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Author Spotlight: Adrian Ernesto Cepeda

FlowerSong Press

November 2023

156 pages

ISBN: 9781953447203


What living poet/writer had the biggest influence on your book?

Sandra Cisneros. Her novels, stories and poems have reconnected her lifelong creative belief, “People know when you're speaking from el corazón. You have that pain. Take that pain and do something with it. That's very powerful.”

The heart of La Lengua Inside Me would not be here if it wasn’t for Sandra Cisneros. She inspired me to write using mi corazon. Her palabras y avisos gave me the courage to tell my story in bilingual poems. Because of Cisernos’s inspiration, I can attest La Lengua Inside Me came to life because as poetas Latinx we define success differently than poets from other lands, lenguas y culturas. By showing my life within these bilingual poems, I am sharing how the personal can be powerfully inspiring to those in our culture and poets wanting to write their own story using their own bilingual lengua.


What are some key themes present in your book?

Speaking from the heart, familia, la politica, amor. My goal was to inspire the reader with my own sense of empowerment. By showing myself, my life, my family, my fears, joys, griefs, and experiences, I can connect with readers and inspire others to use their own creativity to create their stories.

Can you describe the environment(s) where you wrote your book? This could be the room, the desk, the city, an MFA program, a fellowship, or any other environmental factor (you only wrote when it rained, you always wrote with fresh flowers in the room, etc.).


We live in a tiny two room apartment in LA. One is our bedroom, and the other is my writing office. My wife insisted on creating this workspace for me to create my poems, stories and book.

Above my desk is a blue crystal that holds the ashes of my late mother. Mi Mami was one of my most devoted and dedicated champions of my work. Sadly, she did live to see any of my six books published. So now with her crystal she watches over me as I craft my poems and this was where she saw me write, revise and edit La Lengua Inside Me. Something happens when I am in my chair, in this space, this is where the magic happens. When my fingers touch the key, it’s like music in my creative mind. La Lengua Inside Me was one of the most challenging and is the book I am most proud of. I couldn’t have written La Lengua Inside Me in any other space. I needed my mother watching me write, she gives me strength when I am writing my most daunting poems. My office is also where I have my record player. I spin LPs and La Lengua Inside Me could not have been written without the help of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, The Beatles, Lana Del Rey and so many others. My workspace harnesses my creativity. I am lucky to have this space in our tiny 2 room apartment.

What’s your favorite line(s) from your book?

from “If Heaven had waiting horas” page 57


“entering on el otro lado de la puerta—


we could overhear the joyful

abrazos, tears and such powerful

light coming from the other


side. Restlessly waiting. I can

already hear you telling me

paciencia mi hijo


The idea of there being a waiting room in heaven. Mi Mami helped me write this and her voice came to me while I was crafting this poem.


From “I Love Him Madly” page 68


“mi Papi


I always read him

as ageless, he is like


a Miles Davis trumpet

that sits there floating”


“Madly” is the last poem I wrote for my new book and was one of my favorites that I wrote while listening to the 32.13 minute Miles Davis classic “He Loved Him Madly.” Miles and missing mi Papi inspired my favorite lines and this poem which is one the best in La Lengua Inside Me.


From “My Boss Called Me Taco” page 100




seeing me as food, I am more

than comida— mi furia

is picante, my sangre does

not bleed salsa.”


In this country, some see us only as food, and this poem, a true story, is empowering and shows how I am proud of our culture while standing up to cultural stereotypes.


How did your relationship with your family influence your writing?

Mi Papi, Mami, Abuelito, Abuelita, hermano are all in this book. I was always a rebel and for many years felt like an outcast in my family and in our culture. Writing the poems in this book, I honored my family in so many pages of La Lengua Inside Me. My family and our memories together came rushing out on the page. I am so proud to honor mi familia in this book. They inspire me daily. The laughs, the memories, everything about our past and how we were raised inspires and will continue to inspire my work for years to come.

Is there a connection to your past in your book?

La Lengua Inside Me helped me heal and face some and many incidents of my past with my family, dealing with feeling like an outsider in our culture and in this country. My stutter which I had been ashamed of for so many years, appears in the first and last poem of the book. Writing La Lengua Inside Me, I realized that my stutter is my superpower. It helped empower me to face and write about many obstacles I have overcome like my stutter, being seen as comida, needing to renew my passport for fears of ICE and overcoming moments of heartbreak. Showing these vulnerable sides of my life in these poems might be frightening but the hope is that it also shows that my personal past will connect universally with my readers,


Do you have any advice for new and emerging writers? Is there anything you wish you knew?

You must read. Everything.


Cultivate a Creative Community. Support each other. Buy each other’s books. Hold readings with your favorite poets. Post about your fellow poets/writers books.


Write as if it is you calling. Fall in Love with Writing as if writing was your lover or mistress. Be seduced by what you read and write on the page.


Keep submitting your work.

Believe in yourself.

If it was easy, everyone would be writing as a life career.

Rejection is part of the craft.

Benecio Del Toro said it best, “Turn down the volume of your Expectations,

and turn up the volume of your Perseverance.”



Adrian Ernesto Cepeda is the author of Flashes & Verses… Becoming Attractions from Unsolicited Press, Between the Spine from Picture Show PressSpeaking con su Sombra with Alegría Publishing, La Belle Ajar & We Are the Ones Possessed from CLASH Books and his 6th poetry collection La Lengua Inside Me with FlowerSong Press. 

Adrian lives with his wife in Los Angeles with their adorably spoiled cat Woody Gold.


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