Emmy Pèrez Performs Her Poetry at CNM

February 2, 2017.  By Hilary Broman

Senior Staff Reporter

In the featured photograph, Emmy Pèrez reads a poem called And It’s You from her new book “With the River on Our Face.”  Photo credit Hilary Broman.

Emmy Pèrez, a recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship for poetry, read from her new book, “With the River on Our Face,” at CNM on Friday evening.

Pèrez shared poems that were about topics that were concerning her, she said, one subject in particular is the wall on the Mexican American border.

“Lots of bits of the wall have already been erected since 2008,” she said, “I think it’s important for me to share the poems that talk about how this has been happening for a long time and that we don’t want more to come.”

Pèrez also chose to read poems that had a lot of repetition and were musical sounding because they are the most performative poems from her book, she said.

Pérez describes her writing process to the audience.  Photo credit Hilary Broman.

Pèrez lives in South Texas but she traveled along the Rio Grande River to do research for her book, she said.

She spent time in Colorado where the river begins, and spent time in Taos, New Mexico, she said.

“Poets just look at stuff and try to see beyond the surface and make connections,” Pèrez said.

Pèrez used the things she saw during her research as a starting point to make images in her poems, she said.

“I try to write things in a way that you haven’t quite heard before,” she said.

Pèrez tends to write most when she is feeling a lot of emotion, she said.

The best piece of writing advice was given to her by Joy Castro, an award-winning author, in a writing workshop, Pèrez said.

“Joy quoted Natalie Goldberg who said ‘Go for the jugular,” Pèrez said.

Now Pèrez uses that in the creative writing classes that she teaches, she said.

“When I say, ‘Go for the jugular,’ it is the time when you are supposed to push yourself to say what you are uncomfortable saying or might be avoiding,” she said, “We need to say what we really want to say.”

Pèrez encourages students to attend poetry readings as well as perform their own poetry when given the chance, she said.

By reading poetry out loud it allows the audience to hear the musicality in the poem as well as have a conversation with the poet, she said.

“Poetry is a living art form and I don’t think it’s only meant to be read,” she said.

Pèrez’s new book, “With the River on Our face,” is on sale at the CNM bookstore for $16.95, as well as her previous book, “Solstice,” for $14.00, said Ann Heaton, CNM bookstore area manager.

Students can also visit Pèrez’s website to purchase her books and see upcoming events at www.emmyperez.com.

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