Hispanic Heritage Month at the Southern & Dobson campus concluded with the Versos Latinos event on Oct. 14 overlooking campus from the Navajo Room.
Versos Latinos featured poet Diana Marie Delgado reading from her new book “Late Night Talks with Men I Think I Trust.”
Delgado graduated from Columbia University before settling in Tucson and becoming the literary director of the University of Arizona Poetry Center.
Delgado read from her chapbook of poetry, which won the Letterpress Poetry Award in 2015.
The MesaCC Legend caught up with the author on campus to ask about her new book, her work and her influences.
Q: When choosing poems for this reading, what factors played into your selections?
A: I tend to choose the poems I’m about to read beforehand, and I typically make those choices based on poems that people ask the most about. I also like to take the opportunity to share a bit about a poem before I read it, especially for those who are new to the work and don’t know a whole lot about my work as a poet. And I always leave a little room for surprise!
Q: How has the move from New York informed any new work you may be writing? How do you find Tucson and Arizona?
A: I’m enjoying the long streaks of sunshine and the desert. After spending 13 years in NYC, I was ready for a change that brought me closer to my family in Los Angeles and afforded me a little bit more time to read and write. Tucson is a great place for me, and I’m still building my community and family here, and [I] am looking forward to many more years in Arizona.
Q: Your work seems to draw from three key motifs: the working class, nature, and religion. Is religion in your work a rejection of the religion of your youth?
A: Growing up Catholic, you engage with a lot of ritual and performance, and I’m thankful for the structure of that religion, the structure that it gave me as a young girl. But like many things in my youth, I do question the degree to which it stunted my ability to be a more free person who is not ashamed to be themselves. The problem with many religions is there are so many rules!
Q: The symbols of nature that appear in your work, such as horses, are diverse and add a cultural flair to your work. Which geography that you lived in do you think most influenced this symbol set?
A: Mexico, San Juan Nayarit, and the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California are the geographies that reoccur in my poetry, and dreams. They show up in my work even when I want to say, “Stop, think of a different place.” My mind is at rest in those places, I guess.
Q: It seems a lot of your poems deal with the affects men have had on your life. How do you reconcile the feelings you may have towards individuals with your right and agency to speak your truth?
A: I prioritize myself these days. In the beginning, as a young girl, you can’t. And that’s unfortunately the truth. I think it’s important to recognize those earlier limitations in order to acquire more agency as you become older. That’s one of the great things about becoming older: you become more free and are able to speak your mind more freely without caution.
Q: Are there any parts of the process that you find agonizing?
A: All of it is agonizing. But there’s always a shard of peace that comes from a job well done, and that’s the search. That’s what it’s all for, for that peace that comes with coming against a challenge and conquering it.
Students who missed Delgado on campus can catch her readings at Changing Hands in Phoenix on Oct. 25 or at Borderlands Brewery in Tucson on Oct. 30.
Delgado can also be found online at www.dianamariedelgado.com. Her book “Late Night Talk with Men I Think I Trust” can also be found online.