Diana Marie Delgado’s first chapbook Late-Night Talks with Men I Think I Trust won the 2015C enter for Book Art’s chapbook competition. Diana and Porscha discussed poetry, publishing, diversity, and the importance of place. Highlights from that conversation are below.
Porscha Coleman: Thank you so much for agreeing to talk to me tonight. Let’s start with a little background on you and your work.
Diana Maria Delgado: I am a Mexican-American writer who grew up in Southern California. I came to New York for grad school; to do my MFA at Columbia. Late Night Talks with Men I Think I Trust is my first chapbook.
I love the cover and the title of the book. Is there artwork in it?
Yes, there is artwork in the book. The thing that Center for Book Arts does is that they have artists illustrate and design the books. They create limited-edition letter-press printed chapbooks in collaboration with an artist.
How did you collaborate with the artists to come up with the images?
The artists are given the manuscript and come up with the art. I didn’t see it until about a week before I was supposed to give a reading from the book.
That must have been nerve wracking, especially with a first book?
Yes, definitely, I was nervous, but after seeing it I felt that the artist really captured the essence of the book. I love what they did with it.
I was really attracted to the title of the book, it was one of the things that made me really excited to talk to you. So excited, in fact, that I conducted this interview kind of backwards, I typically read the work before I talk to the author but I couldn’t wait to have this discussion! Where did the title for the book come from?
The title of the book came from reflecting on my upbringing in a traditional Mexican-American family, Chicano to be exact, and how that upbringing has influenced my relationships with men as an adult and noticing patterns in those interactions.
Ah, gotcha! Are there strong themes of place in the work?
Yes, absolutely. I go back to childhood and a lot of the poems are set in the kitchen of my family home. Place is a large part of it.
As a poet I absolutely relate to that, I think people generally underestimate the influence of place. For many of us where we are from has such strong influences on our outlooks, preferences, and experiences. I find that I cannot separate those themes in my writing. Is that your experience?
That’s been my experience. People have asked me why the themes of home, again, but home is a so specific to me and it comes up again and again in the writing. It’s the foundation and base for me.
Speaking of foundation and base, I want to ask you about your identity as a poet of color, a woman poet of color to be exact and how that has affected your writing and publishing?
There is a risk being a woman poet, women are taught to conform. As a woman of color there is an inherent weighing of Do I write as a woman writer or a writer of color? But there is still such a lack of diversity in publishing opportunities, and in the ways writing is taught and thought about, so it’s important for me to continue writing despite these conflicts surrounding my identity.
Read more of Diana’s work by picking up a copy of her collection here.