I’ve worked throughout California as a poet: in colleges, universities, worker camps, migrant education offices, continuation high schools, juvenile halls, prisons, and gifted classrooms.
Marvin Bell always looked very closely at how lines could break, how you could put over one line into the second line. How you could stop the line two or three times within the line: You could make it stop.
I’m a political poet – let us say a ‘human’ poet, a poet that’s concerned with the plight of people who suffer. If words can be of assistance, then that’s what I’m going to use.
Sometimes I have a very fleeting emotional dance with a fleeting phrase, like ‘half-Mexican.’
My parents moved from ranch to ranch, valley to valley, town to town, but our roots in Fowler never really faded. For me, it’s a place of history, stories and songs, not just facts and figures.
San Diego shaped me a lot. The visual landscapes, the emotional panoramas, the teachers and mentors I had from the third grade through San Diego High – it’s all a big part of the poetry fountain that I continue to drink from.
I tell my workshop students, ‘I want you to think of yourselves as artists. Then, when you’re writing, you’re painting, you’re crafting, you’re making a design, you’re sculpting, you’re creating choreography, sound, a sound script.’
Diversity really means becoming complete as human beings – all of us. We learn from each other. If you’re missing on that stage, we learn less. We all need to be on that stage.
The more we engage in society, the more firsts we have, then there will be a moment when we have no more firsts. Or maybe there will always be new firsts.
Migrants all over the world are pushed and pulled across borders by hunger, terror and climate change. It happened to my own family.