Valentine’s Day Poet Feature: Brenda Cárdenas

Red Hen Press
3 min readFeb 14, 2023

By Lizzy Young

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! To celebrate this day of love, we are continuing our Valentine’s Day Poet series with Brenda Cárdenas! She shared two love poems that inspired her and two that she wrote.

Brenda Cárdenas is the author of Boomerang (Bilingual Press) and the chapbooks Bread of the Earth/The Last Colors with her husband Roberto Harrison; Achiote Seeds/Semillas de Achiote with Cristina García, Emmy Pérez, and Gabriela Erandi Rico; and From the Tongues of Brick and Stone. She also coedited Resist Much/Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance (Spuyten Duyvil Press) and Between the Heart and the Land: Latina Poets in the Midwest (MARCH/Abrazo Press). Cárdenas has served as faculty for the CantoMundo writers’ retreat and as Milwaukee Poet Laureate. She currently teaches Creative Writing and Latinx Literature at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The first love poem that inspired Brenda is “The Quiet World” from Jeffrey McDaniel’s collection The Forgiveness Parade.

Jeffrey McDaniel, “The Quiet World” from THE FORGIVENESS PARADE. Copyright © 1998 by Jeffrey McDaniel. Link to the poem on Poetry Foundation

The second poem Brenda chose is a poem that has never been published; a poem her husband Roberto Harrison wrote for their wedding day. It is titled “Wedding Poem.”

For her love poems, Brenda chose two she wrote for her husband Roberto from her forthcoming poetry collection, Trace. The first is titled, “Good Boots,” and the second is, “thin air.”

We are so glad Brenda shared poems between her and her husband! If you like these love poems, preorder a copy of Brenda’s forthcoming collection at this link!

Through image-rich poems regarding migration, transcultural identity, loss, connection, dream, and aging — some translingual, some ekphrastic responses to ephemeral and surreal works of art — Brenda Cárdenas’ Trace explores conditions of displacement, liminality, and mutability. These poems transgress illusory borders between lands, languages, humans and the rest of the natural world, waking and dreaming, and the living and the dead as they unearth traces of experience that shape and haunt us, traces we leave behind for others to encounter. Although elegy resurfaces throughout this collection as does a poetics of social consciousness, Cárdenas also embraces moments of levity, story, and an effervescent internal music that balance her steps through fraught yet bewitching terrain.

An abstract collection of different color shapes and bodies with the title “trace: poems by Brenda Cárdenas.”

We hope you are enjoying this Valentine’s Poet series because we love featuring our awesome poets and their incredible poetry!



Red Hen Press

Nonprofit independent literary publisher aiming to amplify unheard and underrepresented voices and improve literacy in schools.