Monday, September 08, 2014

Of Runners and Writers: Juanita Salazar Lamb, an Arkansan Chicana

By Xánath Caraza


Juanita Salazar Lamb at The Writers Place, Festival of Faiths

A Chicana con ganas, Arkansas is where Juanita Salazar Lamb lives, a runner and writer.

This week, Juanita will be in Kansas City for a race on September 11. She will be part of the Riverfront Reading Series at the Writers Place on September 12. However, Juanita is no stranger to Kansas City; she has been featured here before as part of the Festival of Faiths also at The Writers Place a few years ago.

Participants and Organizers of Festival of Faiths, The Writers Place, Kansas City, MO

I actually met her at our Latino Writers Collective meetings, she is an out-of-town member and last summer I had the opportunity to spend some time with her in Arkansas. 




Of a runner, writer, and friend, an Arkansan Chicana, here is a short interview of Juanita Salazar Lamb.  ¡Conozcámosla!


Juanita Salazar Lamb at The Writers Place


Xánath Caraza: ¿Desde cuándo escribes? ¿Qué género literario escribes?

Juanita Salazar Lamb: I’ve always written—maybe not always on paper or a computer—but in my head ever since I can remember.  I would make up stories about people I would see around town: The man carrying a bouquet of flowers wrapped in green florist’s paper: were they part of an apology or a celebration? The little boy with his arm in a cast: was it the result of a playground accident that couldn’t be helped or was it a result of his travesura?  The woman wearing dark glasses that obscured the upper part of her face: was she hiding something or did she want to observe closely without been noticed?

I mainly write short stories, have been working on a series of murder mysteries for more than 10 years. And, for better or worse, I sometimes produce the occasional verse.


La librería favorita de Juanita



XC: ¿Puedes compartir algún reto para ti cuando escribes?

JSL: Some stories will not let go of me until I put them down on paper.  “The Night the Devil Rode the Wind” is one example.  That story came to me after a very unusual weather phenomenon in Oklahoma.  It filled my mind and I brought it to conclusion in my head, but it kept churning inside of me until I wrote it down.  It was my first short story to be published in a literary magazine, Border Senses, Spring 2006, Vol. XI.  When I experience such an overwhelming feeling, I need to the emotions, turmoil, joy, etc., release from me.  Once it’s down on paper, I can rest.  Will other’s read it and feel what I felt?  I would like to think so, but for the most part writing is something I must do…for me.





XC: ¿Qué recomendaciones pudieras dar a las nuevas generaciones que quieren escribir?

JSL: WRITE! We all have a little voice in our head that tells us “nobody cares what you think.” “You, write?  You’re too ___________________(fill in the blank) and not enough ____________(fill in the blank).” Ignore that voice and write.


READ!! Read everything—in the genre you’re writing.  Read beyond your genre. Increase your vocabulary, especially adjectives.  Not all things are “amazing”.


LISTEN!! If your writing includes dialogue, then listen closely to the way people speak. Do people speak in full sentences or do they speak in phrases, or verbal shorthand? Do some persons have trademark phrases or words?





XC: Yo sé que también eres corredora y que de hecho vienes a una carrera a Kansas City, ¿a cuál carrera vienes y puedes compartir un poco de cómo te iniciaste?

JSL:  I’m going to Kansas City to do the Patriots’ Run half marathon on 9/11.   I’ve been running since 2010 when I ran out of excuses as to why I couldn’t do an endurance race.  It’s something I had wanted to do for many years, and suddenly I was looking at turning 60 and still only wishing.    In October of that year I signed up to train for a half marathon with Team in Training, and finished my first half marathon in April of 2011, then turned 60 in May of 2011.  The Patriots’ Run will be my 9th half marathon; I’ve also completed numerous other races ranging in distance from 5k to 20 miles. 




XC: ¿Qué has aprendido de esta disciplina, correr?

JSL: I can apply 2 lessons from running to writing, and viceversa:

There’s a voice in my head that tells me I can’t do it: I’m too old, I’m tired, I don’t feel like it, it’s too hot, it’s too cold, etc., etc., etc.,  It’s just like the voice in the writer’s head I mentioned earlier.  But like writing, I run for me.  Just like I don’t run the fastest race or have the best form, I run because I need to challenge myself.  I may not write a story as compelling as some other authors, or poems that flow as beautifully as others, but I write because I need to get the words down on paper.

The second lesson is that no matter how well I’ve prepared myself for a race: training, nutrition, hydration, sometimes my body just says “no”. So I may quit for that day, but I’ll keep trying.  Sometimes I have a story brewing for months, or years—I know the characters, the beginning, the ending, but even so my story just isn’t flowing.  But I just keep going back to it, because it just might come together perfectly the next time.


Juanita Salazar Lamb


XC: ¿Puedes dar algún consejo a otr@s Chican@s/Latin@s que quieran correr y competir?

JSL: If you’ve never run before, train with a group if possible like Team in Training and Marathon Makeover to name two that I’ve trained with. If no training groups are available then read and follow the advice knowledgeable coaches who have published books and articles on their preferred method like Danny Dreyer on Chi running, and Galloway on the run/walk method.  Como dicen los de Nike:  Hazlo!


Juanita Salazar Lamb


Juanita Salazar Lamb grew up in a bilingual, bicultural family and her heart belongs to La Cultura Latina. Her stories are grounded in the realities of growing up along the border of two countries and two cultures. Her writings have appeared in Zopilote, Latina Magazine, Border Senses, Azahares: UA Fort Smith's premier Spanish-language creative literary journal, and Cuentos del Centro: Stories from the Latino Heartland. She served on the judging panel for 2010 Conversations Essay Contest sponsored by the Rogers Public Library Foundation.


In Other News

Thrilled to announce that my new book of poetry is finally here, Sílabas de viento/Syllables of Wind (Mammoth Publications, 2014)  by Xanath Caraza, translated by Sandra Kingery and cover art by Adriana Manuela.  I’ll have my book release on Monday, September 15 at 7 p.m., where I’ll discuss my work on the radio program, New Letters on the Air,hosted by Angela Elam, as part of Park University’s Ethnic Voices PoetrySeries, held at Woodneath Library Center, 8900 N. Flintlock Road, Kansas City, MO.  Then Sílabas de viento/Syllables of Wind will have its next debut at the Big Tent Reading Series at Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kansas on September 25 at 7 p.m.  Finalmente, here is a link to Revista Contratiempo, page 4, of a book review of Sílabas de viento/Syllables of Wind.  Viva la poesía!


Sílabas de viento/Syllables of Wind 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ms Caraza for the interview with Ms Salazar Lamb. I appreciate her advice, "Write".
Also, I enjoyed the pics of an Arkansan

Diana Aviles Shields