“When you’re a writer, you live in dreamtime. It’s kind of like a kite. You begin with your own story, and the higher it goes, it starts to take off and characters start to say things you would never say. The more you tether it to your life, it won’t go very far. It has to begin from something constructed for me that’s real, and then — I just give it more string.”
-Sandra Cisneros, episode 293 of Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso
Today we’re joined by beloved author Sandra Cisneros! We discuss her first poetry collection in 28 years, Woman Without Shame (4:40), why she chooses to write ‘dangerous’ pieces (6:18), and the significance of her poem, “My Mother and Sex” (8:38). Then, we walk through Sandra’s coming of age between Mexico and Chicago (15:16), the sixth-grade teacher that guided her entry into art (19:39), her epiphanies on class in graduate school (23:49), the “Pilsen Bario” that shaped her seminal novel, The House on Mango Street (29:05), and how Studs Terkel informed her lifelong approach to story (30:17).
On the back-half, we discuss the loves and losses that inspired Sandra’s early sensual poems (36:36), how she documented her power through “Neither Señorita nor Señora” (40:04), a painful period captured in “Year of my Death” (50:30), the day her mother visited her writer’s office in San Antonio (57:56), and why she still has more to say (and write) at age 67 (59:59).
- Order Sandra’s first poetry collection in 28 years, Woman Without Shame.
- Find her previous works, including The House on Mango Street, on Sandra’s website.
- See the photograph they discuss from A House of My Own.
- Follow Sandra on Instagram.
- For more conversations, hear our talks with Ocean Vuong, Jhumpa Lahiri, George Saunders, Margaret Atwood, Claudia Rankine, Joyce Carol Oates, and David Sedaris.
- Order your Talk Easy mug in cream and navy or our vinyl record with Fran Lebowitz.