Sunday Salon: 10/16/11

Photo: Sandra Cisneros and me at book signing Partial life to-do list

  • Meet Sandra Cisneros: check
  • Hear Sandra Cisneros read one of her stories: check
  • Convince someone to buy Caramelo: check

Yup: here I am with one of my favorite authors; that stack of books on the table is indeed all mine! Though Cisneros wasn’t personalizing books, she was allowing people to take pictures with her.

I got to the reading about an hour early, so I was able to snag a front row seat right in front of the podium. I heard her before I saw her; she has a very distinct voice. Next thing I knew, she was reading a passage from Caramelo. She went on to read an unpublished short story based on Frida Kahlo, then ended with one of her earlier poems. I was in heaven! But it was the Q & A that I loved the most; Cisneros talked about everything from writing to feminism to teens. I tweeted a few quotes from that night:

  • “Life’s too short to read bad poetry! I don’t go to open mics!”
  • On empowering teen girls: “If they can’t control their body, they can’t control their future.”
  • “I didn’t understand feminism until women of color feminism came along.”
  • On people who say they don’t like books: “That’s like saying you don’t want to fall in love.”
  • On clicking with a book: “It’s kind of like match.com. You have to keep looking until you find the right one.”

She was so, so, so great. I had my students attend the reading, and the ones who went loved her. I loved that she focused on encouraging people to read, and since most of the audience was Latina/o, she name dropped a lot of Latina/o authors (including a few from our area). She lamented that it was so hard to find Latina/o authors, even though there are so many out there, and encouraged people to do more to read, write, and promote Latina/o literature. It was fantastic.

I had vowed not to do something embarrassing like blurt out that I’d written part of my MA thesis on Caramelo, but when the time came to meet her, I went there. Our conversation kind of lead there, though. I’d handed her all her books to sign, plus Goddess of the Americas, an anthology in which she published an awesome essay about the Virgen de Guadalupe. When she saw that book, she said, “Wow, we have a super fan!” I told her about the thesis and she asked what the title was and how it went, then inquired what I was doing now. She shook my hand before I left. I was totally geeking out. 🙂

Having read Cherríe Moraga and The House on Mango Street back-to-back a couple of weeks ago–and having spent the past month reading and writing about Latina/o fiction and nonfiction for Latina/o Heritage Month–so much of what Cisneros said clicked all together for me. My head’s been swimming with ideas ever since.

Speaking of Latina/o Heritage Month, I’m sorry I slacked off of posting this week. I think I slept all twisted earlier this week and hurt my neck, so sitting at the computer was extremely painful (even sitting while Cisneros was reading was uncomfortable…but like hell I was going to skip that!). I finally caved on Wednesday and saw a chiropractor; it was kind of freaky because I don’t even like popping my fingers, much less my neck, but the relief was almost instant. Anyway, though the blog will go back to its usual eclectic self starting tomorrow, expect to keep seeing books by Latino authors pop up (I’m particularly excited about Dagoberto Gilb and Luis Alberto Urrea, who both have new books coming out in November).

The Sunday Salon.com

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5 comments

  1. Nymeth

    Sounds like a wonderful experience 😀 I met my favourite author earlier this year, so I know the feeling of checking something from the Things To Do Before I Die list. I have yet to read anything by Cisneros, but I have a friend who’s been telling me to read The House on Mango Street for years. Between that and your wonderfully enthusiastic post, I’m putting it on hold at the library.

  2. Jenny

    I met her when I was in Texas. I Love all of her books!! I would like to have spent a few more minutes speaking with her, but will never forget the things she said to me. I’m glad she feels that way about girls and their bodies. It’s something I’ve said for a long time and have to completely agree. If females of all ages can’t have a say over what happens with their bodies they can’t really feel and believe they have any other choices or control over anything, including their choices for their future.

  3. Melissa

    Hi everyone…thanks for commenting! That quote about girls having control of their bodies was also one of my favorites–she said so many great things about empowerment! That whole evening was definitely a highlight for me. 🙂

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