LifeBeat Follow-Up: Karla Cordero
We’re highlighting guests from “LifeBeat: Conversations with Purposeful Womxn,” the live Twitch show I hosted beginning in August 2020. Moving along to the next guest from the second episode that was broadcast on 9/17/20, we caught up with Karla Cordero. This poet, professor, and advocate has been pursuing her passions – from writing to spending time with family and a consistent source of support for her communities. The following Q&A was conducted over email, and Karla provided her answers on December 7, 2021.
Lizzie:When we last talked, we started off our conversation talking about comfort food. You said your favorite is your abuela’s pozole with the runner-up being street tacos. Any amendments?
Karla: It’s December, the month I’ve been waiting for all year, the time when pozole starts making its appearance more than ever. So my appetite and anticipation for this dish has yet to change. I can’t wait! In regard to street tacos, I’m living that gluten free life now, so as long as the tortillas are corn based, I’m 100% still in love with tacos! Protein of preference would have to be either arrachera or birria!!! I’d also have to add I’ve been really into albondigas, soup has been my comfort meal!
Next we talked about the concept of time travel and where/when you would go. How would you answer that question now?
I still like the idea of visiting the younger version of myself and telling her she’s going to be a badass and a survivor in all that she does!
At the time of our last conversation in Sept 2020, your book, How to Pull Apart the Earth, had been nominated for the Latino Book Awards. Your pressmate on Not A Cult, Yesika Salgado, and you have since done some events together. Can you talk more about those?
Absolutely! Before the pandemic, (around February 2020) Yesika, a few other pressmates, and I facilitated a reading at Barnes and Noble in Oceanside, CA. After the reading Yesika and I started dreaming of touring across the country and reading our work inside every Barnes and Noble store. Before we were able to make this dream a reality, the pandemic changed those plans. We adjusted our dreams into a different kind of dream, a collaboration in virtual touring. Both Yesika and I produce work that speak about our communities, families, and honor the cities we were born and raised in. Having so much in common we named our virtual tour: The Juntas Tour: Two women speaking themselves home. Juntas has become a poetic collective that hosts virtual readings, panel discussions, writing workshops and keynotes to various universities, community colleges and non-profit organizations who believe in our work. We aim to use our poetry and storytelling as a window, mirror, or open door for those who tune in via zoom so they feel like they stepped into a home where they belong. If there are any colleges or non-profits interested in collaborating please feel free to reach out anytime: email@example.com
Maybe that last question also leads to this one. Back then, you were just getting started back to online teaching and you were doing online writing workshops. Are you back in the real-life classroom now and where are you teaching now? Are you still doing virtual writing/reading events?
I continue to willingly teach online via zoom at MiraCosta College and San Diego City College. However, both of these institutions have on-campus face-to-face classes available. I’ve chosen to stay online due to my compromised immune system and the changing uncertainties of the pandemic. I am teaching a lighter load and investing more of my time toward new projects that require me to simply sit down and write, so I’m excited to have more time for these endeavors! I did start a writing and reading collective called CON GANAS, which is the Spanish phrase for ‘with great desire.’ Con Ganas takes place on Mondays from 3-4 pm (Pacific) and writers from all parts of the country zoom in so we can hold each other accountable to simply write, read, research, free write, journal, for just 60 minutes. We use a fraction of that time for a meet and greet and open mic sesh where people can read the work they’ve created. ALL LEVELS OF EXPERIENCE are welcome to join! Follow me on Instagram at: @karlaflaka13 for details!
How are things going with the land you & your partner, Mario, are going to buy in Bonsall?
Awwww! Thanks for asking! The Bonsall Farm is under development. Mario and his business partner, Marcos Mujica, just finished turning the farming project into a non-profit and are in the middle of seeking investors in making the Bonsall farm become more of a farm. Thus far they created an amazing horse composting system on the farm for when it’s time to grow food. We are still dreaming, visualizing chickens, goats, a fruit stand, and people coming from miles away to enjoy the food we’ll be growing. Stay tuned!
I asked you then what was next for you, and you talked about trying to ‘make small spaces bigger.’ Have you succeeded? In what ways? Or what have been barriers to making that happen?
Yes, I’m still obsessed with space! I’ve gravitated toward poems that want to witness and reach for the observations of insects, plants, and animals and using their spirit as a gateways into telling my own stories. For example I stared at the orange tree in my backyard and observed how this tree has the strength to carry hundreds and hundreds of oranges that dangle from their branches. I immediately thought of my sister and her pregnancy and the work mothers go through to stay balanced in creating new life. [Note from Lizzie: that poem, “Ode to the Orange Trees,” was recently published in Barrelhouse.] Things like that LOL. I did however give myself a break from those explorations, and I started writing a lot of vignettes about my teen years and my relationship with the Spanish language and puberty. It’s been such a wild and awesome exploration!
Finally, we talked about joy. You talked about supporting Latinx businesses and reading Latinx authors to celebrate Latinx Heritage month. You also talked about your niece and about growing and sharing food. How are you sustaining and creating joy now?
Lately I’ve been working on my mental health, as simple as thinking about the times I have a cruddy day, I try to channel all the negative energy into positive. I try to view what good I can gain from these situations. What kinds of joys are lingering around chaos, heartache, shitty days, overcooked chicken and/or the paper cut that just feels horrible!
I’m also picking up hobbies. I love thrifting, the idea of giving something a second chance whether it be clothing, a record, purse, or book. I’m also dabbling with baking and experimenting with different Gluten Free products. I made a GF apple pie the other day and I’m not gonna lie, it was pretty damn good!
And of course, FAMILY and FARMING!!!
Is there anything you want to promote or anything else you want to say about where you are right now with everything?
I always tell the community that I’m a forever resource to your creative endeavors. I invite everybody to follow me on Instagram: @karlaflaka13 and check out some of the events, virtual writing groups, and future workshops that I facilitate or I myself participate in!
~~ I will second her request to follow her on Instagram; her feed is inspirational, fun, and real. Thank you, Karla, for insight into how your 2021 has been. We wish you continued success in all you do!
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