I was a child on the south side of Chicago during the late 60s/early 70s – a time much like this one – when politics and social change is in the air we breathe and the water we drink. My father was a civil rights activist and I marched with him against the Vietnam War when I was five. My sister and I sold bumper stickers for George McGovern’s presidential campaign when I was nine.
Critically, too, my neighborhood, my schools, my choir, my church were what we used to call “integrated”: I was a middle-class white girl who grew up surrounded by Black people, who had Black friends from nursery school on, who was frequently the only white person in the room, in the house, at the party, on the bus, who had no idea this was unusual for a white person in America.
I love the magical and fantastic element in writing. I get a thrill at the duality of the mundane next to wildness. I think the contrast heightens both aspects and leaves me an enormous landscape to create and illustrate how characters interact and respond to that landscape. I never tire of creating doors with fantastic elements and having the story go through that door to more discovery of something deeper or hidden.
There’s this sense that there’s abject poverty for Native people, that their lives are always a plight, tragic and dark. Then there’s the romanticizing of the environmental Indian, the wise, the “please teach us your ways,” the spiritual Indian. I’m interested in the continuum, all of the spaces in between those two false extremes.
We're excited to announce our first interview series devoted to the complications, wonders and triumphs of the Caribbean and Caribbean American experience. In this series, writers discuss the influence of their cultural heritage on their work, craft techniques, and the state of the Caribbean literature in America today, among other topics.
I try my best to always write with intention, asking myself the questions: What am I writing? Why am I writing this? Who am I writing this for? Sometimes it can be writing just for me initially, but then the bigger picture always comes into focus. I’m writing for my ancestors who made it possible for me to get to where I am today. I’m writing for my family, friends, the Native youth I work with, my community, and all of those who could benefit from this gift I’ve been given, and I write for those who will follow. I hope they’ll be encouraged to use their gifts as well.
As a Latina poet from a small desert community on the California/Mexico border, I strive to speak for and with the women with whom I grew up: the mothers, daughters, childless women, tías, and nanas. My writing is concerned with the complex relationships many women of color have with family and tradition, which are so rife with ambiguities. They’re often liberating and subjugating forces, both strengthening and repressive, with mythical dimensions and at the same time utterly real.