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Official Website of Poet, Essayist, Editor, and Educator

Poetry Collection TRACE: Poems

April 18, 2023
Red Hen Press
about brenda

Brenda Cárdenas is the author of Trace (Red Hen Press, 2023), winner of The 2023 Society of Midland Authors Poetry Award and finalist for  the 2023 Foreword Review Indie Poetry Award; Boomerang (Bilingual Press, 2009); and the chapbooks Bread of the Earth/The Last Colors with Roberto Harrison, Achiote Seeds/Semillas de Achiote with Cristina García, Emmy Pérez, and Gabriela Erandi Rico; and From the Tongues of Brick and Stone. She also co-edited Resist Much/Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance (Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2017) and Between the Heart and the Land: Latina Poets in the Midwest (MARCH/Abrazo Press, 2001), which won the Chicago Women in Publishing first place award for excellence in editing. Her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in an array of anthologies and journals, including POETRY; Latinx Poetics: The Art of Poetry; Braving the Body; Prairie Schooner; Good River Review; TAB: Journal of Poetry and Poetics; Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations; Grabbed: Poets and Writers on Sexual Assault, Empowerment, and Healing; Court Green; Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Anthology; The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry; Through This Door: Wisconsin in Poems; and many others. 

Cárdenas has enjoyed collaborating on inter-arts projects with musicians, visual artists, and choreographers. Composer Daniel Afonso (California State University) recently wrote choral music to her "Poema para los Tin-Tun-Teros," and the score was published in 2023 by Hal Leonard, the largest U.S. music publisher (Listen here). It was also performed in 2024 at New York's Carnegie Hall. Cárdenas and artist Cynthia Lollis contributed to Mind the Gap, an ekphrastic portfolio of print/poem exchanges edited by Tim Abel and Sara Parr in 2013. In 2009, Kyle Jenkins created a film animation of Cárdenas’ poem “Song” for Poetry Everywhere sponsored by the Poetry Foundation, and in 2008, Kelly Anderson choreographed a dance to her poem “Sonnet for Thunder Lovers and Primary Colors” for Dance Works Performance Company’s The Bra Project. In 2001, with the band Sonido Ink(quieto), Cárdenas recorded the spoken word and music CD Chicano, Illnoize: The Blue Island Sessions.

Cárdenas served as faculty for the 2021 CantoMundo writers’ retreat and as the 2010-2012 Milwaukee Poet Laureate. In 2014, she co-designed and co-taught the inaugural master workshop for Pintura:Palabra: A Project in Ekphrasis sponsored by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Letras Latinas (Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame). She currently teaches Creative Writing and U.S. Latinx Literatures at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she has won a University of Wisconsin System Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award and the English Department’s Faculty Graduate Teaching Award. She lives in Milwaukee with her husband, the poet Roberto Harrison and their dog Maya.

BOOKS & Edited Anthologies

Trace: Poems

Boomerang: Poems

From the Tongues of Brick and Stone

Between the Heart and the Land: Latina Poets in the Midwest


Resist Much/Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance

My Books
IN THE PRESS + praise

“This book [TRACE: Poems] is an ofrenda. With an astonishing awareness of the particular and the everlasting, Trace by Brenda Cárdenas plunges us into the mythic through tales of what is utterly real. These poems take on the healing of soul and the meaning of home. The poetry of Cárdenas is nothing less than the intermingling of the traces of what is spiraling around us and what lay beyond. I highly recommend it.”

—Robin Reagler, author of Night Is This Anyway, Into The The, and Teeth and Teeth

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