Author Spotlight: S. Salazar
| Kelsay Books | 08/31/2023 | ISBN: 978-1-63980-408-5 |
How did you get into writing? Can you pinpoint a memory where it all began for you?
In 7th grade English class, I was assigned to read a variety of poems. Then, we were tasked with writing a whole book of poems. I designed my own little book with construction paper and crimpy scissors and everything. Pasted my poems and illustrated the pages. I remember having so much fun. And at this moment, it really solidified in my mind that poetry was the perfect marriage between visual and literary arts. No matter how far I drifted away from poetry, I always got pulled back for this reason.
What living poet/writer had the biggest influence on your book?
The living poets who most greatly influenced my book are Ada Limón, Alberto Rios, and Karla Cordero. Their free verse work is so clever and nostalgic. Excellent form and style. I have learned so much from them.
What are some key themes present in your book?
The key themes in my book are Latinx Diaspora (specifically Puerto Rican diaspora), language (or lack thereof), generational trauma, mental illness, and identity.
How did your relationship with your family influence your writing?
Both my relationships and disconnections to those relationships influence my writing. I write a lot about generational trauma, inherited trauma, and disenfranchised grief. Disenfranchised grief is an uncommon form of grief that isn’t always understood by others. In my instance, I write about grieving mis abuelos, who both died before I was born. I grieve never knowing or learning from them. Because of the loss and tragedies that impacted their lives, and the lives of mis tios and my dad, I write a lot about generational trauma, and for a future collection, I’ll be diving more deeply into the idea of inherited trauma: traumas which are passed down through our DNA and impact us in ways science is just beginning to understand. Roots, or fragmented ones, impact our identity, and those stories are the ones I feel compelled to write.
How did writing this book transform you?
This book transformed everything about me. I came into this project asking myself “Am I Puerto Rican? Can I write about being what I’ve never learned?” and left with a published book declaring to the world “I’m a mixed Puerto Rican. I’m on the Spanglish struggle bus. I make a mean pollo guisado. And I am diaspora.”
Community and friendship are sustaining factors for many writers. Give a shout out to some of the folks who have held and supported you in your writing life.
Shout out to mis abuelos, mis tios, and Dad. Without their love and storytelling, there’d be no book. I’m as much their legacy as they are mine.
All on Instagram:
@jose_hdz_dz @davinafalegria @alegriapublishing @kams_conchispas @noelle__salazar @palomaalcantar_
I’d also like to thank The Station Coffee House on Beacon Hill @thestationcoffeeshop for giving me the space to share my words via book launch. I’ll be reading on September 30th with guest readers Clara Olivo and Ricardo Ruiz.
Do you have any advice for new and emerging writers? Is there anything you wish you knew?
Write anyway. Regardless of what you’ve been told about your skill or your background, write anyway. Seek every and all opportunities to learn and grow. Be open to feedback, but don’t let it drown your love for words. Let it be a river that increases the likelihood your words will connect with more readers. Tus palabras are part of you, which makes them sacred. Never stop writing.
Raised in the Pacific Northwest, S. Salazar has always felt at home in the mountains. As an English teacher, she strove to show students that success isn’t defined by background.
S. is published in Harpur Palate, The Acentos Review, Booth Journal, Poet Lore, and elsewhere. Her work explores generational trauma, identity, Latinx heritage, diaspora, and mental health. Her book, Raíces, Relics, and Other Ghosts (Kelsay Books 2023) is her debut collection.
When she isn’t writing, she can be found hiking with loved ones, talking to her parrot, Gizmo, and gushing over every dog she sees.
Follow S. on Instagram, Threads, Substack, Twitter (X), and Facebook @writessalazar