in a panel on identity: one talks-story about being born in the '40s to parents who had to skip to a different state to get married. Fair enough, she could pass for white; but also got told how lucky she was to get lead roles in school plays and musicals (when it was West Side Story or Pocahontas). Another shares that he's just gone through divorce (so American!) which doesn't sit well with the older generation of church-going immigrants—the same ones who tried to keep their children from learning their native tongue so they could become more American. (And let's have a conversation about something besides noodles and egg rolls.) The one in the middle chooses her words carefully, says it's taken her all this time (decades!) to arrive at an understanding: she has to seek out those like her—queer; or they don't tick the boxes, not even "other"— who refuse to be seen by their own. The fourth tells of the long, circuitous route to get away from stethoscope or scalpel, and instead to brushes and color swatches. Everyone in this town seems to have a maritime connection, a giant wooden spoon and fork, a saint in velvet and gold filigree taking up space on the walls. The youngest of them wants to write stories and poems about the in-between, where the light can glance off surfaces in so many ways and in so many beautiful directions, none of them merely resembling brown, none of them merely falling like leaves to be raked over, season after season.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (website) is the 2023 Immigrant Writing Series prize winner for Caulbearer: Poems (due out from Black Lawrence Press in 2024), and 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.