Sandra Cisneros (born December 20, 1954) is an American writer best known for her acclaimed first novel The House on Mango Street (1984) and her subsequent short story collection Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories
For high school, Cisneros attended Josephinum Academy, a small Catholic all-girls school. Here she found an ally in a high-school teacher who helped her to write poems about the Vietnam War. Although, Cisneros had written her first poem around the age of ten, with her teacher's encouragement she became known for her writing throughout her high-school years.In high school she wrote poetry and was the literary magazine editor, but, according to herself, she did not really start writing until her first creative writing class in college in 1974.
Cisneros was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola University Chicago in 1976, and received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1978. It was while attending the Workshop that Cisneros discovered how the particular social position she occupied gave her writing a unique potential.
Cisneros had periodically written poems and stories while growing up, but it was the frustrations she encountered at the Writer's Workshop that inspired Cisneros' realization that her experiences as a Latina woman were unique and outside the realm of dominant American culture. Thus, Cisneros decided to write about conflicts directly related to her upbringing, including divided cultural loyalties, feelings of alienation, and degradation associated with poverty. These specific cultural and social concerns, coupled with Cisneros' feelings of alienation as a Latina writer, came to life five years later in The House on Mango Street (1983).
In addition to writing, Cisneros has taught at the Latino Youth Alternative High School in Chicago and has been a college recruiter and counselor for minority students at Loyala University of Chicago. She served as literature director for the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio, Texas, and was an artist in residence at the Foundation Michael Karolyi in Vence, France. She has been a guest professor at
California State University, University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Irvine, Univerity of Michigan, Ann Arbor and the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Cisneros is also a member of PEN and Mujeres por la Paz, a women's peace group which helps organize.
(1980), Bad Boys
(1984), The House on Mango Street
(1991), Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories
(2002), Caramelo, or, Puro cuento
She explains, "I rejected what was at hand and emulated the voices of the poets I admired in books: big male voices like James Wright and Richard Hugo and Theodore Roethke, all wrong for me."