Francisco X. Alarcón

American poet and faculty at the University of California, Davis

Francisco Xavier Alarcón (1954 Feb 21 – 2016 Jan 15) was a Chicano poet and educator.


  • I believe that I became a poet, a writer, when I was transcribing my grandma's songs in Mexico. I was about 15 years old. And my grandma used to sing with the mandolin a beautiful song that she used to play, and I thought at that point that she was basically singing from the old tradition of Mexico. But then I became aware that those were her own songs, but she had never written down the songs herself. So I decided to then transcribe the songs, and I would listen to her, and then write down the songs. They were very beautiful songs, in the Hispanic tradition of Guatecos and the ballads and so forth.
  • For me, a poem is not about ideas. It's never an idea that I have. It's basically an image or a sense, mostly images, that have to do with the senses, and so the five senses, and then from the image, then, you know, I have to write it down. And so, once I start writing, it's almost automatic, you know, the next line follows. It's not planning, I don't plan collections of poetry.
  • I will be reading the poetry and I will read it aloud because I will be, you know, whispering the poetry, because poetry, I really believe, has to do with a sense of communicating and the idea of reading the poem, giving life to the poem, is important, and so the old tradition is very important.

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