Author Erika L. Sánchez wears many hats: poet, journalist, activist, Cosmopolitan for Latinas sexpert. In both her creative and journalist work, she's written extensively on issues affecting women today such as reproductive rights, LGBT youth, migrant workers, and Latino politicians. Rosebud had the good fortune of meeting Erika in Austin, Texas, where they both attended the 2013 CantoMundo retreat. In selecting our inaugural poet for the KORE BITERS feature, Erika was the perfect choice.
What was your last bite? Torta de mole. It was delicious!
You wear a lot of different hats: poet, journalist, sex columnist, burgeoning novelist. How do you juggle these passions? I'm also working full-time as a strategist focused on sexual and reproductive rights. I think I'm going to develop a hunch back and carpal tunnel. I'm exhausted and my anxiety is through the roof. I'll have to start holding up my eyelids with toothpicks pretty soon. I'm always working, and when I'm not, I'm thinking and dreaming about it. I'm super Mexican like that. I'm terrible at balance, so I hope things get a little easier in the next coming months. Pray for me, please!
What is talisman? What is taboo? Larry Levis always gets my creative juices going. If my brain is feeling clogged, his poetry often works wonders. Nothing is off limits to me when it comes to writing. I'm a shameless troublemaker. My mother always used to tell me "Cómo te gusta la mala vida." She was right.
What story/narrative/myth would you rewrite? I'm tired of reading about la Malinche, so it would be an interesting challenge to rewrite it somehow. I've also been reading the Popol Vuh and trying to incorporate it into my poetry.
What is a creative strategist? As a creative strategist, I elevate social justice issues through research, writing, and media strategies. Basically, I write a ton.
How do you define border? A wound.
Name four poets you'd want in your coven. Larry Levis, Emily Dickinson, Federico García Lorca, and Anna Akhmatova.
Writing prompt: 100 Things Worth Living For I got this one from a professor. All you do is write a list of 100 things worth living for. It worked really well the first and second time I did it. I came up with all sorts of precise images. You will get very obscure and surprise yourself. It may seem easy, but it gets difficult after a while. You'll definitely have to do some digging and reflecting.
Tip: I took a craft class with Traci Brimhall at Bread Loaf recently and she suggested that when a poem is feeling stale, you should try replacing some words with their opposites. Easy and brilliant!
Erika L. Sánchez is a Fulbright and Bread Loaf Scholar, CantoMundo Fellow, and winner of the “Discovery”/Boston Review Prize. Her poetry has appeared in Pleiades, Witness, Hunger Mountain, Crab Orchard Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Copper Nickel, diode, Boston Review, “Latino USA” on NPR, and is forthcoming in Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poems for the Next Generation (Penguin 2015). She is also currently the sex and love advice columnist for Cosmopolitan for Latinas, and has contributed to The Guardian, NBC News, Rolling Stone, Al Jazeera, Truthout, Salon, and Cosmopolitan.com.