Monday, March 18, 2019

Interview of Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros by Xánath Caraza

Interview of Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros by Xánath Caraza

Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros

Who is Carolina?

I am a Tejana poeta, Chicana, and Mujerista. I hope that my work gives light as it wrestles between the tension and hope of our time.

As a child, who guided you through your first readings? 

My grandfather. He would go to the bathroom for hours and it would drive my grandmother crazy, but she’s the one who made a small shelf in there for him. The shelf always had the Holy Bible in Spanish and religious pamphlets or thin books. It was not something overtly introduced to me, yet I found such joy in knowing that my grandfather would retreat to read and it was something he enjoyed very much. My grandmother created a space for him to read and enjoy that. While she did that for him, I think she simultaneously did that for me. It made me want to be a reader.

How did you first become a poet?

This is a blurry answer for me. I have so many memories of poetry and I don’t know which one was the first. I don’t know if I was in Mrs. Kazekwa’s first grade class describing clowns who rode unicycles or if I was at my grandmother’s kitchen table, elbows plastered to the plastic as I wrote out lines on a birthday card especially for her. I wrote those lines in light blue ink with one of those pens that had four colors: green, red, blue, and black. Those were my grandmother’s favorite pens. I don’t know if I was in Mrs. Davis’s class in high school writing about the macabre or if I was in our trailor off 281 South dealing with the horror of teenage life. Maybe it was in our trailor off Addison Road or in our home off East Bates or the Bellaire Apartments off South Flores. It was somewhere there that I became a poet and all those places contributed to that moment.

What projects are you working on at the moment that you would like to share?

I am currently working on a book of fiction that I started to write in Professor Nan Cuba’s class in my current graduate program at Our Lady of the Lake University. She unearthed stories that I didn’t know I had inside of me. It was a real pleasure to work on fiction with her. I find that when I write fiction there is a recurring theme of journey that seems to pierce through. I want to acknowledge it. I want to honor it.

I am also researching Chicanx theopoetics. I’ll leave that there for the moment. I believe in speaking things out into the universe.

What advice do you have for other poets?

Take risks. Have a poet’s prayer. Give thanks to your ancestors. There is no one in competition with you. We are all in this together. Never be afraid to learn from someone else. Learning is an opportunity to re-remember what we know in our bones to be the truth.

What else would you like to share?

The work of poetry is the work of faith. Sometimes we sit down to do the work and don’t know what is going to will itself to the forefront. It is an act of great faith to sit down and do the work. Keep the faith.

Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros is a Tejana poeta, Chicana, Mujerista from San Antonio, Texas. She is a current MA/MFA student at Our Lady of the Lake University. Her work has appeared in On Being, Sojourners, The Acentos Review, Rock & Sling, and more. She is the 2019 recipient of the Alves Award in Theopoetics. Her chapbook, Becoming Coztototl was recently published by Flowersong Books.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Beautiful. Thank you for your words.