Podcast

Caressing the Flame: 5 Questions for ire’ne lara silva

Learn to tell yourself the truth. Learn to tell the page the truth.” ire’ne lara silva

ire’ne lara silva, the 2023 Texas State Poet Laureate, is the author of four poetry collections, furia, Blood Sugar CantoCUICACALLI/House of Song, and FirstPoems, two chapbooks, Enduring Azucares and Hibiscus Tacos, and a short story collection, flesh to bone, which won the Premio Aztlán. ire’ne is the recipient of a 2021 Tasajillo Writers Grant, a 2017 NALAC Fund for the Arts Grant, the final Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Award, and was the Fiction Finalist for AROHO’s 2013 Gift of Freedom Award. Most recently, ire’ne was awarded the 2021 Texas Institute of Letters Shrake Award for Best Short Nonfiction. ire’ne is currently a Writer at Large for Texas Highways Magazine and is working on a second collection of short stories titled, the light of your body. A new poetry collection, the eaters of flowers, is forthcoming from Saddle Road Press in January 2024.

On Saturday, December 9th, ire’ne lara silva is teaching a class for the WLT called “Caressing the Flame: Writing the Difficult.” In this class, you’ll learn to write poetry or prose that is alive, present, authentic, and risky.

Here’s what ire‘ne had to share with us:

Scribe: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you write? How did you come to writing?

ire’ne lara silva: Apparently, I write everything. I’m mostly known as a poet, but I’ve published short stories, essays, magazine articles, and a comic book. Currently, I’m working on a novel and the libretto for an opera. 

I’m less than a year from retiring from my full time administrative job with Travis County. After 26 years of bread and butter jobs, I’m happy to be moving into speaking/writing full time. 

I’ve been writing most of my life. I don’t even remember learning to read. I just remember that I was introduced to the alphabet in kindergarten and the next thing I knew I was devouring every book in every library I came across.

Scribe: In your own work, how do you approach overcoming the challenges that come with writing, be it writer’s block or craft or business-related challenges?

ils: As writers, I don’t think we talk about acceptance enough. We inflate ‘writer’s block’ into the monolithic thing. As humans, as writers, as artists, any expectation of constant production is mostly harmful. We are not here to constantly produce. We are here to live. And our bodies, minds, hearts, spirits require rest. We also require joy. And if we drain our art of all joy and desire, then we can’t expect ourselves to want to actually do it.  

Scribe: Has there been a moment of epiphany in terms of your work, when you thought, “This is it! Now I know what I’m doing?” How long id that feeling last?

ils: I had a realization about 5 or 6 years ago—that for most of my life 75% of the energy I put into writing went to fighting myself to get to the page. I don’t know if it was one specific life event or the accumulation of many events that took me to the place where I stopped having to fight myself. The feeling has endured. I don’t fight myself anymore. So while I might have less time/energy now, all the energy I put into writing goes into writing now.

Scribe: What piece of advice do you find yourself giving to writers again and again?

ils: Learn to tell yourself the truth. Learn to tell the page the truth. And instead of revising for polish or style, revise for the most complete truth.

Scribe: What are two things that people will take away from this class?

ils:

  1. Acknowledgment of the emotional and psychological toil that writing sometimes entails.
  2. A few strategies for approaching and preparing for difficult writing.

Thanks, ire’ne!

Click here to learn more about ire’ne lara silva’s upcoming class.

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