Were you born alone or did you grow up with others? As soon as you gained some sense of discernment, could spell your name and recite the alphabet, read books (what is a chapter book anyway?), were you taught to run your fingers down the roster of words in both dictionary and telephone directory? In an emergency, were you capable of calling the family doctor's number and summoning him, through tears? Come quickly, I think someone here may be dying. You knew the smell of fruit pinched too soon off the branch, of blood bundled into rags and tossed in the trash; the look of skins palpated for fulness or its lack. When you became more shy and introverted, you could understand why others found you strange for preferring prisms blown from soap and the sap of pounded hibiscus leaves. You didn't always remember the distinction between latrine and labyrinth, cold brew and plain iced coffee. But it pleased you when your tongue could unlock the undertones: vanilla, five spice, orange peel, extra anise.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (website) is Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition in Poetry for Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Southern Illinois University Press, September 2020). She was appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia for 2020-22, and in 2021 received 1 of 23 Poet Laureate Fellowships from the Academy of American Poets and the Mellon Foundation. She is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015; she also teaches classes at The Muse Writers’ Center in Norfolk. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.