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.
My mother was a great storyteller and a great historian in her own way. She only made it to third grade. She came from Mexico City at the tail end of the Mexican Revolution and that kind of turmoil and chaos and frenzy and also excitement.
I remember looking at James Joyce’s journals. It was just amazing – it looked like ants had written on the page. So much writing on one page, every corner of the page was filled. Some of the lines were underlined in yellow or blue or red. A lot of color, intense writing.
A pen is different from the pad, the key, moving your fingers across a screen. I like both. I like to work on sketchbooks, big old white sketch paper. I like how that feels, and I like to put different media on it. Then there’s the phone, smartphone, iPad: It’s the new page, and it’s not the same page anymore.
Do not wait for a poem; a poem is too fast for you. Do not wait for the poem; run with the poem and then write the poem.
I want our young Latinos and Latinas to write their hearts out and express their hearts out and let us all listen to each other.