Arlene Biala is a Pinay poet and performance artist born in San Francisco, CA and raised in the South Bay. She has been participating in poetry performances and workshops in the Bay Area for over 30 years and was Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County for 2016 and 2017. Her poetry has been described as "grounded in ritual object and ritual practice, mantras that resonate within the body, and plant the body firmly in the world."
She is the author of bone, her first chapbook of poetry published in 1993; continental drift, published by West End Press in 1999; her beckoning hands, published by Word Poetry in July, 2014 and winner of the 2015 American Book Award; and one inch punch, published by Word Poetry in October, 2018. She received her MFA in Poetics & Writing from New College of CA, and was the recipient of an artist residency at Montalvo. Performances and workshops include National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. with U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera and Diana Garcia for "Poets Unite!" an evening of readings and conversation honoring United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta, with poetry based on the "One Life: Dolores Huerta" exhibit; University of Texas at El Paso; Writers’ Week at UC Riverside; Kuwentuhan - A poetry project led by Barbara Jane Reyes in collaboration with The Poetry Center at SFSU; SFJAZZ Center; San Francisco Asian American Jazz Festival; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts; Manilatown Center at the I-Hotel; La Pena Cultural Center; APAture at Intersection for the Arts; Santa Clara University; San Jose Poetry Festival; and SOMArts Center in San Francisco. She has also performed for and taught creative writing workshops with elementary and high school youth.
In addition to being a mother of three, Arlene has been working full-time since 1996 as an arts education and grants program manager for the City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs.
Arlene Biala chants and dances at the center of inner-outer sacred lakes; her texts move at the incredible heights of Pele, the ancient Goddess.
Juan Felipe Herrera
her beckoning hands is at once lullaby and ethnography, Hip Hop and meditation, usurping formal poetics and instead choosing to dance into the fluidity that is the potential of poetry in our daily exchanges.
Tim Z. Hernandez