Spilling the Beans in Chicanolandia: Conversations with Writers and Artists

By Frederick Luis Aldama | Go to book overview

Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Benjamin (Ben) Sáenz was born on August 16, 1954, in a farming community just outside Las Cruces, New Mexico. Sáenz grew up in a family of humble means; to make ends meet and feed their seven children, his mother worked as a cook and his father as a cement finisher. Sáenz grew up without books to read at home, but he was always drawn to the power of words—the words of his parents’ stories and later those words he found bound within books in the school library. From an early age, Sáenz instinctively felt that words, either written or spoken, in Spanish or in English, had the power to hold people together and create community. While literature played a central role in his elementary and high school experience, upon graduation Sáenz sought a different avenue to understanding the world: religion. After working for some time as a roofer, an onion picker, and a janitor, Sáenz enrolled in seminary school at the University of Louvain in Belgium. He graduated with a master’s degree in theology in 1980 and then joined the Catholic priesthood, where he was to spend the next seven years of his life. During this period, however, his passion for creative writing became more and more of an ache. So in 1988 he left the priesthood and enrolled in the creative writing program at University of Texas at El Paso. While at UTEP, Sáenz was taken under the wing of the late Chicano novelist and professor from Stanford, Arturo Islas. Greatly encouraged by Islas and with a greater confidence in his craft as a storyteller, Sáenz went on to pursue an M.F.A. at the University of Iowa. He went on to a stint at Stanford as a Stegner Fellow, during which time he put together and published his first

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Spilling the Beans in Chicanolandia: Conversations with Writers and Artists
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introducing a Second Wave of Chicano/a Visual/Verbal Artists 1
  • Francisco X. Alarcón 37
  • Alfred Arteaga 53
  • Ricardo Bracho 69
  • Denise Chávez 79
  • Lucha Corpi 95
  • Dagoberto Gilb 107
  • Jaime Hernandez (of Los Bros Hernandez) 119
  • Juan Felipe Herrera 129
  • Richard Montoya (of Culture Clash) 143
  • Pat Mora 153
  • Cherríe Moraga 167
  • Alejandro Morales 177
  • Michael Nava 187
  • Daniel Olivas 199
  • Cecile Pineda 215
  • Lourdes Portillo 227
  • Luis J. Rodríguez 235
  • Benjamin Alire Sáenz 251
  • Luis Alberto Urrea 261
  • Alfredo Véa Jr 277
  • Alma Luz Villanueva 287
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