Janel Pineda is a poet, scholar of Central American studies, and the daughter of Salvadoran immigrants. When Janel first asked her grandmother why their family had migrated to Los Angeles, she answered, “because it rained too much.” The truth was that her family had fled to Los Angeles at the onset of the Salvadoran Civil War in 1980, in search of refuge. Despite the deep silences about the Salvadoran Civil War within her family, Janel’s work has evolved to investigate the ways that poetry can be used to counteract narrative silencing and to reclaim familial and cultural stories.
A first-generation college graduate, Janel earned a BA in English from Dickinson College, where she was supported by a Posse Scholarship. While at Dickinson, Janel co-founded the Latina Discussion Group to support the experience and retention of Latina students on a predominantly white, elite campus. Janel spent her junior year at the University of Oxford, as a recipient of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. She returned to the UK in 2019 to begin her graduate studies as a Marshall Scholar. Janel obtained an MA in creative writing and education from Goldsmiths, University of London and an MPhil in Latin American Studies from the University of Cambridge.
Janel’s debut poetry book, Lineage of Rain, was published by Haymarket Books in 2021. Her poetry explores Salvadoran cultural memory, intergenerational family narratives, and diasporic joy. Janel is a part of the editorial team that founded La Piscucha Magazine, a multilingual arts, literature, and culture magazine created by Salvadoran writers. Since her involvement with the 2018 Radical Roots Delegation, in which a group of Salvadoran diasporic organizers met with social movement leaders across El Salvador, Janel is also a member of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES).
Janel is currently pursuing a PhD in Chicana/o and Central American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, where her research focuses on U.S. Central American poetics and the liberatory and healing capacities of poetry for Central American communities. She aspires to lead an interdisciplinary academic and artistic center dedicated to the preservation of migrant stories through research, poetry, and creative expression.