Maria Isabelle Carlos

twitter: @mariacarlospoet

Maria Isabelle Carlos is a writer from Missouri, a daughter of Filipino immigrants, a sister, a proud auntie, and a dog-mom. She is the winner of the 2021 Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival Poetry Contest and the 2020 Penelope Niven Creative Nonfiction Award, and her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best New Poets, and Best of the Net. After receiving her B.A. in English from UNC-Chapel Hill as the Thomas Wolfe Scholar, Maria bartended in New Orleans for a few years before attending Vanderbilt University, where she is currently an M.F.A. student in poetry. She is the editor of Inch, a quarterly series of micro-chapbooks from Bull City Press.

Drawing inspiration from her family’s experiences living in the United States and the Philippines, Maria’s manuscript explores language, mythology, lineage, immigration, assimilation, and trauma, meditating on possibilities for healing and accountability, for reclaiming a fractured and disassociated body, identity, and history. Her recent poems interrogate the “model minority” myth, queerness, and racism in Asian American communities, and she has also been playing with a series of lyric essays about the hospitality industry. 

Lately she has been really excited about editing for Bull City Press, a small independent press in Durham NC—she began working with BCP in 2010, hand-making copies of Inch when it was still a tiny magazine of small poems and short prose; now, as editor of Inch in its revamped single-author micro-chapbook form, she cherishes learning from and lifting up an incredible editorial team, so many amazing writers, and their wonderful work. 

Maria is always savoring/cherishing poems by Toi Derricotte and Sharon Olds. Right now, she is reading and reviewing Alien Miss, Carlina Duan’s second collection, forthcoming in March. She is also revisiting books by Cathy Park Hong, Robin Wall Kimmerer, and Layli Long Soldier—just a few of the many brilliant thinkers/writers whose works are in conversation with Carlina’s.

When Maria isn’t working or napping, you might find her at home attempting to bake, listening to podcasts about poems/politics/pisces things, or walking her beloved dog, Sushi.


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