writer. movement builder
Jen Soriano (she~they) is a Filipinx writer and movement builder who has long worked at the intersection of grassroots organizing, narrative strategy, and art-driven social change. Jen has won the International Literary Award for Creative Nonfiction, the Fugue Prose Prize, and fellowships from Hugo House, Vermont Studio Center, Artist Trust, and the Jack Jones Literary Arts Retreat. Jen is also an independent scholar and performer, author of the chapbook “Making the Tongue Dry,” and co-editor of Closer to Liberation: A Pina/xy Activist Anthology. She received a BA in History and Science from Harvard and an MFA in fiction and nonfiction from the Rainier Writing Workshop. Jen is also a co-founder of the cultural democracy institutions, MediaJustice and ReFrame. Originally from a landlocked part of the Chicago area, Jen now lives with her family in Seattle, near the Duwamish River and the Salish Sea. Her debut book, Nervous: Essays on Heritage and Healing, is now available from Amistad/HarperCollins.
About Their Work:
You can count on Jen Soriano to cut effortlessly between memory and history, between the everyday and the momentous, and to discover the complex moral threads that ties all the scenes of her cinematic essays together. The piece I read before writing this introduction, “Blow,” does it again, moving from a child on broken pavement to the cocaine trade in the Mission to the atomic bomb to dandelions in a way that would be breathtaking if it didn’t seem just so obvious and right. Soriano’s essays may not always give us easy answers—her pieces aren’t self- improvement bromides for 10-step ethical living. But they take us through a kind of moral kinesthetics that makes us think and think again. We feel we’ve been places, done things and seen what is and isn’t, emerging with a sharpness of mind to match the writing.
--Dave Karp (11/18/2023)
"I write to get closer to emotional truths that gnaw at me" Jen confesses in an online interview, and it's those truths that gnaw at us as her lushly lyric essays wind in and through time to tie together emotional truths that are often complicated, and sometimes ugly, but also often beautiful and deep. In these fragmented essays that explore the often ignored and dismissed pain experienced by those who don't fit so easily into diagnosed boxes, Jen takes a deep look at "our own roles in perpetuating or breaking old cycles, the long perpetuated "histories of silencing and erasure" that only the lucky survive "of wilted others/Resourced to navigate the labyrinth of disease". And lucky for us, Jen navigates that space free of cynicism and full of honesty and a love of multiplicity, so that we might be able to see beyond the simple, monolithic answers and solutions to a future that allows us all to find a little more life and freedom from the pain.
--Matt Trease (05/20/2021)
Books (for purchase):
Read for Margin Shift: