Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pat Mora talks to La Bloga

Pat Mora
LYDIA GIL:  How has your work as a poet shaped your writing for children?

PAT MORA:  Wonderful question! I believe there can be a close connection   between writing evocatively for children and writing evocative poetry. Both invite the writer to compress and to play with language(s).

LG: Día has been a phenomenal success across the US; what were your expectations when you first proposed it?

PM: I smile at your statement. I feel Día, has so, so far to go to reach its full and necessary impact. My dream, as I've been stating the last few years, is now that Annual April Día celebrations (often on or near April 30th) become as firm a tradition as Mother's Day and Father's Day. I want to stress that Día is a daily commitment, día por día, and that it celebrates not only the importance of literacy but also the wonder of children. In 2016, we'll celebrate Día's 20th Anniversary.

LG:  How do you respond to the claims of a lack of diversity in children's writing today?

PM: It's a fact. According to the census bureau, about a quarter of students in U.S. public schools are Hispanics/Latinos. In 2013, of the more than 3,000 children's books published in this country, 57 were about Latinos, 48 by them. Yes, we need to speak to publishers, reviewers, etc., and we need to work with educators and librarians to purchase and enthusiastically share books written and illustrated by culturally diverse authors and illustrators, BUT we also need to be an active part of the solution. We need to buy and give and share those books. Publishing is a business, and we need a nation of readers.

LG: What is the role of bilingualism in your writing? 

PM: I grew up in a bilingual home and have always been bilingual. Since my educational and professional experience has been primarily in English, I am English dominant. I feel blessed, however, to be bilingual and to be able to think and speak and write in both languages.

LG: Could you comment on the process and experience of writing with your daughter?  How many books have you written together? 

PM: Writing with my daughter Libby Martinez, a lawyer by training, was great, great fun. We've published two books together, and we laughed and laughed on the phone working on both. Libby is an excellent writer and is very creative. Publishing children's books is becoming more and more challenging for many reasons. I so hope that Libby finds success and joy in this work.

LG: What would you say is your biggest responsibility when writing for children?

PM: I'm smiling again. Certainly I feel a responsibility to be inventive and to do my very best to create a poem or book that will in some way delight my young readers for whom I have so much respect. They are our future readers--and our future.  

The National Poetry Series
is pleased to announce the winner of the 2014 Paz Prize for Poetry:

Nueve Monedas by Carlos Pintado from Miami Beach, Florida
Chosen by Richard Blanco, to be published by Akashic Books

Honorable Mention: Un enigma esas munecas
by Lourdes Vázquez of Miami, Florida


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