published two novels and four collections of poetry, and she continues to work as a mentor through multiple nonprofits and organizations. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her family.
Photo Credit: J. Andrew Givhan