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Author Spotlight: Mariella Saavedra Carquin

Audiobook version available

Publisher: June Road Press

Release Date: September 5, 2023


How did your relationship with your family influence your writing?

My mother encouraged my writing. Since I learned to write, I have been journaling and writing free-verse poetry. My family emigrated to the U.S. in 1994 from Peru, and as can be expected with such a big move, my parents struggled financially and in their relationship, along with adjustment to life in the U.S. Since I experienced feelings intensely, my go-to was always writing. To process difficult parts of life, I wrote. I wrote about my parents. The fights. I wrote about being undocumented. I wrote about my love stories. I wrote about how I felt stuck. I wrote about how my family, despite our flaws, was united and uniquely here.

How did writing this book transform you?

It helped me to separate myself from my work. I did it, it’s done, I am separate from it. The editing process, and trusting someone to read and provide edits to my work was a vulnerable process. Once I adjusted to it, it became easier and I enjoyed the feedback and finetuning. Editing is the fun part. Fun and hard. Writing is the catharsis.

What was the impetus for this body of work?

The opportunity presented itself. I saw an open call for submissions by June Road Press (the editor and publisher is a fellow Bread Loaf School of English alum!) and knew that I had to submit a selection of my work. The hard part was coming up with the courage to actually write the email and select the poems. I knew that once I had those two things lined up, the universe would help as needed. My goal was to accomplish that. Everything after that was done step-by-step with self-imposed deadlines and structure to keep myself on track.


You can often tell a lot about a book by how it begins and how it ends. What is the first line and last line of your book?

That’s an interesting premise. The first line of the first poem is “after trauma/ you walk with your eyes/ dead-like in a forward direction” and the last line of the last poem is “are you ready yet/ for movement,/ for a lasting change/ of place?” I hadn’t thought of it, but these lines do tell a lot about my book and about my process of change, the evolution of the book and its arc. It’s about confronting trauma, through any means you have access to, in real life, in dreams, through people, through love and loss. It’s about disorientation, fragmentation, searching for rivers that guide you, and realizing that change takes time, that memory is reimagined, that there is no static place, and movement is all there is- movement and a change of place.



Outside of writing, what are some of your passions or hobbies?

I absolutely love going to art museums. I am inspired everytime I go. I love learning about the artist, where they lived, how fast they lived, how that fastness or slowness shows up in their work, how their lived experiences influenced their work and the mediums they chose to represent those feelings and experiences. I like seeing massive works that make me feel my physicality on this earth- how small I am. I am inspired by these artists’ creativity and it makes me want to create as well.



William Carlos Williams is synonymous with plums. If you had to choose one fruit and one animal/plant/celestial body that would forever remind people of you, what would you choose and why?

I would say pomegranates. I like how they’re hard to eat, how they get stuck in your teeth, how the seeds stain easily. They’re complicated and beautiful and not scared of shining their bright stainful light. I’ve also recently learned that there are ways to cut them that make them much easier to eat. Which is a nice twist.  All my life I never ate a pomegranate. It wasn’t until college that someone gifted one to me and I was surprised at its beautiful shape, like a statue. How curvy and strong it was. I had it in my room as more of a decoration, not knowing how to cut it open or eat it. It wasn’t until my friend reminded me that I could eat it and how, that I decided to. I didn’t know what to make of the insides, so many textures and such patterns, and the staining- everywhere. I like to think that I am like that. I feel intensely, I love intensely, I am sometimes hard to understand, but there are ways, once you learn me, that make it easier. They’re art. I like to think humans are art, that I am art.


What are you currently reading?

I recently finished Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky. I take time to read things. I read for about 15 minutes in the morning. It’s such a fun part of my morning routine. I really enjoyed that book because 1. I am a big fan of Dostoevsky’s works, Tolstoy’s too. 2. I like getting lost in the elaborate story and Russian names. 3. It’s a very psychological book and it’s tense and it’s visceral. I like how I could feel Raskolnikov’s distress and descent. I have just started Britney Spears’ memoir The Woman in Me I’ve been wanting to read it to hear her story in her words. I think the media misportrayed her during her rise to fame and subsequent mental health issues. I am also reading Natalie Gutiérrez’s The Pain We Carry: Healing from Complex PTSD for People of Color it’s a more intense read as it has me reflecting on my life and the trauma I’ve faced. My partner and I actually went to a reading of hers in NYC. We did an activity that had us address somatic symptoms of sadness and anxiety. We went with our nieces and were later able to debrief about the talk we discussed how trauma affects the body, how it’s passed down generationally, how difficult lived experiences stay with us. It was nice to have these open conversations.


Mariella Saavedra Carquin has practiced as a licensed mental health counselor in New York City in clinical, higher education, and middle school settings and now works in integrated primary care at Children’s Hospital Colorado through the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She is a graduate of Middlebury College, holds an EdM and an MA in psychological counseling from Columbia University, and recently earned an MA from Middlebury’s Bread Loaf School of English. In addition to writing poetry, she has published in various academic journals on the psychological impact of microaggressions experienced by undocumented immigrant youth. Born in Lima, Peru, and raised in Miami, Florida, she currently lives in Denver, Colorado. Maps You Can’t Make is her first book.


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