Chicana author reads unpublished poem at the Visiting Writers Series

Caley Berg

As part of the Marcia Kinsey Visiting Writers Series, author Ana Castillo spoke to a group of professors and students in Jones Auditorium.

Castillo is a Chicana writer known for award-winning works including feminist novel Massacre of the Dreamers, story of flamenco passion Peel My Love Like an Onion, magical realism novel So Far From God and her latest book about a family’s difficult journey, The Guardians.

Castillo spent an hour on Nov. 19 reading from her novel “The Guardians” and various other works. Themes within her work include racism, feminism, classism, sexuality and intricate familial relationships, which have all shaped her Chicana identity.

Two of her books were controversial enough to land on Arizona’s list of banned books. Often, a book can be banned if it reveals a truth that makes many people uncomfortable.

St. Edward’s University students and faculty were privileged to hear an unpublished poem she wrote, inspired by recent world events. She said she never reads unpublished work, but she wanted to share the highly expressive poem with her audience, because the tragedies reminded her life is short.

The host of the event announced that Castillo would take questions from listeners at the end of her talk. One professor asked why she used code switching between English and Spanish throughout most of her work.

Castillo answered, “I do not intentionally ‘code switch’ between languages. Code switching is a term made up by literary critics to explain the Chicana writing style. I write the way that I think and speak, and the way that my family speaks.”

Using both Spanish and English to accurately convey her multi-cultural voice and produce a lyrical effect is one of many unique style choices Castillo implements in her work.

Having started her writing career as a poet, Castillo often uses colorful metaphors for both the extraordinary and the mundane, and her rhythmical voice carries through to her longer pieces.

Castillo’s novels are sold at the local BookWoman on North Lamar, and some may be available upon request in the St. Edward’s library.