What Makes You a Poet Is How You Put It Back Together | A Conversation with Celia Lisset Alvarez

Editorial Note: Isabella Sanchez interviewed Celia Lisset Alvarez for my Poetry Writing II course at The University of Tampa in Spring 2021. I find their conversation incredibly engaging and meaningful, and I’m grateful for them allowing me to share it here. Isa wrote the following introduction.

Cuban American scholar and poet Celia Lisset Alvarez is an author of books like The Stones, Shapeshifting, and most recently Multiverse. This interview focused on her 2006 book Shapeshifting. Her writing takes on a narrative technique as it tells her personal story and expresses her feelings of frustration as a young adult in grade school. The book includes poems that rely on strong imagery as they talk about her heritage, family, love, and struggles. Some main points discussed in the interview focused on the Hispanic representation in the writing community, the challenges one faces while in the writing community, the craft behind a book, writing techniques, and being raw on paper. The interview eventually took up on a path where we focused more about the idea of a poet and how there is just not one way to be or do things as a poet. As Celia Lisset Alvarez said: “It’s really not anything special that makes you a poet, what makes you a poet is how you put it back together” and “I’m going to put it on the page whatever it looks like to me, whether is grim or depressing or insulting or beautiful or moving or whatever it is, I think that is going to become my goal in writing to write the truth as I see it.”

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