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Author of the Month: Griselda Suárez

Published: October 15, 2009

Concrete River Boulevard

Griselda Suárez, Lecturer, Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies

Published in May by Finishing Line Press, Concrete River Boulevard is a poetry chapbook by Griselda Suárez as part of the 10th anniversary series that features many emerging voices. Her first collected book of poetry represents 10 years of work and two years of careful selection. Its title refers to the Los Angeles River and its presence in her early life spent growing up in East Los Angeles. “The river is an obsession of mine,” said Suárez, who joined the Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies Department in 2006. “I grew up by the concrete river and a cruising boulevard. This collection is my expression of what it’s like to grow up in an oppressed urban space and to uncover the power and mystery within it. The title refers to a space where people and spaces are sometimes stuck. No room to move in this immense metropolis.” The collection opens with a poem about the river and concludes with a reflection of the spring 2008 May Day demonstration in MacArthur Park. She finds two lines in her poem “MayDay, MacArthur Park” particularly indicative of her point of view: Riot gear means only one thing in Los Angeles, Protect Yourself. “In searching for poems in my hometown I discovered a journey of identity,” she said. “My goal was also to redefine nature in the urban landscape. Freeways, streets and bridges in relation to desert sky, masked mountain.” As a Lambda fellow, Suárez was co-producer this summer for “Testimonies, Chisme and Spilling the Tea,” an evening of poetry for the 2009 National Queer Arts Festival in San Francisco. The event brought together Lambda fellows and faculty like Dorothy Allison, Rigoberto Gonzalez and Eloise Klein Healy. Sharing the stage with Healy, one of her mentors, was a great experience. “Eloise encouraged me to give an artful order to my world and I would like to encourage my students to do the same.” Suárez enjoys teaching writing at CSULB because it gives her the opportunity to help students find their voice and point of view. “I can critique students’ writing and frame the discussions within Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies. This is why I have always wanted to teach here.” Her connection to CSULB began 10 years ago while she worked as a higher education advocate and counselor for 10 years in TRIO programs and always encouraged her students to apply to CSULB. She is dedicated to sharing her craft with students and provides a space for their expression through “Café Cultura” which she co-coordinates with Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies’ Anna Sandoval each semester. She hopes to create an event that she would have wanted to see as a young writer in East Los Angeles. Her poetry and prose has appeared in Other Side Magazine, Outloud Journal, Aunt Lute Press, Seal Press, NCOC Press, Acentos Literary Review, and Sinister Wisdom Journal. She earned her bachelor’s in 1999 from Pitzer College in Claremont and went on to earn her MFA from San Francisco’s New College of California in 2004. Suárez hopes her readers find a poetic representation of her struggle and empowerment in Concrete River Boulevard.

Concrete River

“My goal was also to redefine nature in the urban landscape. Freeways, streets and bridges in relation to desert sky, masked mountain.” As a Lambda fellow, Suárez was co-producer this summer for “Testimonies, Chisme and Spilling the Tea,” an evening of poetry for the 2009 National Queer Arts Festival in San Francisco. The event brought together Lambda fellows and faculty like Dorothy Allison, Rigoberto Gonzalez and Eloise Klein Healy. Sharing the stage with Healy, one of her mentors, was a great experience. “Eloise encouraged me to give an artful order to my world and I would like to encourage my students to do the same.” Suarez enjoys teaching writing at CSULB because it gives her the opportunity to help students find their voice and point of view. “I can critique students’ writing and frame the discussions within Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies. This is why I have always wanted to teach here.” Her connection to CSULB began 10 years ago while she worked as a higher education advocate and counselor for ten years in TRIO programs and always encouraged her students to apply to CSULB. She is dedicated to sharing her craft with students and provides a space for their expression through “Café Cultura” which she co-coordinates with Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies’ Anna Sandoval each semester. She hopes to create an event that she would have wanted to see as a young writer in East Los Angeles. Her poetry and prose has appeared in Other Side Magazine, Outloud Journal, Aunt Lute Press, Seal Press, NCOC Press, Acentos Literary Review, and Sinister Wisdom Journal. She earned her bachelor’s in 1999 from Pitzer College in Claremont and went on to earn her MFA from San Francisco’s New College of California in 2004. Suárez hopes her readers find a poetic representation of her struggle and empowerment in Concrete River Boulevard.