Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Benjamin Alire Saenz was born in 1954 in Old Picacho, New Mexico, and raised on a small farm near Mesilla, New Mexico. Saenz was an ordained Roman Catholic priest for a few years in El Paso, Texas, before leaving the order. In 1985, he studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) where he earned a master's degree. Saenz's young adult novels are taught in many secondary schools and universities across the country. The students are spirited with curiosity about Professor Saenz: the writer who brings to digital and print pages adolescent characters who become like family to them in the canon of young adult literatures. Although the students know Saenz as a gifted and talented writer across genres and audiences, they possess a mixture of awe, confidence, and even uncertainty when approaching him. Saenz's poem "To the Desert" rings true to communicate a writing life deep in language and literary study.