VIDA Reads with Writers — Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo!
What are you reading on the subway or in the waiting room today?
Mañana Means Heaven (University of Arizona Press, 2013) by Tim Z. Hernandez
My favorite book of the last couple of years is probably Gabi, A Girl in Pieces (Cinco Punto Press, 2014) by Isabel Quintero. I loved it so much, I taught it to my high school creative writing class and brought her in to speak to my students. They were so jazzed to meet “Gabi.” I also recently got introduced to the work of René Colato Lainez. I bought his newest book, Mamá the Alien (Children’s Book Press, 2016) for my own mother as a birthday gift. I think the joy he is bringing new immigrant children, and children of immigrants, is so beautiful, especially considering how much hate and fear there is in the political rhetoric right now.
Whose words do you return to regularly?
I often think, What would Michele Serros do? I returned to Chicana Falsa (Riverhead Trade, 1998) a few times while fine tuning my own first poetry collection. I love how she had no pretension, and she was proud of who she was. She made it feel easy. Thinking of her work and her journey calms me when I get anxious about my own book release. I’m sad I never got a chance to meet her before she passed away.
Is there an author you can’t wait to read next?
I’m excited for Wendy C. Ortiz’s newest book, Bruja, due out in October from Civil Coping Mechanism Press. I loved her first memoir, Excavation (Future Tense Books, 2014). She does some very exciting things with the genre, and I’m interested to see what she does in what is being called a “dreamoir.”
What are you working on now? What can VIDA fans look forward to from you next?
My first poetry collection, Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge, is due out October 15, 2016 from Sundress Publications. The collection celebrates my family’s immigration story from Jalisco, Mexico to Los Angeles, CA in the 1950s and brings visibility to current immigration stories and atrocities occurring along the Arizona-Mexico border. I’m also working on my first novel, which tells the story of “Curly’s wife,” the nameless character killed at the end of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. In my retelling, Nora Davila is the daughter of Mexican migrant workers who is forced to marry a gabacho landowner when her parents are deported during an INS sweep.
Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo is a 2016-2017 Steinbeck Fellow and a former Poets & Writers California Writers Exchange winner and Barbara Deming Memorial Fund grantee. She has received residencies from Hedgebrook and Ragdale Foundation, and is a member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop. She has work published in Acentos Review, CALYX, crazyhorse, and The James Franco Review among others. A short dramatization of her poem “Our Lady of the Water Gallons,” directed by Jesús Salvador Treviño, can be viewed at latinopia.com. Cofounder of Women Who Submit and curator of the reading series HITCHED, her debut poetry collection is forthcoming from Sundress Publications this October.