Monday, February 05, 2018

Interview of Edward Vidaurre

Interview of Edward Vidaurre by Xánath Caraza

Edward Vidaurre is the 2018 McAllen,Texas Poet Laureate and author of four collections of poetry. His collection of poems, Jazzhouse, is forthcoming from Prickly Pear Press in 2018 and a chapbook, Ramona and rumi: A love story during oligarchy a poetry collection is also forthcoming from Hercules Press in the Summer of 2018. Vidaurre is the Director of Operations in 2018 for the Valley International Poetry Festival, moderator for Poetry of Resistance, and founder of Pasts, Poetry & Vino - a reading series in the Rio Grande Valley. He resides in McAllen, Texas with his wife and daughter.

Who is Edward Vidaurre?

For a long time I didn’t know who I was or where I was going. From the womb of a Salvadoran mother and raised by a Mexican father I had a mixed identity of where I belonged. I am a Latino poet. Not Chicano nor Guanaco, but a mixture of both. I am a lover of poets. A fan of the written word of all voices from all cultures and backgrounds. I guess I’m still that latch-key kid with a little more knowledge and fight in me.

As a child, who first introduced you to reading?

My mother was my first teacher of literature. She and my grandmother always wrote letters to each other. I learned to read and write Spanish that way. My mom made me read the letters and write back to grandma in Spanish. My mother also had large stash of fotonovelas she would swap with the neighbors. As a kid I read those and the latino newspaper La Opinion my dad left lying around. I spent most summers in El Salvador hanging out in my Uncle’s book store reading Mafalda comics.

How did you first become a poet? 

I think I felt I was a poet when other poets embraced me as one. That was in San Benito, Texas. I went to a Writer’s Forum at the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center and was welcomed to read a poem to the group. After that, I was a regular at open mics.

Where were your first poems written? My first poem was written in the office of our family business at the time in Mission, TX it was titled Little Village Kids. 

When did you start to publish? 

My first poem was published in Boundless, the Anthology of the Valley International Poetry Festival. I was so happy. I was nervous. I found a passion and felt publishing was a reward for doing what I love.

Do you have any favorite poems by other authors? 

Cuando Los Cantos Se Vuelven Agua by Martin Espada comes to mind. This title conjured up a poem that I wrote called “Los Desaparecidos”. Coupled with an art painting by a local artist Rigoberto A. Gonzalez of a cartel member holding a severed head of a woman. Daniel Garcia Ordaz’ lyrical “These Are A Few Of My Favorite Che’s” sung to the tune of “These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things”

Chitos, Chalupas,
and Chilaquiles

Cholos and Chukos,
Chales and Chiles,

Chelas and Cha-Chas,
and Chocolate,
These are a few of my favorite “ches’s.”

Or in the poem “Why Come Nobody Tol’ Me Dat?”

Why come nobody tol’ me dat
I didn’t know English when
I was a pre-schooler?

I thought I was the only one who talked that way as a kid. But what the poem did was made me realize it’s okay to write about memories and life and not just about current events and feelings. That poetry was more than love and corny lines. It could be personal and haunting.

When do you know when a poem is ready to be read? 

That’s part of my editing process for poems. I read my poems like I have been doing for over 7 years to crowds. Then I go back and revise it and remember what part didn’t sound right. Read it again and if it goes well, it’s ready.

Could you comment on your life as a cultural activist?

I’m active on social media more than I am out on the streets. But there are different ways to show resistance, and I found that through written word it can be just as powerful. I believe the and frustration from growing up in Los Angeles during the 80’s and 90’s molded me into what I am today. I saw lots of unfair treatment from the police and society towards POC. We were always playing catch up and struggling to get ahead. We worked just as hard for enough money to keep us poor. It’s our time. We must unite and find a way to create and grow and resist the oppressors.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

I am currently the 2018 McAllen Poet Laureate. Along with the previous PL Priscilla Suarez and the 2019 PL Rodney Gomez we are working on an anthology and accepting submissions from students throughout the lower Rio Grande Valley for a new poetry anthology by and for youth: Called to Rise.

We call on students in elementary school, middle school, and high school to submit poetry that reflects and conveys their lives living at this particular time in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. The theme is “healing and hope”.
Poems can be emailed to
I am also the Director of Operations for The Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival, a four-day poetry festival in deep South Texas. This year, April 26-29, 2018

I have 2 collections due out this year, Jazzhouse a poetry collection (Prickly Pear Press) and Ramona & rumi: A Love Story During Oligarchy a chapbook with illustrations (Hercules Press)

What advice do you have for other poets?

Read poetry. Listen and show respect when other poets read. Be a word-catcher. Give poets feedback on how you feel about their poetry.

What else would you like to share?

Write a poem to yourself.

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