Iliana Rocha was born and raised in Texas. She earned an MFA at Arizona State University, where she was poetry editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review, and her PhD in English literature and creative writing from Western Michigan University. Her debut collection, Karankawa (2015), won an AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and a Society of Midland Authors Award. In the Rumpus, poet Rigoberto González described it as “a book that honors the dead, the past, and the history of the foundations—culture, family, memory—upon which the living build their futures, and experience their bittersweet todays.” Speaking to the multiple layers and levels of history, surfaces, and narratives of her work, Rocha told the Sonora Review, “For me, poetry is always in motion—it lives and breathes in the subconscious at all times, a perpetual Dia de los Muertos parade. It resists the law of inertia. Poetry is best when it is processionary, when you cannot help but keep it close and take it with you wherever you go.”
Rocha is currently assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Central Oklahoma.