What inspires or motivates you as
an activist and a writer?
Life mostly—meaning what goes on around me,
what goes on in my neighborhood.
Who do you write for?
don’t have a specific person, but I would hope that my work would appeal to
everyone. But also I write to give voice to my community, and those without a
Can you describe how you have
seen your writing merge with your activism?
my world, poetry and art are inseparable from politics, and politics are
inseparable from art and poetry. There
is no division.
How has San Francisco influenced
general it is a city very supportive of artists and poets and creativity, but
in particular the Mission District, its history and its Latino community, have
been a great source of material and inspiration for me.
You were quoted saying that you
are nostalgic for the future. What do
you mean by that?
the best is yet to come, both personally and hopefully, for the Latino
community and all oppressed people of the world.
What are your dreams and visions
for the future?
better place for all of us, where education is free and exciting, prisons
outlawed, and poetry mandatory—for police and politicians.
If anything, what stands in the
way of this future and what will be essential in order to achieve it?
destruction of Pacha Mama [Mother Earth] and a reevaluation of the role of
humans in nature.
What do you see as the strengths
and weaknesses of the Latino community?
of our strengths has always been our sense of community, as well as our
artistic and creative sense—we are a people used to enduring whatever comes.
What do you think these dynamics
mean in terms of the future?
we can save ourselves and our community, so I am all for those elements and
activities—like poetry readings and festivals—that strengthen our community.
Hearing that you put your college
education on hold because of your activism, I wonder how do you feel about the
current education system in general and/or considering the Latino community?
been cut out for the most part from the educational system—you can tell just by
how few Latina/o professors you’ll find on any campus.
If any, what changes do you think
a complete funding of public education, we need to instill in ourselves, our
families and our community a standard that each and every one of us—no matter
age, will become the best educated person we can be so that our entire
community becomes not just the healthiest but also the most creative and best
educated of all.
What piece of advice would you
offer to writers of any skill level?
those who struggle to write and hate it, to those who are excellent and enjoy
it: read. Read a lot and read widely. You cannot be a writer without first being a
reader. And hang out in bookstores,
attend readings and become part of, and help form, the literary scene in your