NONFICTION

Three Questions for Luis J. Rodriguez

CARICATURE BY STEVE CARROLL
The former poet laureate of Los Angeles comes complete, just as he is. 

How does a fixation on borders undermine the idea of identity and culture?
Nations and borders are relatively new concoctions in the history of humanity. They emerged as capitalism stretched out from Europe. I’m interested in the larger idea that all human beings belong to the earth.

Did your DNA test results change how you see your ancestry?
It’s interesting to find out our ancestry. But we are not this part “race” or that part “race.” Regardless of how we got here, we come complete and whole as we are. The DNA test just confirmed what I already knew—I have the whole world in me.… But, also, the biggest part of the “pie” is Native.

How is poetry necessary?
A poet can be the modern-day court jester—who calls things as they are. Poetry is prayer in motion. It’s spiritual but not limited to religion. I call it soul talk in that it has to draw from depth of soul.

Read an excerpt from Our Land to Our Land: Essays, Journeys, and Imaginings from a Native Xicanx Writer.

Heather Scott Partington is a writer, teacher, and book critic based in Elk Grove, California. She interviews authors for our Alta Asks and Alta Asks Live online series. 

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