Islander Poets Interview Series – Juan Manuel Pérez

Photo of Juan Manuel Pérez wearing face paint and Poet Laureate City of Corpus Christi, Texas 2019-2020 necklace.

Juan Manuel Pérez is an award-winning Mexican-American & Indigenous poet, Gulf War (1991) veteran, actor, former Poet Laureate of Corpus Christi (2019-2020), and author of multiple books.

In this interview, Juan spoke about his poetry and writing being grounded in his childhood growing up as a migrant farm worker and his experience learning to speak English from comic books in the 2nd grade. He described the evolution of his writing process from journaling his thoughts to his own self-taught exploration and experimentation with different poetry formats along with reading the works of other poets. Juan describes his work as focusing the themes of morals, indigenous culture, horror, and speculative content, noting that:

“Sometimes poetry is like the truth, people don’t want to hear it.”

He categorized the themes in his most recent work as Indigenous and Chicano futurism. At the conclusion of this interview, Juan read 6 of his poems from his 2020 collection, Screw the Wall! Watch the rest of the interview with Juan here.

Learn more about Juan’s work at