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‘My sense of humor is twisted, and I’m very outspoken, so my performances can easily offend the weak-hearted’: An Interview with Juliana Aragón Fatula

By Harriet Staff

Adela Najarro interviewed Juliana Aragón Fatula over at the Letras Latinas blog.

Here Fatula talks about performance as it relates to composition:

Can you elaborate how performance influences what gets written and the process of composing a poem–do you perform all of your poems, some, none?


I perform all of my poems, but I select which poems I’ll do at my readings based on my audience. For example, when I’m standing in front of a classroom of children, I change my cuss words to things like monkey-shines, or mother biscuits, because I never curse in front of kids. Adults are fair game, however, and I pretty much use every foul-word I know including some Shakespearean insults I picked up in my research. Sometimes I ask my audience if they want a sad, funny, or nasty poem and they almost always say nasty. So if they ask for “The Colorado Sisters” they know they are going to hear the story about my mother and aunt and their friend, Rosalinda.

A friend once called my work irreverent. My sense of humor is twisted, and I’m very outspoken, so my performances can easily offend the weak-hearted. I write the way I speak. I grew up in a home with both parents cursing in English and Spanish, and it is part of my persona when I’m on stage to use colorful language.

When I’m composing a poem, I always consider my reader and how I can make them feel the emotions. Since some of my poems were originally written for the stage, I’ve had the chance to hear the feedback from the audiences. I know what works, what makes women laugh, what makes men cry, and I milk it. I live for the applause, and the laughter, that is like money to me. But when I can move grown men to tears with a poem like, “The Hat,” I feel successful as a writer. Writing has been healing for me, and I find when I perform my words on stage, they sometimes heal others as well.

If I’d never been a performer, my writing might be even more outrageous, more irreverent; I wouldn’t think or worry about speaking the words or standing on a stage in front of an audience and spilling my guts. My writing style has definitely been influenced by my background in theatre. As for composing a poem, my mind is always clicked into the idea that I am writing my own herstory and creating art that will survive long after I’m gone, that fact influences my desire to write, to tell my truth, to leave a piece of me behind for the next generation of Chican@ poets.

Full interview here.

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Posted in Poetry News on Wednesday, November 7th, 2012 by Harriet Staff.