Appearance on Latino USA on NPR

I’m so pleased to have been interviewed by Maria Hinojosa for Latino USA on NPR. Please listen to our conversation about Latina Sex Stereotypes:

For Latina women it can often seem like there are only two types of representation they see in the media. They’re either sexy and “spicy” or religious and family oriented. But is that really the case?

Latino USA host Maria Hinojosa speaks to writer, poet, and sex columnist for Cosmo for Latinas, Erika L. Sánchez about growing up in a “traditional” Mexican family while being an American girl, feminism, and facing fear.



Discovery Reading and Poem in Boston Review

I’m so honored to have been chosen along with such talented women for the Discovery/”Boston Review” Contest. Here are two pictures from that incredible night as well as my poem published in the Boston Review.


Julia Guez, Eileen Myles, Raena Shirali, Timothy Donnelly, Erika L Sánchez and Catherine Blauvelt



Summer boredom flutters its
sticky wings. You guzzle
cooking wine, gag on the old whiskey
you find in the pantry.
In the warmth of your bedroom,
you pierce your navel
with a safety pin, slice
the skin you hide beneath
your billowy dresses. Glitter-eyed
in the murky dance clubs,
you snort blow until the dregs
trickle down your throat and
shock your sluggish heart.
You dance in the frenetic
lights, the untz untz vibrating
your face and skull until
morning. But everywhere,
the pain suckles you. Everywhere,
you hold its lumpy head to your breast
like a saint. A fat man in a basement
tattoos a scraggly moon
on your hip, anything to smother
the soft and constant vertigo, to stitch
a spirit so riddled with leeches.
Some evenings you brim
with the sky’s quiet bruising—
colors as beautiful as the spilled
brains of a bird. Such a fucked
holiness, you think. Weeping,
you read Walt Whitman—the blow,
the quick loud word,
the tight bargain, the crafty
lure. You hold a mirror to study
your tender socket. May we eat
and drink in remembrance
of the body. Oh how the salt sings.
One morning you cut your hair
slowly then shear it altogether.
Whether that which appears
so is so, or is it all flashes
and specks? In that slurry
of August, the silence climbs you
like a man until you hear
the meaty flaps of God inside you.

“Discovery”/Boston Review Prize

Last week, I received the wonderful news that I was selected as one of the winners of the “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize. I am thrilled and honored to have been chosen.  I can’t wait to go to New York to read my work and meet the judges and other winners. This is the kind of thing I’ve been dreaming about since I was a young girl. I literally jumped up and down after I received the phone call.  I am very honored. Here is the description from the 92Y Unterberg Poetry Center:

Now in its sixth decade, the “Discovery” Poetry Contest is designed to attract large audiences to poets who have not yet published a book. For this sixth year, the 92Y Unterberg Poetry Center is proud to partner with Boston Review.

Many winners of this contest have gone on to distinguished careers as poets, among them John Ashbery, Lucille Clifton, Nick Flynn, David St. John and Rosanna Warren.

The four winners of the 2013 contest are Catherine Blauvelt, of Iowa City, IA; Raena Shirali, of Columbus, OH; Julia Guez, of New York, NY; and Erika L. Sánchez, of Chicago, IL.

The three runners-up are Natalie Scenters-Zapico, of Albuquerque, NM; and Armand Pierrot and Danniel Schoonebeek, both of New York, NY.

Preliminary judges were Greg Pardlo and Timothy Donnelly, poetry editor at Boston Review. Final judges were Eileen Myles, Bruce Smith and Juan Felipe Herrera.

Eileen Myles is the author of eighteen collections of poetry, fiction and nonfiction including Sorry, Tree; Chelsea Girls; Inferno (A Poet’s Novel); and Snowflakes/Different Streets. She’s the recipient of a Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, a Warhol/Creative Capital art writing grant and a Guggenheim fellowship.

Juan Felipe Herrera is the author of Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry and the PEN/Beyond Margins Award. He is currently the California Poet Laureate and a Chancellor at the Academy of American Poets.

Bruce Smith is the author of The Other Lover, a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and Devotions, winner of the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. He was selected as a winner of the 1982 “Discovery” Prize. The judges were Galway Kinnell, Paul Zweig and Mei-mei Berssenbrugge.

Poem “La Cueva” in The Southeast Review

La Cueva

    Chicago, IL


The beautiful women swing
        their hips

like eternal bells.    With pink, histrionic mouths

        they sing: Who is this

in the mirror? Why won’t you love me?  Why won’t you

        let me be?

The costumes are small eruptions—
        fabrics twisted and

impossibly stitched—

                 a geisha bride, a cowgirl princess.

In the more unforgiving lights, the synthetic

        yellow wigs startle the brown clay

of skin. Briefly, we see

the soft traces

            of their shrouded youth,

how skillfully they’ve learned


         to wipe the smeared mirrors

inside them.


In the teeth

            of their gaze,
the men with the factory hands

raise their palms

        to the hormone-softened

faces— a love

        flimsy as a wet yellow dress.

They will bend

like flowers for them.



The winter frost of eyelids

in the darkness: hands

            dig for a swelling cock

reaching skyward. The matronly breasts

        hang low and exhausted,

though there can’t be children

to suckle them.

The body
        is not a hieroglyph,
but a triumph.


In the morning, the men will rise

for mass. With their wives,
they will sing

            ¡El Señor resucitó!
And as they clap their hands aleluya,

the smell,
            that singular funk

that springs from the body,

            will weep

from their callused palms.