Migration Pattern: Eloisa Amezcua
Eloisa, you're an accomplished writer — three chapbooks, various fellowships, and many, many
poems. Why do you think writing is so important in this day and age?
Writing, or rather storytelling, is and has been important in all days and ages. I think it begins in a very personal, individual place of wanting to be heard, to be remembered. But right now, it feels like there’s a collective energy, an urgency to fight the historical silencing of our stories and to push back against an alternative narrative that has been and is being written for us, particularly of marginalized voices.
How did you first start writing, and what is it that keeps you doing it?
I was somewhat late to the game and didn’t start writing until my second year of undergrad. I’d taken a Modern American Poetry literature course with Jericho Brown and the following semester he asked me to join his workshop, which I [hesitatingly] did. I’m not too sure what keeps me writing but I think that’s the point. If I knew why I wrote, why I was writing, I could probably stop and be happy with the knowing. It’s the not knowing when I arrive to the page that pushes me.
Your literary journal The Shallow Ends has received quite a number of submissions, with a
diverse range of voices — what motivated you to start this journal? Fast-forward five years; what
does the journal look like?
I wanted to build a space where poets of all stages in their careers, all backgrounds, all identities, could be heard, and I think it’s been a successful (almost) first year thus far! I’ve been so fortunate to get to work with such brilliant and talented poets, and there are so many more to come—it’s all very exciting. I’m not too sure what the journal will look like five years from now other than that it’ll remain a “one poem, once a week” concept with a few exceptions here and there (…we’ve got something really beautiful for the one-year anniversary…). I hope to take on an assistant editor in the near future and secure some funding to pay contributors. Expanding the readership is always on my mind but building a community rooted in the shared love of words is and will remain my main focus.
How do you overcome literary rejection?
My mantra when I get a rejection letter is: it’s not personal. I like to think and hope that’s the case. I don’t want to say I’m numb to rejection (some letters hurt more than others for whatever reason), but the more of them I get, the quicker I can move past them and keep doing the work, whether that means sending out five more submissions or finally picking up a book that I’ve been wanting to read.
Who are your top three writers, and why?
The impossible question. I can list my top three favorite foods (spaghetti pomodoro, tacos al pastor, pizza) or my top three late 90s/early-aughts singles (“Jumpin Jumpin,” “Digital Get Down,” “I’m Real (Murder Remix)”) but top three poets… I’ll give you three poems that have recently meant a lot to me all for their words, but “Taking It” by Vievee Francis in Muzzle for its vulnerability; “Domestic Violence” by Roger Reeves in POETRY for its scope/scale; and “She Had Some Horses” by Joy Harjo for its form.
In recent years, there's been a huge recognition-driven push between young and emerging
writers; writers find it difficult to reach out to other writers unless they have some sort of
recognition/number of publications. Have you ever witnessed this firsthand? If so, how do you deal
I once reached out to a revered, award-winning poet whom I saw read at an AWP offsite event to let her know that her reading, and one poem in particular, had stayed with me for months and thanking her for her words. I didn’t write to her expecting a response, not because I was a stranger with few publications that she’d never heard of, but because I could only imagine how busy she was. To my surprise, she got back to me and said some really nice things, but what struck me the most was that she said: “Far too often there is someone listening who — for some reason — thinks I don't need to know what they heard. I did! I do! This means everything to me.”
I don’t care how many publications you have or what awards you’ve won, if you have a way of contacting someone who inspires you, do it. And just in case, keep the "it’s not personal mantra" on standby.
Currently, you're serving as a mentor for Adroit's mentorship program — why do you think
mentoring young/emerging writers/poets is necessary?
I’m not sure I think it’s “necessary” for young writers to be mentored per se — there are many paths to writing, and having a mentor/mentee relationship is one of them. The reason I was drawn to Adroit’s program in particular is the idea that mentors and mentees are collaborating and learning from each other.
While us mentors are building the syllabi and critiquing our mentees’ poems, we are by no means grading them or assigning a “value” to their work the way one might in a formal/academic setting. In working with Vivian Lu this summer (whose work is absolutely stunning, by the way), I hope to approach her writing with love, joy, and compassion so that we may both continue to grow into the writers (and mentors/teachers/people) we want to be.
Can you tell us a little bit about what's next in store for you, writing-wise?
I’m working on a collection of boxing poems and just started a new translation project of the
contemporary Mexican poet Mariel Damián! Otherwise, lots of reading. That’s a huge part of my writing process.
Is there anything else you'd like to tell us?
Be kind, to yourself first, then to others.