"Chicano writers from El Paso are the most progressive, open-minded, far-reaching, and inclusive writers of them all."

Octavio Romano

Monday, September 20, 2010

Can Only Machos Teach Creative Writing?


By Miguel Juarez, MLS

Recently, after sitting around talking to a few writers after the 2nd Annual El Paso Community College Literary Fiesta: A Celebration of Readers, Writers and Books,” (September 17-18, 2010) it occurred to me that the fiesta lacked Latino and/or Chicano writers. Panels were mostly comprised of Latina/Chicana writers, so maybe the festival should have been renamed something like “the 2nd Annual EPCC Literary Fiesta, With a Focus on Latina/Chicana Writers.” There were a few male writers in the program, such as Dr. Maceo Dailey and Les Williford but no other male Latino writers, unless we count Rich Yanez who made some comments during the “Community Spirit Award” to Cinco Punto Press for 25 years of publishing. There will be some people who will take issue with my statement and tell me that most of the writing forums are predominantly comprised of Latino men so women are deserved their due, which I agree with. But for this festival, I was surprised that no Chicano man read their work. But agreeing with the writers at our table I do believe that Chicanos need to see other Chicanos read and present their work.

But the fact that the festival lacked Latino/Chicano writers was not the comment that floored me but it was the comment one writer made that she felt that the only people that could teach Creative Writing in the classroom to other Latino males, had to be heterosexual. Maybe she was talking about high school and maybe she may have been limiting her comments to Texas classrooms, I was not sure. I differed with her statement and then she challenged me to name straight Latino/Chicano writers besides Dagoberto Gilb. I have to admit that I floundered in offering her names but I also think that in today’s time and age, regardless of the sexuality of the Creative Writing Latino teacher or professor, one can teach creative writing to other Latino men and you don’t have to be heterosexual. I also think that we now live in a day and age when homosexuality is more readily accepted and the idea that only machos can teach Creative Writing is a fallacy. It is also very possible to use the literature of gay writers to teach in classrooms and there are definitely many gay writer's works that are non-erotic. I felt her stereotype of gay men as not being macho was also a bit unfounded and that we definitely have plenty of examples of gay Chicano writers who can teach other Latino men and not have their sexual identity be an issue.

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