Excited to share my first ever interview is now featured at La Bloga. So many thanks to Olga Garcia for the invitation to do an interview and for her thoughtful research and questions.
As life would have it, I’m currently sitting in a motel room with my mother in Crescent City, CA. She requested I accompany her on a 18 hour bus ride to help in her service work organizing bus trips for families to Pelican Bay State Prison. She asked me to organize an art project with the children while she held a prayer service. I’m definitely lucky to have parents who have inspired me to work in social justice and the arts.
I got to read her this section of the interview while we wait in our room to go pick up the families at the prison and head back to L.A.
Welcome, Xochitl. Let’s get right into it. I’ve been writing a lot about my parents lately, and as a result re-discovering ways in which they influenced my writing. I’m curious, ¿Qué dicen tus padres about you being a poet, and how have they influenced your creative journey?
My parents have always been very supportive of my writing career. I think it is because they are both artists at heart. My mother wanted to be an opera singer, but ended up dropping out of community college when her music teacher didn’t show much interest. She’s told me the story a few times. She was thinking of quitting school and went to tell her teacher and her teacher basically said, “OK.” As a teacher myself, I try to remember this.
As I was growing up, my memories of my dad tend to revolve around images of him in the garage creating objects in his wood-turning workshop. We still have a table he made in those days and my aunt still has the bed he made for her and her husband as a wedding present.
The thing is they were both immigrant children, and they are both the eldest in their families, so they didn’t have the freedom to pursue their artistic dreams. My mom had to take care of her little sister and brothers, and my dad had to go into the army. I think seeing me be a writer brings them joy, and whenever anything good happens, I definitely feel like it’s happening to all of us.
My dad’s number one saying is, “Put your name on it, Mija!” Whenever I come to him with some good news he always says, “That’s good, Mija! Just remember, put your name on it!” To them creating something you are proud of, something you can attach your name to is of high importance.