Writing Program Lecturer Wins Literary Prize for Poetry Collection | UCSB

Shirley Beal

Poet Vickie Vértiz takes the identities she feels closest to — queer, Brown and immigrant-working course — and turns every single a person around a stone, smoothing its edges with affirmations.   

“At the heart of my crafting, I benefit the functioning course, the resilient, the immigrants — the encounter of Black, Indigenous and individuals of colour in Southern California, and specifically, Los Angeles,” mentioned Vértiz, who also identifies as Mexican American, and is a lecturer in the writing plan at UC Santa Barbara.       

Vértiz’s 2nd ebook of poems “Auto/Body” — motivated by her experiences residing in South East Los Angeles — has received the Ernest Sandeen Prize in Poetry ahead of its February publication by University of Notre Dame Press.

Section of a expanding neighborhood of Black, Indigenous and people of colour poets who are also students in Black and American scientific tests, Vértiz’s poetry is a kind of cultural excavation, drawing from particular and collective memories all around communities of color.

“My get the job done is in discussion with other writers of coloration who are breaking types in poetry to have an understanding of ourselves and discover other techniques to stay and survive in this environment,” she mentioned, noting that poets Robin Coste Lewis and Fred Moten press and inspire her creating and examining.

The book’s title, “Auto/Human body,” is a engage in on words and phrases, alluding to the automobile society that intersected with Vértiz’s daily life as a queer woman of color. Vértiz explores sexual need, admiration and escape by way of cars and the physique.

She also touches further wounds, this kind of as structural sexual violence, diving into her very own rage and “expelling harm” via her poetry.

Taking part in with expectations of poetic forms, Vértiz crafts some of her poems to get the literal form of a symbol, these types of as a broken pyramid on prime of a world in the poem “Nature Armed Drugs.” The poem describes a world Earth that is reclaiming its methods.

In the poem “We Experienced to Turn into Doves: An American Sonnet,” following the get the job done of Iranian artist Shirin Neshat, she describes gender fluidity with imagery of character and female bodies:

“Let us greet the sun wherever genders are miles of rattlesnakes cultivating venom / … / Slip into insider secrets, are living oaks, femme bodies in which we improve / into 1000’s and 1000’s of branches.”

“When I train producing I educate it as a sort of comprehending the self which can liberate us,” she stated. “It is a sort of expression, of relief, joy and self-validation in a world that proceeds to want to erase us, that is, ladies and workers.

“And which is most of us. It is not just persons of shade. Capitalism and patriarchy hurt everybody, and poems are techniques out. They are very little maps that I’m drawing for persons. It is like, in this article is some thing I drew for myself, and that I’m offering.”

Vehicles are a vessel for several of the offerings in Vértiz’s “Auto/Human body.” Her uncle and brother are automobile-system employees in Los Angeles and Puebla, Mexico, respectively, and her father tuned-up quite a few used cars when she was rising up.

“Many people in my group do the job on automobiles,” she mentioned. “We have to have automobiles. They are a resource of revenue, but they are also a supply of satisfaction.”

When she was a kid, Vértiz’s father appreciated to choose images of himself and the relatives in front of the cars. As an adult, she seemed at the images and started off considering, “What are the automobiles seeking to say?” The encounter influenced aspects of “Auto/Overall body.”   

“My father was extremely very pleased of the automobiles,” Vértiz said. “Here is this particular person who has very little formal training but has engineering abilities. He is essentially a mechanical engineer even though nobody phone calls a mechanic that. I’m celebrating his understanding and the autos.

“The ebook follows a theme of repair service. By means of this piece of crafting, how am I repairing a marriage or a violation?”

One of the rhetorical approaches that Vértiz employs is ekphrasis, or crafting about artwork. For Vértiz, it is queer Black and Brown artwork that has impressed poetry. In her poems, she has engaged with general performance artists Celia Herrera Rodriguez, Rafael Esparza and Sebastian Hernandez, among others.

“I truly feel a kinship with their operate and their expression, their bravery, as they put their literal bodies on display,” she stated.

Vértiz’s admiration for (and crushes on) drag queens, like Vanessa Vanjie Mateo from Puerto Rico via Florida, also finds its way to poems that choose area at queer bars and drag demonstrates.

“For me, queerness and the celebration of it has constantly been in a club,” she additional. “That’s where I normally felt most secure as a queer particular person.”

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