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Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago in 1954, one of seven children. She began writing as a child, but decided to concentrate on it seriously in high school. She received a B.A. from Loyola University in Chicago, as well as an M.F.A from the University of Iowa in creative writing. She has authored books of poetry, short stories, novels, and essays. Her debut novel, The House on Mango Street, her most famous and celebrated work, was released in 1984. It has been translated into more than 20 other languages. Her debut short story collection, Woman Hollering Creek, in which “Eleven” appears, received praise and awards upon its release in 1991. Cisneros has written, and continues to write, in many genres, including full-length poetry collections like Loose Woman and My Wicked Wicked Ways, children’s books like Hairs/Pelitos and Bravo Bruno!, and novels such as Caramelo and Have You Seen Marie? Her work is wide-ranging enough, both in style and longevity, that she published a book called Vintage Cisneros in 2004 that comprises several pieces from her first several books.
In addition to her written work, Cisneros has founded two nonprofits. One is the Macondo Foundation, which is made up of a group of writers interested in community building through creativity and participation. The other group is the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation, which awarded grants to writers based in Texas from 2007-2015. She also organized Los MacArturos, a group of Latino MacArthur fellows working as community activists. Cisneros writes in both English and Spanish, with several of her books published in bilingual editions. Cisneros has dual citizenship in both the United States and Mexico, and has lived in both places, having traveled back and forth in her youth between Chicago and Mexico. Her literary papers were purchased for preservation by Texas State University in 2015.