Francisco X. Alarcón

Francisco X. Alarcón was an award-winning poet who wrote for both children and adults. Born in Los Angeles, Califonia, he considered himself "bi-national," having spent time as a child in both Mexico and the United States. He expressed this in a poem: "I carry my roots with me all the time/Rolled up I use them as my pillow." Alarcón's poetry was inspired by songs he heard from his grandmother, which he presents for readers in both English and in Spanish.

Alarcón also spoke Nahuatl. Discover how this trilingual poet incorporated his grandmother's Nahuatl language into his work and hear him read some of his poetry in our interview below.



Francisco X. Alarcón was a bi-national, bi-cultural, trilingual poet and educator, speaking English, Spanish, and Nahuatl. His children's books vividly paint pictures of Latino culture, family, fun, and flavor. Alarcón also directed the Spanish for Native Speakers Program at the University of California, Davis.

For Alarcón, who was born in the U.S. but also lived in Guadalajara, Mexico as a child, the border didn't really exist.  Like many other Mexicans at the time, Alarcón's grandparents moved to the U.S. following the Mexican Revolution (1910-917). They returned to Mexico after the Big Depression. Alarcón's U.S. born mother and uncles returned to the U.S. in the 40s during the war effort. Alarcón worked as a migrant laborer while studying at Stanford and encouraged his siblings to continue their studies.

Alarcón died in January of 2016 following a battle with stomach cancer. 

In this Los Angeles Times obituary, his sister Esthela says, "He said he would never use a period until he died."

Other remembrances are available from NPR and NBC News.