Hello everyone! My name is Eliza Marie Perez, but most people call me Ellie. I’m a senior Communication major and Creative Writing minor. I’m a Chicana who grew up in the Rio Grande Valley in a city a few minutes from Mexico. Although I’d love to say I speak fluent formal Spanish because of this, I don’t. I speak informal Spanish, Spanglish, Tex-Mex, along with different Pachuco slang I’ve picked up from my dad. Hopefully all these will help at my new internship at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center.
Despite working a 32 hour work week this semester (not including classes), I’m trying to make time for things I’m interested in, like reading, baking, and poetry. When I was young I was an avid reader, subscribing to scholastic monthly book programs, saving up money to buy the latest comic, or simply listening to my mother tell me stories in Spanish. Now that I’m older, I feel like I’m usually adding more books to my to read list than I’m reading, but hopefully I can change that soon. Nonetheless, this love of reading also nurtured a love for writing and storytelling that I never noticed until high school. After that I began writing more, starting with creative nonfiction and fiction and then moving on to poetry where I fell in love with poets that seamlessly switched from one language to another in their poems. Though I won’t be pursuing a Master of Fine Arts for Creative Writing anytime soon, I do hope to continue writing and maybe one day even have some of my work published in journals.
Ideally, though, I want to have a career in the publishing industry – if I let myself dream, then maybe even opening my own small press would be amazing. As a young woman of color who loves to read and write, I’m always disappointed and saddened when I read stories about the lack of diversity in publishing and how many writers of color are rejected because there’s simply not an audience. Obviously, as many can attest to, there is. I think many books that were influential to me, like Gloria Anzaldua’s Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza or poetry by Carmen Tafolla and Sandra Cisneros, should be something that we learn about along with all the other classics constantly taught to us in schools. I’d like to eventually help in making the publishing industry more diverse to include all different types of stories by various types of people all sharing their truths.
I think technology has been a great asset in helping people share their stories or testimonies with the world, maybe not always directly, but I believe it’s helped in preserving stories and histories. I may not be a completely tech savvy person (my laptop has died on me more than once and now it’s falling apart), but I do use the internet and social media fairly often. I think people may have doubts about technology, worries that we’re far too reliant on it, but I think it has helped people connect with each other in a fast and simple manner that letters just can’t do. My uncles who live worlds away from their homeland of Mexico can easily stay up-to-date on what’s happening with family in San Luis Potosi, siblings who would rarely talk if not for social media and email can now share photos, music, and more with each other. I also think it’s a great way to expand your world when you don’t have any other means of doing so. At our fingertips we have books, music, online classes, anything we can think to expand and supplement what we know and I think that’s amazing. Sure you may have to weed out some not so stellar websites, but the internet and technology in general can be a useful tool for communication, however I’m always a bit wary of how much information is collected about me and how easily this information can be found. I think in the future I’ll be using technology much like I am now, but hopefully I’ll know much more like how to use InDesign and be using tech, in general, to collect, preserve, and write stories.
Shameless plug, nonetheless, we’re having an art exhibition and concert at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center this weekend called Dulce Vigilante: Remembrances of the Western Region of Puerto Rico, stories in song by Lourdes Perez. So if you’re interested in music or art you should definitely go!
For more information, head over to the Esperanza Center website (student rate is $8).
And for more information on women of color writers check out Aunt Lute Books, a multicultural press.