Tamez, Margo 1962–

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Tamez, Margo 1962–


Born January 28, 1962, in Austin, TX; daughter of Luis Carrasco, Jr., and Eloisa Garcia Tamez. Ethnicity: Lipan-Jumano Apache, Spanish. Education: University of Texas, B.A. (archaeological studies), 1984, B.A. (art history), 1985; Arizona State University, M.F.A., 1997.


Office— American Studies Program, Washington State University, P.O. Box 644013, Pullman, WA 99164-4013. E-mail— [email protected]


Environmental-social justice activist, poet, scholar.


Literature Fellowship, poetry, Arizona Commission on the Arts, 1999; Distinguished Achievement, Alice Longan Writing Awards, 1999; Professional Development Award, Arizona Commission on the Arts, 2000; Fellowship, American Studies Program, Washington State University, 2005-06; Gendered Research Across the Campuses (GRACe) Scholar, Washington State University, 2005-07.



Alleys and Allies, Saddle Tramp Press, 1991.

Naked Wanting, University of Arizona Press (Tucson, AZ), 2003.

The Daughter of Lightning, Kore Press, 2006.

Raven Eye, University of Arizona Press (Tucson, AZ), 2007.

Contributor to anthologies, including Dancing the Guns to Silence: 100 Poems for Ken Saro-Wiwa, Flipped Eye Publications and SableLit Magazine,2005; and Entre Guadalupe y Malinche: A Tejana Anthology of Literature and Art, University of Texas Press. Contributor of prose and poetry to various publications, including Orion, Wild Thoughts: An Online Journal of Environmental Writing, Los Angeles Review, and the Peace Review.


Poet Margo Tamez was born in Austin, Texas, and grew up in San Antonio, the daughter of Eloisa Garcia Tamez, who was part Lipan-Apache and part Spanish, from Calaboz, Texas, and Luis Carrasco Tamez, Jr., who was part Jumano-Apache and part Spanish. Her distinctive background made her extremely aware of the civil rights movement that flourished during her youth, as well as the political issues surrounding the Vietnam War. The social upheaval had a permanent impact on the way she looked at issues such as racism, inequity, and social injustice, both as it affected her and others. As a child raised in an environment where her own and her family's racial makeup was different from that of most of her neighbors—not white, not Mexican, not Indian—she became hyperaware of the need to maintain her identity and demand respect and equality regardless of what her background was. Her mother encouraged her to become well educated, stressing that only by making use of those advantages shared by the more dominant cultures would she ever be ac-cepted and allowed to speak for her own point of view. Tamez took her mother's advice, studying at the University of Texas and earning two undergraduate degrees, one in archaeological studies and one in art history. She later went on to earn a master of fine arts degree in poetry from Arizona State University. Among a number of honors that have been bestowed upon her are a poetry fellowship from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and a senior fellowship for the Environmental Leadership Program. She is also a fellow in the American Studies Program at Washington State University, where she is working toward her doctoral degree, and served as the 2005-07 GRACe Scholar (Gendered Research Across the Campuses). Tamez works through her poetry to heighten awareness of the cultures and rights of indigenous people, and to bring social and environmental justice to the forefront at a community level, particularly across borders.

Although she acknowledges strong literary roots in the mythology and storytelling traditions of her culture, Tamez fights against the assumption that these fairy tales are all they have to offer, and encourages work that flows from cultural and social issues and are firmly based in reality. She has published several volumes of such poetry, including the chapbook Alleys and Allies, Naked Wanting, and Raven Eye. Naked Wanting offers readers a collection of poems linked to nature and stressing the ways in which human beings are out of step with the natural world around them. Tamez's strong interest in ecology and preserving the environment peeks through some of the poems, while other works are more subtle and challenge the reader's perceptions of normality. In "Inhaling Two Worlds," a pregnant woman driving a car finds herself all but joined with the vehicle, trapped by the technology that is supposed to simplify her existence. Visceral, shocking images are the focus of "A Speed Zone, Inside Out," where the narrator stops by the side of the road where a raven is dying and, rather than saving it or putting it out of its misery, proceeds to rip off its wings and take its heart. Jarret Keene, in a review for the Tucson Weekly Web site, commented of the collection: "Sure, there are missteps.… But these are few and far between the larger greatness that Tamez offers.…Naked Wanting is a book we hunger for and yearn to wrap around us like a blanket."

The poems in Raven Eye take a more personal turn and focus on the social and racial issues that concern Tamez. Women and children, in particular, struggle to find their place in the world within the context of her poems, and simple places such as borders take on grander meanings. Patricia Monaghan, in a review for Booklist, observed that "there isn't yet a poetics to confine Tamez, for she writes of and from a hybrid identity."



Booklist, March 15, 2007, Patricia Monaghan, review of Raven Eye, p. 16.


Blog Critics,http://blogcritics.org/ (April 22, 2007), Lisa Alvarado, "Interview: Conspiring with Poet Margo Tamez."

Environment Leadership Program,http://www.elpnet.org/ (December 6, 2007), author profile.

Internet Public Library Web site,http://www.ipl.org/ (December 6, 2007), author profile.

Tucson Weekly,http://www.tucsonweekly.com/ (August 28, 2003), Jarret Keene, "Shoot the Message."

Washington State University Web site,http://libarts.wsu.edu/ (December 6, 2007), academic profile.

Wild Thoughts,http://www.wildthoughts.org/ (April 1, 2006), author profile.

Yakima Valley Community College Web site,http://www.yvcc.edu/ (December 6, 2007), "2007-2008 Diversity Series: Challenging Diversity—Challenging Our Thinking."