[dropcap]S[/dropcap]he may not be writing her stories on typewriters these days, but author Sandra Cisneros has never stopped writing. She only has one requirement to do so though, and that’s a space of her own where she can be comfortable enough to let the words flow from her pen. In her new book, “A House of My Own-Stories from My Life,” Cisneros shared many of these moments. In this, her collection of essays, Cisneros lets readers into her private spaces, from Greece to Chiapas, Mexico.
“People think I only write when a book comes out,” she told EXTRA via a telephone interview from New Mexico. “When I was writing ”House,” I was writing ”Wicked Ways” too; and then in my 30s, I took a job in Texas and I was the director of a literature program and I found myself with writers and started interviewing them,” she added, sprinkling Spanish here and there to express herself. “Things were all over the place, and I knew they were hard to find and I was losing them, and I wanted them all in one place,” she added, regarding her latest work.
“It’s hard for me to work when I don’t have my own space and quiet and I have been living in an interim apartment right now waiting for my house to be ready. I cannot understand working at airports. I don’t want to wear a bra or tight shoes, just my huipil,” a traditional dress worn by indigenous women in Central Mexico, and one of Cisneros’ favorite items. She added, “And barefoot, sitting at a table where no one can interrupt me for six hours. When I’m on the road, I jot notes until I get home.”
She related how, over the years, she had to borrow typewriters while traveling, “I had fights over typewriters and in Chiapas used them at the typing school,” she said. “In the meantime, I used a piece of paper and a pen, just to revise. When I needed a clean final copy, I needed a typewriter,” she reminisced.
When asked how she finally got the courage to leave her parent’s home as a young woman in a traditional Mexican family, she said, “I kind of just did it poco a poco (little by little). I wasn’t that brave; I was just going to go away to graduate school. I gently disobeyed my father. I picked a grad school that was out of Chicago. I liked living alone. I told my father I needed quiet. I had to fight with my father for that space. I compromised and I ended up living in the basement of a building he owned and my brother lived two floors above, but he turned out to be worse than my father,” she shared.
Often classified as a Chicana writer, Cisneros said that she doesn’t mind. Cisneros’ books are among those by Latino writers whose works have been banned in Arizona schools. “It’s a privileged place to speak from,” and added, “I’m an American writer, a Mexican writer; I’m a Mexican-American writer. I’m a Chicana writer. I’m a feminist writer. Depending on who I want to represent, and I think at this time with anti-immigrant sentiments, we want to speak up for those who are most oppressed. And who better than we as Latinas who have in our blood the blood of indigenous women? We are native women. We belong and we’re born here. We are from the Americas. We have blood from Europe as well. We are from the whole globe. We have African blood in us. We have European blood in us. We have indigenous blood in us. So who better to speak in this time when societies are so afraid of each other, to build bridges and to understand and communicate to those communities that are polarized by the other? Who better? Who’s wiser? Who’s the authority on being the ambassadors of everyone, if not Latinas? I am many things,” said Cisneros. “All you need is ánimo, which is courage but with a push,” she added.
Sandra Cisneros will be at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago for book readings and autographs on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 14 and 15. Follow her on Instagram @officialsandracisneros.
This post is also available in: Spanish