By Gloria Muñoz
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others” ― Martha Graham
Years ago, while in college, I had the fortune of studying with poet, Suzanne Gardinier. Her classes not only encouraged me to write towards the edges of my comfort zones–they taught me to write unapologetically, from a place of urgency and purpose, from a place of reflection and understanding, from a place of non-judgement and embrace.
The aforementioned Martha Graham quote was printed at the bottom of Gardinier’s syllabus. I’ve carried these words with me as a reminder of why I write. And, to carry a shimmer of the profound impact her workshop had on my life, I’ve since printed this quote on every syllabus I’ve passed out to my own students to encourage them to keep the channel open.
1. What am I working on?
In life, I am currently working on balancing my time and my desire to have a positive social impact on my community. That is, I want to write while being engaged and connected to the world around me–I think this speaks both to my intentions as a writer and as an individual overall. In terms of my writing projects, I am currently working to finish a book of translated prose poetry and I am working on editing a poetry manuscript so that it is ready to send out to be considered for publication soon. I’m also working with a multidisciplinary group of artists and researchers on an installation that focuses on memory, in every sense of the word.
2. How does my work differ from others in my genre?
My work is born from my perspective and influenced by the cultures, people, time periods, situations and places that are a part of my life–I think this is what makes each writer’s voice unique. I lean more towards writing lyrical poetry focused on underrepresented voices and sociological paradigms. There is an urgency in writing from a place that is deeply embedded in the present while being informed by its past and immediate future. I am interested in topics that resonate across time.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I write what I do because I am able to–because I live in a place and in a time in which I, as a woman and first-generation American have a voice that can be heard. I enjoy writing about things I’m not “supposed” to write about, the contradictory, uncomfortable, and awkwardly stunning moments life presents us with. It is in these hinging moments of tension that I find poems.
4. How does my writing process work?
My writing process is not neat or timely. I simply write when I can, when I am woken up by a poem, when I am pulled away from work, from reading, from sleep or deep conversation, to write. I try to write at least two new pieces per month, although to be honest, I am happy with one. I am always scribbling notes down though, so (if that counts) I write more often than I give myself credit for. I have a notebook that feels more like a watch or a set of keys because I don’t leave home without it. I think everyone should have a notebook.
Gloria Muñoz holds a BA from Sarah Lawrence and an MFA from the University of South Florida. She has been honored by the New York Summer Writer’s Institute Fellowship, the Doris Duke Foundation and the Think Small to Think Big Artist Grant. Her work has appeared in print and online publications including, Acentos Review, Dark Phrases, The Brooklyn Review, Sweet, The Sarah Lawrence Review, The Best New PoetsAnthology, and is forthcoming in Going Om.