Several weeks ago, Nayelly Barrios shared with me how her experience at Squaw Valley this past summer was very valuable. Specifically, the poetry workshops held there every summer. Barrios also mentioned that, in addition to having a productive week at the poem-a-day week-long gathering, she met Sara Borjas, a poet from Fresno who completed her MFA at UC Riverside this past spring. Having in mind that Nayelly is set to complete her MFA at McNeese State University next spring,Letras Latinas Blog pitched the idea of a conversation between these two MFA-ers*—specifically, about their experience at Squaw.
Among other attendees at the Squaw Valley workshop, in recent years, have been: Angel N. Garcia, Ruben Quesada, Marcelo Hernández Castillo, Blas Falconer, and Javier Zamora. Are we before a case of a well-kept secret among Latino/a poets? Whatever the case, I think you’ll find Nayelly's and Sara's charla engaging and, in a way, moving. Here are two poets not shying away from articulating what many artists often experience as they move through the world, but perhaps aren’t so ready to admit.
Regarding that asterisk: Letras Latinas Blog is posting this conversation the same week that the Letras Latinas Writers Initiative (one aspect of it, on Facebook) has launched. Both Nayelly and Sara, in their capacity as MFA candidate, and recent MFA graduate, respectively, are part of that gesture, as well. In fact, this very dialogue you are about to read embodies what the Letras Latinas Writers Initiative aims to foment: spaces—both virtual and physical—of mutual support and risk-taking, where the practice of art is concerned—among those Latino/a writers who have entered the academy to further their training.
Institute for Latino Studies
University of Notre Dame