A MELUS Interview: Ana Castillo

By Saeta, Elsa | MELUS, Fall 1997 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

A MELUS Interview: Ana Castillo


Saeta, Elsa, MELUS


Over the last three decades, Chicano literature has experienced its own renaissance. Many of the voices in that literary renacimiento belong to women -- by the 1990s, nearly two-thirds of the contemporary literature was being written by women. Firmly committed to challenging and redefining the gender, race, culture, and class distinctions which have historically defined Chicanos/as in the United States, Chicana writers have become "conscious transmitters of literary expression ... excavators of our common culture, mining legends, folklore, and myths for our own metaphors" (Ana Castillo Massacre of the Dreamers). Writing can dream and invent new possibilities. It is the utopian space where the long-silenced Other begins to speak heretofore unheard things -- where authority is questioned, tradition subverted, privilege challenged. One of the most articulate, powerful voices in contemporary Chicana literature belongs to author Ana Castillo whose work has long questioned, subverted, and challenged the status quo.

An internationally recognized poet, novelist, essayist, and editor, Castillo first published her poetry in the chapbooks, Otro Canto (1977) and The Invitation (1979). Frequently anthologized, her early poetry ensured her reputation as a social protest poet. Her first collection, Women Are Not Roses (1984), was followed by the critically acclaimed My Father Was a Toltec (1988). An expanded edition of that collection -- My Father Was a Toltec: New and Collected Poems was published in 1995. The recipient of numerous fellowships, grants, and awards, Castillo has published three novels -- the classic The Mixquiahuala Letters (1986, 1992), Sapogonia (1990, 1994) and the acclaimed So Far From God (1993). Her collection of critical essays, Massacres of the Dreamers: Essays on Xicanisma (1994), has been described as an unorthodox blend of cultural criticism, social sciences, and creative literature. In this collection, Castillo reissues her invitation to engage in a much needed dialogue on racism, sexism, and classicism, on sexuality and spirituality, on mothering and motherhood.

In this extended excerpt from interviews and conversations between March 1993 and October 1994, Castillo focuses on her prose discussing her development as a writer, the background of her fictional works, and the development as a writer, the background of her fictional works, and the philosophical backdrop of her critical works.

Interviewer: Ana, when did you decide to be a writer?

Castillo: It was not something I ever intended to do. And it's very difficult for me even now to regard it as a profession or career. I started out very much wanting to be a visual artist in an environment in Chicago in which that would not have been considered a real profession for me. I was sent to business school--rather a secretarial girls high school--when I was a teenager. That was what I was supposed to be according to my family and my background--be a file clerk. I suppose I couldn't have been a secretary because I'm a lousy typist and I've always had this aversion to authority, so I knew that I wouldn't get far in that atmosphere.

But I loved to draw--I always loved to draw and I always liked to write. I've written since I was very little. I wrote poetry and wrote stories and drew on whatever I could, painted on whatever I could--anything, any piece of paper that was around. So when I got to college age, I started to send myself to school: first to junior college, and then to a regular college. During the mid 70s, the extent of the racism and the sexism of the university in a city like Chicago discouraged me to such a degree that by the time I was finishing my B.A.--and it took a lot of work to get scholarships and grants to get through the university system--I was really convinced that I had no talent. I couldn't draw and I had no right to be painting. And, I couldn't draw anymore--I literally did not draw or paint anymore.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A MELUS Interview: Ana Castillo
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.