Art Is: Roy Guzman

Roy G. Guzmn was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and grew up in Miami, Florida. They are currently pursuing a PhD in Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota, where they also received an MFA in creative writing. Roy is the co-editor of Pulse/Pulso: In Remembrance of Orlando.

AIRED: December 10, 2020 | 0:04:52

(mellow music)

- I was born in Honduras,

and in Latin America,

poetry has a lot of value.

That's something that I think growing up,

I was raised reading books.

I also went to art school when I was a kid.

But something I found about writing,

is that I think it connects

all these different media

into a message I can share with others.

My name is Roy Guzman.

I am a poet and a graduate student at the U.

I study in a department

of poetry studies and comparative literature.

I attended art school.

I also, in terms of literature,

I did a little bit of that in undergrad.

At University of Chicago, I studied comparative literature.

I also did translation work.

I translated a book of poems by Rubén Darío,

he's a famous Nicaraguan poet.

And so after that,

I just sort of dabbled more into poetry.

So it was more after undergrad

that I got more into sort of like,

the performance of poetry,

the writing of poetry,

and work-shopping poetry too.

Every year, we raised the dead.

We thank them for the floods.

Thank them for how the missing bodies floated.

When we plan to find them after a few beers,

our fathers returned from their lovers beds,

bolted down our doors.

From an infantile zoo,

We'd burst out running.

How many lives have I left and snared?

Lives still learning to stretch out their shadows,

strategies to grow out.

New mouths consume

only the heart of the deer,

carry the rest home.

(mellow music)

I find that poetry is the kind of medium

that connects a lot of different histories.

People talk so much about math being like,

this universal language.

And for me, I find that poetry

has that universal feel to it.

When I think about Muslim poetry,

when I think about Asian poetry,

South African poetry, Caribbean poetry,

I feel like there's all these intersections I find.

Whether it be about marginalizations,

different themes around race,

around culture, class, gender,

and musicality of the poetry

because of just the intonation.

And so I feel like poetry is this sort of like, house,

where everybody can come in and have, you know,

very much free access to.

I feel poetry has sort of molded an identity for myself

as someone who cares about people,

as someone who cares about community as well, poetry.

People talk so much about like, the notion of empathy,

and I do find that poetry is really good

at creating bridges of solidarity

among communities trying to understand

someone else's experience that might be unlike yours.

Poetry, I feel like,

gives me that platform and has shaped that kind of identity.

(acoustic music)

I hope people get a sense of what it's like

to grow up as an immigrant in the United States.

I hope they get a sense of what Honduras

and what central America is like.

At the same time, what it's like being sort of,

you know, I'm an only child,

and what that was like in this country.

Growing up marginalized, growing up as a queer person,

and then also being like, a child laborer,

I would go and clean houses with my mom.

So all these intersections

I hope people can connect to the idea of

"How do people survive despite challenges?"

At the same time,

how do people create like, survival strategies

to sort of navigate the system?

So I want people to kind of change

the way they listen to language

and change the way they listen to poetry by immigrants,

and I want the book to create

that kind of opportunity for them

to be more in touch with

not just different types of histories,

but then at the same time,

different kinds of forms,

because that's something that I do a lot in my book.


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