The Writer’s Desk features the desks and writing practices of Gemini Ink faculty, visiting authors, teaching artists, volunteers, students, interns, staff, partners and more. Receive new posts in your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter at bit.ly/geminiinknewsletter.
Join jo Eddie Vega on Mondays, July 10, 17, 24 & 31, 2023, 6:30-8:30pm CST, in-person at Gemini Ink, for his workshop: The Poetry of Food. In this 4-session workshop, we will dig up memories we associate with food, and use these recollections to explore writing about the delectable in different poetic forms, including haiku, odes, sonnets, lists, etc. Each session will include mentor texts and generative work. This course is open to adult writers of all skill levels.
- Hey Eddie, how’s it going? Thanks for joining us here at the Writer’s Desk. We’re super excited to dive right into the conversation. Let’s start by taking a trip down memory lane. Can you describe your first writing desk and tell us, how is it different (or not) from your current writing desk?
My first writing desk was my parents’ dining room table. I don’t eat all the same type of food at this desk as I did on my first one.
- Do you have any habits or routines that you follow before writing?
I almost always have a drink of some sort. During the Pandemic (and Quarantine) I picked up the habit of drinking a Mexican Coke every time I had to sit and write or edit – I’m not sure how healthy that is so I’ve switched to better alternatives. More or less.
Ok, I really feel that cane sugar and caffeine keep my writing fresh, and I’m tired of getting judged by my own body about it!
- What is the one piece of writing advice that you value most?
Carmen Tafolla told me that every line in a poem has to be impactful. I remember that whenever I edit. Sometimes I write a short, impactful line and I end up moving other lines to join it so it can share the impact with the more boring ones, but then the lines get longer and I end up having to split them again. Then I pray Carmen doesn’t read those when they come out.
- What’s a book or movie that you can watch over and over again and not get tired of?
There are several movies in this category, but the one I’ve probably watched most often is Forrest Gump. Even though I can quote it the whole way through and know what’s coming, I still laugh in all the same places, cry in all the same places, and sigh in all the same places.
- Is there anything you’ve been listening to lately—an exciting podcast, a song list, or an album?
Lately, I’ve been listening to lots of 90s alternative rock en español, basically anything that sounds like Shakira’s first two albums.
- What theme or symbol often emerges in your work? Why are you drawn to this theme/symbol?
My 7th Grade English teacher, Ms. Hinojosa, told us that writers write best about what they know. My biggest theme is the Mexican-American experience.
Whether I’m writing about tacos, going to the grocery store, sitting at a bus stop, teaching, or walking in the woods in rural Maine, my writing is about a Mexican-American from McAllen doing it. It’s how I maintain authenticity in my writing.
- Do you like things to be carefully planned out, or do you prefer to go with the flow? Does this also apply to your writing?
I often feel like I’m averse to planning. I don’t appreciate the constraints of schedules or the looks from people I get when I’m late to places. The plan in my writing is to know what I’m writing about, start writing, and see where it goes.
- Does good writing result from best practices, magic, or a bit of both?
I’d say it’s about 35% best practices and 65% magic, except on days when it’s 5% best practices and 95% magic. But then there are times when it’s 28% best practices and 51% magic and 21% quien-sabe-que, which is probably just magic, pero in Spanish and with an accordion.
- What is your next project?
Narrowing down all of the things I want to do to just one project for the next six months.
- If people want to learn more about your work, where should they go?
The Dakota East Side Ice House on first and third Sundays at 5:00 pm.
Eddie Vega is a poet, spoken word artist, storyteller, and educator. His poetry has been displayed on VIA Buses and downtown San Antonio buildings. His first full-length collection of poetry, Chicharra Chorus (FlowerSong Press) was published in 2019 and he is the 2021 recipient of the Literary Arts Grant from the Luminaria Artist Foundation. In 2022, Vega won the Haiku Death Match at both the Southern Fried Poetry Slam and the NSFPS BlackBerry Peach Slam. His latest project is a collection of poems written by South Texas poets entitled, Asina is How We Talk. Vega writes about food, Tejano culture, social justice, and the intersections thereof. Known as the Taco-Poet of Texas, he can be found nightly at an open-mic, slam, or taqueria anywhere throughout South Texas.