I’ve always loved Jimmy Santiago Baca’s poems—leave it to me to feel an affinity for a former addict ex-felon who honed his craft while in prison and was abandoned by his family at a young age. He’s Chicano and Apache, too… so while there are similarities, there are differences, just going to show that literature can often be a universal language. As a white woman, especially while in graduate school, I’ve often been told I didn’t have a right to fully identify with writers of color (and I wasn’t being a good feminist if I did so if they were male writers of color).
But the problem is that many of the experiences I had as a child and young woman (and, even now) are tied to class, not race, and the stark truth is that there have only been brief blips in my economic history in which I’ve risen above lower-middle-class. I’m talking about things like abuse (physical, emotional, psychological), incest (from a close *female* relative, even more taboo of a subject), homelessness, constant financial insecurity, insufficient access to quality health care (including mental health services and women’s health services), a lack of quality role models (both for how to be a person and how to have a decent relationship), and having a constant feeling as though I’d missed a manual everyone else might’ve received at birth entitled “How to be Normal.”
In any case, I’ve shared Santiago Baca’s poetry before, he’s good friends with my writing mentor, and all of his poetry speaks to me, even if on the surface all you see is a white woman with lots of letters behind her name who carries herself as though she’s never known thousands of hardships that left her heart cracked in a way that, if you looked deeper, you’d see forced her to become an expert in kintsugi, which is why she cherishes the wabi-sabi tattoo on her inner right forearm, wabi-sabi being a concept introduced to her by her writing mentor, who first showed her the beauty in the poetry of the man whose words come next. Please enjoy.