In the Spotlight

Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano

Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano

Location: San Francisco, CA

Member Since: 2010

About: A Queer Xicano writer of Rarámuri descent, Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano is the author of Santo de la Pata Alzada: Poems from the Queer/Xicano/Positive Pen and co-author of Tragic Bitches: An Experiment in Queer Xicana & Xicano Performance Poetry. He is the editor of Queer Codex: Chile Love, an anthology of visual and literary works by queer men of color from across the U.S.; Queer Codex: Rooted, a mix-genre anthology by queer women and trans-identified writers and visual artists; and the forthcoming Joto: An Anthology of Queer Xicano & Chicano Poetry. His work appears in Mariposas: A Modern Anthology of Queer Latino Poetry, as well as the journals ZYZZYVA and Yellow Medicine Review. He is the founder of Kórima Press, an independent Queer Chicana/o and Xicana/o press.

What is the first book you loved?
Reinaldo Arenas’ Antes Que Anochezca (Before Night Falls)

What is the first book you hated?
Gabriel García Márquez’ Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude). I know this makes me a bad Latino, but I just couldn’t.

What is one book you think should be required reading for young people?
Helena María Viramontes’ Under the Feet of Jesus

What book could you read again and again?
Sandra Cisneros’ Loose Woman

And never again?
The Bible. Having grown up Catholic, Baptist, Evangelical, and Pentecostal (consecutively), I’m pretty sure I’ve read it enough times.

What is your guilty pleasure book?
George Carlin’s When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? Carlin always makes my atheist heart smile.

If you could be any literary character, who would you be? 
Gertrudis De La Garza, from Laura Esquivel’s Como Agua para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate). She was defiant, irreverent, and in her skin.

What is your favorite line from a book?
“We are the ones
dark/babies of the Mother     
tortured Spirits
come ta
claim our legacies
and dance
in yo face…”
            -- Sharon Bridgforth, voices in the dark

What are you reading right now?
tatiana de la tierra’s For the Hard Ones: A Lesbian Phenomenology / Para las Duras: Una Fenomenología Lesbiana. It’s a classic of the great Colombian lesbian writer who too recently transitioned into spirit.

Where do you get your best reading recommendations?
From fellow writers, and, sporadically, NPR.

What do your books look like once you’ve finished reading them?
My books look and feel read, with dog-eared pages, leaves I used as bookmarks, and the occasional stranger’s number.

Who encouraged you to be a writer?
The first person to encourage me to write was Gary Soto, whom I met at a bilingual education conference in 1998.

When and where do you do your best work?
I find that my creativity blossoms most when I am under deadline to complete a non-creative task (e.g. grant writing, academic writing). Poetry has always been an escape.

Describe your writing process.
As a young person, my dream was to become a songwriter. To this day, most poems I’ve written have been inspired by the flow of a certain melody, or a song that takes me back to the place I long to write about or for. I have never completed a poem in longhand out of fear that my motor skills will fail me and the best line I ever thought of will go unwritten and be forgotten.

Is there a particular writer whose style you would like to emulate? A particular writer you’d like to meet?
I am a lover of Pablo Neruda and Reinaldo Arenas. I find myself straddling literary obsessions for both, though I most lament that I will never be one of Arenas’ lovers.

Who do you follow online?
I am a big fan of “Pluma Fronteriza,” a literary blog out of El Paso, TX, and curated by Ray E. Rojas; La Bloga, curated by several Latina/o writers; and Linda Rodriguez’ blog out of Kansas City, MO.

What is the greatest compliment you could ever receive about your writing?
That it matters.

What does your office or writing space look like?
I am an ambulant writer. Wherever my laptop goes, I go.

What are the books you would take with you on a trip?
Eduardo C. Corral’s Slow Lightning, Cherríe L. Moraga’s Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness, and Marvin K. White’s Our Names Be Witness.

What are you working on right now?
The manuscript I have been working on for the past few years, Chicharrón of My Inhibitions, is a collection of poems that explore a queer Xicano politic of desire through pop culture, Mexican colloquialisms, and pre-colonial iconography.

Share a favorite AWP conference moment.
Catching Nikky Finney outside the hotel Starbucks.