In Southeast Review‘s special Online content, John Sibley Williams interviews José Angel Araguz, a CantoMundo fellow, author of several chapbooks and collections, and the Editor-in-Chief of Salamander.
Araguz talks about how place, specifically Corpus Christi, Texas and Matamoros, Tamaulipas, has defined him, his work, and his politics.
Not only is my family’s story scattered across these two places, but some of the essential issues of our times play out on this border: immigration from a variety of countries (not just Mexico), narcotraffico, and the ensuing violence against women, children, and the poor. There is no memory that isn’t tinged with darkness, with threat and danger.
Since Araguz’s work does feature a lot of his own culture, he is asked how he approaches work to make it universal to readers of all cultures and his response is great: “I tread carefully around the word “universal.” There’s so much instability to language that to count on a poem alone, the mere words on the page, to be universal, is to invite failure.”
Learn more about José Angel Araguz, how he crafts his poetry, and how his experiences helped form his work.