Brief Bio 2021

Photo credit: Marina Gutiérrez

“It was not at all premeditated, I just started writing and it got out of hand.”

                                                                                            –Ana Castillo

“Ana Castillo is a poet who shaped my understanding of the boundlessness of poetry.”  

                                                      –Tyehimba Jess, Olio


Ana Castillo

Among her accolades: Recipient of PEN Oakland Reginald Lockett Lifetime Achievement Award, honoring BLACK DOVE: Mamá, Mi’jo, and Me.  2018:  MALCS (Mujeres Activistas en Letras y Cambios Social Institute)” Xicana Critical Thought Leader Award.” In 2020 Dr. Castillo was the recipient of the Northeastern Illinois University Distinguished Alumnus Award, the highest alumni honor the University bestows. It recognizes a particular achievement of note, a series of such achievements or a career of outstanding accomplishment.  Twice Lambda award recipient in fiction and non-fiction.

Among best seller titles: novels include So Far From God, The Guardians and Peel My Love like an Onion, among other poetry: I Ask the Impossible. Her novel, Sapogonia was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. She has been profiled and interviewed on National Public Radio and the History Channel and was a radio-essayist with NPR in Chicago. Ana Castillo is editor of La Tolteca 2.0 on her blog, an arts and literary zine, which features creatives of all backgrounds, while focusing on the marginalized.

Ana Castillo (June 15, 1953-) is a celebrated and distinguished poet, novelist, short story writer, essayist, editor, playwright, translator and independent scholar. Castillo was born and raised in Chicago. She has contributed to periodicals and on-line venues (Salon and Oxygen) and national magazines, including More and the Sunday New York Times. Castillo’s writings have been the subject of numerous scholarly investigations and publications.

In 2014 Dr. Castillo has held the Lund-Gil Endowed Chair at Dominican University, River Forest, IL and served on the faculty with Bread Loaf Summer Program (Middlebury College) in 2015 and 2016. She also held the first Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Endowed Chair at DePaul University 2001-06, The Martin Luther King, Jr Distinguished Visiting Scholar post at M.I.T. and was the Poet-in-Residence at Westminster College in Utah in 2012, among other teaching posts throughout her extensive career. Ana Castillo holds an M.A from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D., University of Bremen, Germany in American Studies and an honorary doctorate from Colby College. She received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for her first novel, The Mixquiahuala Letters.

Among her other awards she is the recipient of a Carl Sandburg Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in fiction and poetry. Dr. Castillo’s So Far From God and Loverboys were on the banned book list controversy with the TUSD in Arizona. 2013 Recipient of the American Studies Association Gloria Anzaldúa Prize to an independent scholar which was published in the 20th Anniversary edition of her groundbreaking collection of essays, MASSACRE OF THE DREAMERS;  Essays on Xicanisma.

Spring 2016 Publication of BLACK DOVE: Mamá, Mi’jo, and Me (Feminist Press) released to critical acclaim. It is the recent recipient of a 2016 International Latino Book Award in the category of autobiography and the recipient of the 2017 LAMBDA Award in the category of best bisexual non-fiction. Her most recent novel, GIVE IT TO ME is the recipient of the LAMBDA AWARD, 2015.

June 2015, Ana Castillo was given the Lifetime Achievement Award in literature for her “literary contributions to the Latino/a community, and commitment to the betterment of our younger generations” by Latina 50 Plus, a motivational organization based in the Bronx, NY.

The classic, award winning collection of essays 20th anniversary updated edition of Massacre of the Dreamers was released Nov. 1, 2014 (UNMP) The award winning novel in verse, WATERCOLOR WOMEN, OPAQUE MEN will be re-released Fall, 2016 by Northwestern University Press in a new edition.

WATERCOLOR WOMEN, OPAQUE MEN (novel-in-verse, Curbstone Press, 2005, recipient of Independent Publishers Book Award) was released in an updated edition by Northwestern University Press, Feb., 2017.

MY BOOK OF THE DEAD: New Poems (2012-2020) was released with the University of New Mexico, Press, September, 2021.  Castillo is currently at work on a collection of stories and a forthcoming novel.  More news to come soon.