ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque writer is being nationally recognized for her poetry. She won the “First Book Award” from the Academy of American Poets, and now, she gets to travel to work with scholars from around the world. 

Sara Rivera is a native Albuquerque writer and artist. She said writing has always been her outlet for expressing her emotions and deepest thoughts. 

“It’s the way that I capture the things that I’m thinking about or the things that I’m investigating,” said Sara Rivera, writer and artist. 

Rivera said her book, “The Blue Mimes,” was her first full-length poetry book. She submitted it for the Academy of American Poets First Book Award and didn’t expect much, but then she got a call. 

“I generally assume that I had done something wrong, so I thought that I had somehow messed up the application,” said Rivera. 

The Academy told Rivera she was this year’s grand prize winner, beating out thousands of applicants from across the country. It earned Rivera the chance to get her book published by Graywolf Press. In addition, she got $5,000 and a six-week, all-expenses-paid residency at a 15-century castle in Italy. 

“You can just work while you’re there in this castle; it’s pretty amazing,” expressed Rivera. 

Rivera said her book was inspired by events in her life including the death of her father in 2017 and losing her two grandmothers during the pandemic. 

“There is a lot of grief in this book and writing the book was for me a way to survive or make it through that grief,” she explained. 

Rivera said the prize money will be used to support her writing career. Besides the exciting prizes, she said her biggest hope is that her book can help others get through their grief as it helped her. 

“People have already shown me that they sort of see what I’m trying to do with it, or they respond to it in some way, or it touches some part of their story. That’s all you can hope for,” stated Rivera. 

Rivera said that she’s already working on her next project which includes writing fiction and short stories.