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Poet and PEN International President to Read Her Work at Bellas Artes

By Maia Williams

Poetry Alive! is an annual celebration of a distinguished poet scheduled to present a keynote address at the San Miguel Writers’ Conference (Feb 13–17). The tradition of the volunteer advisory board reading selected poetic works in English and Spanish began with poets Billy Collins in 2017 and Rita Dove in 2018.

This year, Jennifer Clement will present her own poems in English and Spanish on February 7.

Clement, elected president of PEN International, the first woman to win the position since the organization’s founding in 1921, studied English literature and anthropology at New York University and French literature in Paris. She has an MFA in fiction from the Stonecoast program at the University of Southern Maine. She has published four books of poetry, including The Next Stranger (with an introduction by W.S. Merwin). Clement is the author of four novels: Prayers for the Stolen, A True Story Based on Lies, The Poison That Fascinates, and Gun Love.

Prayers for the Stolen was a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice book, a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist, and winner of the Gran Prix des Lectrices (Elle Magazine) 2015, an NEA Fellowship, and the Sara Curry Humanitarian Award. The novel appeared internationally on many “Best Books of the Year” lists, including The Irish Times. Clement was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for Gun Love. Her books have been translated into 30 languages.

She is also the author of Widow Basquiat, the acclaimed memoir about the painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, set in New York in the 1980s. Artforum’s Glenn O’Brien described this work as, “magical … The life of Basquiat … is a joyous lightning bolt when it is described in true detail, as it is in Clement’s extraordinary as-told-to poem.” NPR rated it one of the best books of 2015 in seven different categories.

From 2009 to 2012, Clement was president of PEN México, and her work focused on the disappearance and killing of journalists. She and her sister, Barbara Sibley, are the founders and directors of San Miguel Poetry Week. Clement lives in México City and is a member of Mexico’s prestigious Sistema Nacional de Creadores.

Clement’s keynote address at the San Miguel Writers’ Conference is Thursday, February 14th, at 6:30 pm at the Hotel de Real Minas. It is entitled “Sex Trafficking, Heroin and Guns: Writing the Social Novel.” Tickets are available at

Founded in January 2016, Poetry Café Bellas Artes meets monthly, September through April. This all-volunteer organization features local and visiting poets (established and emerging) sharing original work in a casual setting. Three poets with local ties, Leona DeFehr, Anado McLauchlin, and Laura Juliet Wood, will present their poems Thursday, February 21, from 5–6 pm.

Please arrive early. Seating is limited.



Poetry Café Bellas Artes presents

“Poetry Alive! Celebrates Jennifer Clement”

Thu, Feb 7, 5–6pm

Sala Literaria, First Floor

Bellas Artes

Hernández Macías 75

100 pesos suggested donation

Jennifer Clement


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