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Texas Book Festival — San Antonio Edition

Interview with Laurie Ann Guerrero

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

It seems to be a form of witnessing, a very personal thing…

I think that part of where that comes from is that I began teaching about four years ago. When I started, I tried very hard to incite something in them, to make them fight for their education. But I soon realized that part of being their teacher is just to show them: this is our history; these are the people who come before us, their experience. I realized I can’t take my fire and put it inside someone else. But I can expose them to things, and give them access to certain things … I think that in the process of learning to be a teacher, it helps me to learn to be the kind of writer I want to be, as well.

I think there is a cliché of poetry being expression, but you seem to be focusing on the reader, instead…

I think that’s part of it, but not the biggest part. In the process of writing, I come to understand what I already know, and what I believe ... I am hoping that the work might provoke something in them, to look in the mirror at oneself, and at one’s community. Part of that is that I am a mother, wanting to be the best that I can be as a witness and someone who is participating in this community… I have been asked who I write for—most writers might say, “everybody, I write for,” but my first audience is my community, it always has been. It’s hard, I think I put a lot of pressure on myself for that, but that is the only way I can write truthfully… I don’t want to be the only voice in my community, but I want to be a voice.

Is San Antonio a tough audience?

I’ve given readings all over the country, but the hardest readings are the ones I do here at home.

Texas Book Festival — San Antonio Edition
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