Melissa Roxas was born in Manila, Philippines, and grew up in Los Angeles, California. Melissa is a poet, writer, and human rights activist. She was a PEN USA Rosenthal Emerging Voices and a Kundiman fellow. For the past fifteen years she has done community work in the United States and in the Philippines. She is a co-founder of Habi Arts, a Los Angeles-based cultural organization dedicated to promoting community empowerment and social justice through the arts.
Melissa is a survivor of enforced disappearance and torture by the Philippine military. While conducting health care work in the Philippines on May 19, 2009, she was abducted at gunpoint and held in secret detention in a military camp and tortured for six days. Amongst the items taken from her were unpublished writings and poems. This experience has strengthened her commitment to continue writing for truth and justice. For her, the creation of poems and writings is a form of resistance to erasure—poems as evidence to what the military and government wanted to destroy, poems as witness to the times, and poems to remember the thousands of others who were killed and remain disappeared.