WORST AMOCO TEXAS ‘mart every letter of the alphabet, all of them written in words in alphabetical order. After writing 30 poems in 30 days, I’m a little glad to be over that experiment. But I really like them. They are a zen practice, a commitment to the moment and craft. As for writing, and writing well, the more the better. It takes a lot of tending of crocus bulbs to produce enough saffron for the paella. TO: How does motherhood affect your craft? LDC: It was listening to a lecture given by the fiction writer, Helena Maria Viramontes, at U.C. Irvine years ago, that got me to thinking how so often a woman’s Muse takes the form of her children; whereas for a man, the Muse typically takes the form of a young and strikingly beautiful woman, usually with long flowing hair. \(Silent laughown mortality that affects my craft. Motherhood will put you there, especially single motherhood: My Greatest Fearrealized. Single motherhood, to me, meant poverty and no less than the death of the self. I thought I would never write again, at least not well. What I wasn’t prepared for was that overwhelming, ever-present fear for my child, a paper in the throat that never goes away. It rubs off in a concern for my own physical well-being, especially as I embarked upon this journey at 40, much older than most moms. The sense that there is no one to care for my child if something should happen to methis rubs off in my attitude about my writing and the books. I have to write them now. I have to finish them. I have to get the poems on and off the pageas there is no one to care for them should something happen to me. I think we do some of our best writing after motherhood, those of us who can, because we can and we have to; just look at Cherrie Moraga, Ana Castillo, Helena, Alma Villanueva, and others. For different reasons. But there is a need to leave something solid and lasting, and worthy of the time it takes in the creation. TO: What are your hopes for poetry in the 21st century? LDC: I would hope that it would be recognized as the rare and valuable process that it is. Rare not in the elitist sense or the collector’s mentality of inventory, but in the face of the fact that any activity which allows you the leisure and pleasure to take total control over any process from beginning, middle to end is a rarity in this day and age when we are stuck making parts of things. We serve on the side in a side role, or we sit and suffer in our cubiclesour souls stuffed quietly into cubbiesand make possible the machinations of an invisible empire, as was pointed out by one of my early mentors \(in head and heart Stanley Kunitz, in his prose book, A Kind of Order, A Kind of Folly. But you are asking the wrong person this question. I’m a home girl, not a hoper. I don’t hope or wish for anything. I believe in history. And in the force of truth. I believe in the power of language. I believe in the power of good poetry toin the words of Carlos Santana about musicrearrange your molecules. For the betterI would hope. Celeste Guzman Mendoza is a poet and freelance writer based in Austin. the ig picture on Texas? If you’re depending on the mainstream media, you’re just getting a snapshot. If you’re getting The Texas Observer, you’re getting crucial, in-depth reporting and commentary that provides a view of Texas and the nation found nowhere else. TheTexas Observer These reporters get it. You need to get it too. SUBSCRIBE TO THE OBSERVER www.texasobserver.org 800-930-6620 24 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JULY 28, 2006
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