The 2007 NWSA keynote speaker was Sandra Cisneros, a Chicana writer who bases her writing in her life, personal relationships, and Latin@ culture. Her poetry seductive, her prose inquisitive into family secrecy, Cisneros spoke for nearly three and a half hours.
In the span of over three hours, she spanned topics of women of color writing, the writing process, and then shared some of her temporarily unpublished work. Her unmistakable reverence for Gloria Anzaldua was hard to miss, often commenting, "Had we taken better care of her, had a better health care system, Gloria would be here instead of me. She was better with words, theory, and vision. She should be here, not me."
Here are some of her beautiful fireworks that lasted for hours:
We need to take care of writers who suffer from depression and self-destruction.
Some audience members, non-writers I assume, laugh at this, thinking she is joking. She replies:
No, I'm serious. Writers, women of color writers aren't seen as real writers...[we have] all the times we doubted ourselves.
But Gloria, she believed in women of color.
Racism seeps into our psyche and we ourselves begin to believe it.
Depression is about walking to the sea and not drawing attention to yourself. I had to go through the darkness and hang on, hang on. Sometimes you just have to hang on by a thread.
Sometimes you need to leave home to reinvent yourself, especially if home is intolerant of your kind.
There are some questions a daughter can never ask her father.
I thought my novel would force my family to finally sit down and talk, normally. Where only one person talks and the other listens. I'm a bit of an idealist.
I am against Mexiphobia which hides under the guise of homeland security.
I saw a man wearing a tshirt that read, 'If you deport me, who will build the wall?'
I'm a writer, I think for a living. I live my life facing backward.
My brother asked me, 'how do you remember those things?' I said, 'How do you forget?'
There is no "in sum" for Cisneros. Her voice, girl like in delivery, was light but flexible. Sometimes she spoke imitating her characters, pushing them alive. Cisneros loved word, opening depression, and sex. Unashamed, she bares. This was the last note I had scribbled in my notes about listening to this gifted storyteller:
She spoke. If you close your eyes or lose your gaze into the floor, her voice could have been the one in your own head or tuning in to her ponderings aloud, lifted. Like a cloud, her thoughts thickening around me.