In 1984, I turned to theater in the hopes of finding a more direct form of communication between me and my people.
You grow up in America and you’re told from day one, ‘This is the land of opportunity.’ That everybody has an equal chance to make it in this country. And then you look at places like Harlem, and you say, ‘That is absolutely a lie.’
I don’t even want to guess at what computer literacy might do to children, except to say that if cyberspace is considered a place, then there are people who are already in it and people who are not in it.
I was appointed Poet Laureate. It came totally out of the blue because most Poet Laureates had been considerably older than I. It was not something that I even had begun to dream about!
Writing poetry makes you intensely conscious of how words sound, both aloud and inside the head of the reader. You learn the weight of words and how they sound to the ear.
In a fragile environment, we need to be aware of ourselves as members of a uniquely powerful species living among other species who are quite as interesting as we are but vulnerable to us because we are cleverer in more destructive ways.
Have you ever heard a good joke? If you’ve ever heard someone just right, with the right pacing, then you’re already on the way to poetry. It’s about using words in very precise ways and using gesture.
I am the daughter of a Chicana and anglo. I think most days I am an embarrassment to both groups. I sometimes hate the white in me so viciously that I long to forget the commitment my skin has imposed upon my life.
I’m not much given to making shamanistic remarks about all this, but I’m a great believer in the dream life. If I can carry without spilling whatever it is that drips into my head in the night to my desk, then that’s valuable.
However, the difficulties and pleasures of the writing itself are similar for a novel with a historical setting and a novel with a contemporary setting, as far as I’m concerned.