Interview with Author- Maria Aponte

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Let’s welcome Maria Aponte- Author of Transitions of a Nuyorican Cinderella

A poet, performance artist, and playwright, born and raised in New York City’s East Harlem (El Barrio), Maria has worked extensively in Latino Theatre and in video productions that deals with racial discrimination, and women’s rights in theatre and film. Maria’s one-woman show, “Lágrimas de Mis Madres” is a biography about the women in her family. She also wrote and performed “I Will Not Be Silenced,” based on the life of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Mexico’s first feminist poet and playwright. Maria performs her work at various college, universities and artistic venues locally and nationally.

In April 2010, Maria received the Vagina Warrior Award, a special recognition from the Eve Ensler Organization for “someone who has suffered or witnessed violence, grieved it, transformed it, and then does extraordinary work to make sure it doesn’t happen  to anyone else in their community.”

In May 2013, Transitions of a Nuyorican Cinderella won the International Latino Book Award 2nd place for Best Poetry in English.

Maria currently works in Career Services at Fordham University, and will be completing her Masters in Latin American Latino Studies in May of 2014.

What are your genre and your intended audience?

When I first started writing poetry I never thought of having an intended genre or audience.  I came onto the poetry scene during the late 1970’s and to find a place where I could hear my voice through others was important to me then. The only place I felt that I heard my voice, was at the Nuyorican Poets Café.  Listening to poets, like Pedro Petri, Sandra Maria Esteves, and Jose Angel Figueroa read in Spanglish made me feel at home.  It would not be until much later, that I would start writing about the women in my family that my voice would shape into a genre for women. As I grew as an artist, so did my writing. I found that sharing my life experiences through stories was setting common ground for many Latinas and non-Latinas. Today my intended audience is everyone.  If my stories can help all people across life’s spectrum then I feel like I did my job as a writer.

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What are you currently writing?

As of this writing I’m just collecting my thoughts on life for me today and aging.  I feel that sharing those “older coming of age women” stories is very important. A lot happens in your life from your 20’s to your 50’s and beyond.  As an Afro Latina Puerto Rican woman those stories from those years need to be told. So right now, I’m working on new pieces that are focusing on that, with a couple of short stories.

When do you make time to write?

Now that is a good question. It is not easy for me to find that special time to write because I work a full time job in higher education that sometimes requires early mornings and late night and depending on the time of year, weekends.  I am also completing my Masters in Latin American and Latino Studies, so my free time is spent doing a lot of reading/research and papers. So when it comes to my creative side of writing I usually write notes during the school year and write during the summer on my vacations.

What would you have done differently in your writing life? If anything at all?

Since I did not start out as writer, and my background is theatre I can’t say I would have done anything differently. For me, theatre is my first love in the arts and it was from theatre that I came into writing.  But my major influence was when I decided to go back to school and get my undergraduate degree in English literature.  It would be there that my literary world opened up and discovering so many different authors, reading and developing my critical thinking skills opened my mind to the world of writing on a different level then when I took an interest in the 1970’s.  It was going to school that gave me my writers voice.

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Tell us about your marketing strategy.

I find that although I use Face book, Twitter & LinkedIn, word of mouth and old fashion emails still work.  I also have started blogging and launched my website this past January so that helps.

 Does your spiritual or political life influence your writing? If so, how?

The most influential person and teacher of all things Spiritual was my Abuela.  Abuela taught me to respect my spiritual gifts because I was born with them and part of my ancestral heritage. For me spirituality is organic and as normal as breathing.   Regarding politics, it was and still is a major influence in my life which transfers to my writing. Growing up during the Civil Rights Movement in El Barrio, the fight for equal rights, education, and social services for Puerto Ricans were the hotbed topics that were dealt with daily.  Some of the pieces in my book, Transitions of a Nuyorican Cinderella, address those issues through family and life events.

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What would you like to see in your literary community?

In terms of what I would like to see in my literary community is the flexibility of more diversity in what we write about. I feel that since we are living in a more diverse community locally and globally there is much that can be written so that all communities can find commonality in the issues that we all deal with.  I also would like to see more positive writing to break down the stereotypes that are continually perpetuated in main stream media about Latinos. In order for that to happen more Latinos must write and tell their stories from the Latino Voice – not others.