Raised on the southwest side of Chicago, Sarah Bruno grew up in a Puerto Rican family that instilled strong values and traditions. Every Christmas her family would gather throughout the Chicagoland area to continue the traditions of parrandas, or Puerto Rican Christmas caroling—this experience awakened something in Bruno that connected memory with diasporic music that would ultimately propel her throughout her career. Bruno grew up participating in the arts at church, elementary school, and through her high school Walter Payton College Prep. At Payton Bruno immersed herself in the spoken word community in Chicago taking writing workshops at Young Chicago Authors, Kuumba Lynx, and finding a home with YOUmedia Chicago. As a YOUmedia Slam Team captain she won Louder Than A Bomb in 2011, and continued using art to garner a Full Tuition Hip Hop and Urban Arts Scholarship with the First Wave Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The First Wave community at UW-Madison gave Bruno the opportunity to hone her skills, vision, and experience the entanglement of art and academics in a way that she has not separated. She was a part of the Ronald E. McNair Scholars program where she did research on Chicago-based Puerto Rican women and their relationship with birth control further developing her love for social sciences. She then became an Undergraduate Research Scholar fellow and was able to learn pedagogical tools to engage her students in research methods. Upon her acceptance to the UW-Madison Cultural Anthropology department, Bruno found her interests growing to include the affective states of Black women, and their navigation of trauma through their daily lives. She has been a part of the teaching team for the large introductory class in the Anthropology department, “Intro to Cultural Anthropology and Human Diversity” for 2.5 years. However, some of her most rewarding work was done in her workshop series through the Campus Women’s Center where she was given the platform to lead Radical Softness workshops in an accessible and engaged space for student of color on the UW-Madison Campus. Her focus groups within some of the workshops have helped Bruno build her theoretical frameworks for her dissertation project.Bruno has continued to follow her passions combining art, Blackness, and affect in her dissertation work which focuses on how historically and contemporarily, Black Puerto Rican bomberas (women practitioners of bomba) are one of the most vulnerable populations but also constantly at the forefront of resistance, healing, and rebuilding efforts (especially post-Maria).
Her poetry has been featured in the Acentos Review and UW Flash Fiction online journals. She is currently a Lecturer in the Chican@ and Latin@ Studies program teaching “Intro to Chican@ and Latin@ Studies” and “Latinx in Reggaeton and Hip Hop.” She is still learning and unlearning how to be a full person in graduate school and the rest of the world.