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SOFIA M. STARNES is a writer of Philippine-Spanish heritage who has been an American citizen since 1989. She was born in Manila, where she was educated in the Institución Teresiana (Saint Pedro Poveda College), and subsequently moved to Spain, where she received an advanced degree in English Philology from the University of Madrid. She holds a degree in English Pedagogy from the Instituto de Idiomas in Madrid as well. In 2013, she received a Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) degree from Union College (Ky.). Sofia is the author of five poetry collections and the editor of two anthologies. Her chapbook, The Soul's Landscape (Aldrich, January 2002), was selected by then U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins as one of two co-winners of the 2001 Aldrich Poetry Prize. Her first full-length poetry book, A Commerce of Moments (Pavement Saw Press, August 2003), won the Editor's Prize in the 2001 Transcontinental Poetry Award competition and was named Honor Book in the 2004 Virginia Literary Awards competition. In 2008, her collection, Corpus Homini: A Poem for Single Flesh, was awarded the Whitebird Poetry Series Prize and published as a limited-edition, signed, and numbered chapbook by Wings Press. Her fourth collection, Fully Into Ashes, a full-length book, also was published by Wings Press in April 2011. In 2012, Franciscan University Press issued her fifth collection, Love and the Afterlife, a limited-edition, signed and numbered, invited chapbook, as part of the university's poetry series. In 2013, Sofia edited Four Virginia Poets Laureate, 2004-2012: An Anthology and Reader's Guide, compiled at the request of the Poetry Society of Virginia. The book was published by Cedar Creek Press. Sofia’s most recent publication is The Nearest Poem Anthology (Cedar Creek Press, 2014), of which she is the editor. The anthology is the culmination of a project she initiated and completed during her term as Virginia Poet Laureate (2012-2014). The aim of the project and of the book is to recognize the reader as a vital contributor to a poem’s completion and to show the many varied reasons why poetry is integral to people’s lives.
I am happy to have survived my parents’ ‘50s divorce;a 20-year separation from my father; and moving to 17 houses by the time I was 17. I am an advocate for the mentally ill and abused, and champion the creative arts as a means to heal and transform broken lives. A refugee from 9/11 NYC, I now lives in Winchester, VA in the Shenandoah Valley, where I am a Quaker; a Reiki practitioner; a creativity workshop leader; and a substitute teacher in the city's schools.