Guest Post By Lucrecia Guerrero
“Mexican moment: on a morning run, I pass a café not yet open. Mexicans clean with water hoses, blaring Banda. My stride turns into dance,” Daniel Chacón recently tweeted. Yes, tweeted. A person who can observe and write such an inspired comment in the immediacy of the moment is clearly an artist, one destined to write. His artistry is not limited, however, to writing. Chacón is also a professor at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), a photographer/journalist (www.soychacon.blogspot.com) and co-hosts, with Benjamín Alire Sáenz, on the literary radio program “Words on a Wire” (KTEP.org). He has published one novel: and the shadows took him. To his credits add three short story collections: Chicano Chicanery, Unending Rooms, and most recently, Hotel Juárez: Stories, Rooms and Loops.
In a recent interview with me, Chacon described his circuitous route to creative writing. In high school, Chacón read dramas voraciously, especially those of Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams, and Lorraine Hansberry. Attracted to “character-driven” dramas, Chacón understood, as he read, that what “drives plot, the meaning, the themes of the play is character and character need.” But although he enjoyed reading plays, he did not consciously think of becoming a writer. When Chacón graduated high school he had a blueprint for his future: major in Political Science at Fresno State then continue to law school and fulfill his ultimate goal of attorney at law. He would be a “responsible citizen.”
Then during his last semester at Fresno State, on a lark, he signed up for a class in
Fiction Writing. Chacón states emphatically that from that moment he has “never turned
back.” Like the characters in all those plays he read, Chacón had found his “need,” the need for artistic expression through the written word.
Chacón now passes on what he has learned about writing to students in his Fiction Writing classes at UTEP. When I told him that some teaching writers feel that teaching drains their creativity, Chacón states that his teaching “reinforces and strengthens [his] position as a writer.” He feels fortunate to teach at a research institute where he is not required to teach outside of his specific genre. When selecting examples of published works for his class he selects those works which have writing elements similar to his own. Because Chacón has been working on a memoir for several years, he has taught many courses on the memoir, assigning memoirs that he feels he can learn from.
Although Chacón is currently working on a memoir, for his fiction he finds himself increasingly drawn to short pieces and to poetry. Clearly this is not an artist who settles. Chacón described the stories in his recently published Hotel Juárez as “passages linking one small room to another, creating an entire floor if you will, giving shape to a story.” A definition which could also describe Chacón’s development as an author, a complex artist whose talent is composed of many different stories, rooms, and loops. As he continues to build his body of work, we will watch as he “strides” and “dances” from one room to another. With the years, who knows what shape the whole may take.
Unless otherwise noted, all the quotations are taken from my interview with Daniel
Chacón: www.elpasotimes.com/. . ./author-daniel-chac-n-work-interconnected-flashes
Lucrecia Guerrero grew up on the U.S./Mexico border, and her writing reflects her bicultural and bilingual upbringing. She has lived in the Midwest for years where she continues to write and facilitate writing workshops. Her short stories and articles have been published in various literary journals. Chronicle Books publishedChasing Shadows, a collection of connected stories, and more recently her novel Tree of Sighs was awarded the Premio Aztlán Literary Award.
|Daniel Chacón, along with Melinda Palacio will be at Beyond Baroque, Sunday November 17 at 2pm,|
Open Mike to follow. Hosted by Jessica Ceballos.
Upcoming Events for Daniel Chacón
November 17 at Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd, Sunday, 2pm.
(Hitched Series hosted by Xochitl-Julissa Bermejo to follow at 5pm)
December 6 at the Nopal Festival in Austin, TX
December 9 with Jonathan Klein at Octavia Books in New Orleans, December 9 at 6pm