What I Learned From The Wolf Girl

It’s a quiet moment in the forest. Prince Ashitaka, the protagonist, lays unconscious, half-submerged in water. Hooves approach him and flowers spring around the steps. What appears to be a deer wakes him up. But it’s not a deer. Its face is more human than animal. This is the introduction of the forest god.

There are a million reasons I love Princess Mononoke: from the animation style, music, pacing, the untold love story that lies beneath the plot. But what I think has inspired me the most in my writing is the magical atmosphere flows so effortlessly from one scene to the next.  I like writing about things that aren’t real but are concrete in my imagination. Princess Mononoke has showed me how to build a world that has its own logic, that is fantastical yet is so grounded. A world with forest spirits and cursed boars doesn’t sound so unlikely.

Princess Mononoke uses the world around it to build up to a universal conflict: man vs. nature. What happens when industrial progress means the death of living things around it? It’s inspired my own writing. I want to write about universal themes and feelings without the backdrop of the “real” world. You don’t have to understand the world to feel the message it’s trying to portray.

Imagery is the reason that Princess Mononoke is so memorable. I don’t mean the animation itself, although Miyazaki is able to animate such breathtaking and beautiful details. I mean what each line comes to represent. The boar bleeding black tar. The girl who rides wolves in the dark of night. The prince who rides an elk and is quick with his arrows. The forest deity with the bizarre face yet serene nature. These are images that have stayed with me since the first time I saw the movie at fourteen. To create imagery that lingers in a reader’s head is a goal of mine. I want people to read my work and have the world that I build stay in their mind.

Overall, I aspire to create worlds and stories like Hayao Miyazaki. The imagination that are in these movies is inspiring. But Princess Mononoke is my favorite film and is the one that I draw the most inspiration from because it is able to cover these fantastical themes and doesn’t shy away from the violence that occurs when two different worlds clash. These images burned into me and come out through my words.

Llorona

This is what I’ll tell my children

 

I will say that it is okay to cry

about death, about love

about the simple way a smile

can change you

 

I will not shame them

erase their tears

use the old way of stoicism

they will not  

hide

 

I will whisper the tales of

a crying woman

how she cries for eternity

they will not

but they could cry forever

if they wish to  

 

I will tell my weeping children

Their tears are so powerful

We’ve made monsters out of them

 

-Originally published in Berry Mag 

New Podcast

If y’all have been following me on Twitter or Instagram, you should already know I do the most. On top of my regular job, I write short stories, poetry, articles, have a small zine press and attend events that deal with all that constantly. But I’d been lacking something ever since another podcast I was a part of went on a six month hiatus. So I wanted to create a solo podcast.

Enter Secret Scholar, a podcast focused on giving marginalized voices a dope ass platform to highlight their studies, hustles, hopes, worries, loves– whatever they want. The reason it’s named Secret Scholar (and maybe I’ll get more into it in a future episode) is because of the way I talk and present myself. Many people write me off immediately and underestimate my intelligence. But I’m going to turn it around and use the fact that people assume my level of understanding as a weapon. I want to use this podcast to highlight these voices that need to be heard and hopefully get better at public speaking along the way. You can listen on the player or on Google Podcasts, Audioboom, Stitcher, Tune In, Spotify and more.

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Things NOT To Do When Attending Zine Fests

I love zines. I love zine fests even more, as they are opportunity to meet the creators behind wonderful pieces of work. This past weekend, I was a vendor on behalf of Conchas Y Contras  with my friend and co-host Janeane after being invited to apply. It was our first time ever doing an event that involved face-to-face interaction. Overall it was a great event and it was amazing interacting with other artists, creators and zine-makers. However, since being on the other side of the table, I noticed some reoccurring  behaviors that I would like to shine some light on.  It’s not a good feeling to be ignored and treated like a commodity rather than people behind the table. So if you are attending a zine fest (this can also apply to any events that have vendors) keep in mind that these following behaviors can be perpetuated as rude or downright insulting.

1.Ignore the vendors. 

This is probably the most common behavior that I saw not just at my table but several others. People will come up to a table, not even look at the vendors, touch their products and leave without saying a word. There’s nothing wrong with saying hi to the people that are vending, in fact that’s how I’ve met so many cool artists. I know that for some people talking to others is incredibly hard to do, but if you are capable of it, a simple “hello” makes a person feel seen.

2. Read through zines and not buy anything.

This is the one that really, really,  bothered me.  This isn’t the magazine aisle at the grocery store. Zines can be really expensive to make on top of all the fees for supplies and just to secure your spot in the first place. So for someone to suck up all the worth of buying a zine by reading the entire thing, simply just to walk away and not even ask about the price or even worse do what I mentioned in point #1. What a lot of people fail to realize is that, money is really hard for artists to come by on their work alone. Many of us don’t even break even. So to have a potential customer turn into a passerby because they wanted to read the entire zine is so frustrating. Flipping through a few pages are fine, reading the whole zine is not.

3. Pick up a business card and then put it down.

This didn’t really happen to us, but one of the vendors that was next to us mentioned this so I wanted to include it in my next point. As she pointed out, business cards are free and there to spread the word. So simply to touch one and then leave it can be seen as insulting. A caveat to this would to just take a picture of the business card and then put it back down.

4. Treat us like human beings. 

Because we are! All my points come around to this one point. We are artists and for many of us, we are selling our art babies to continue making more and get financially compensated for that. It’s a weird metaphor, but you get it.  A lot of people in the world do not value our work and feel we should give it out for free. As if the physical and emotional labor we put into our work is not real work. So please, if you have the means to do so, support an artist. Our work often goes underappreciated and unrecognized, so supporting us in any way means the world.

So my main point is treat artists like people instead of products. Love them and support them, whether it be financially, emotionally. Support them through social media. Write reviews. And I just want to shout out fellow artists. Most of our customers were people selling zines themselves. I love you all and hope we can all succeed together as a community.

Besides selling at zine fests, I also have a shop. I will link it here. Thank you for reading this far.

Brown Girl This Is Your World

Traveling is hard. Traveling solo is hard. TraveBrown Girl Travelsling solo as a person of color is hard. Traveling solo as a woman of color seems almost impossible.

Yet, somehow it’s done. Despite being told no by overprotective parents, by a community that has largely never even left the state, let alone the country. Being told no by a world that is used to us staying at home.

Not only do we survive in a world that does not always love us, we thrive. If you’ve been following my blog for a while you know that I am part of Brown Girl Travels.  This is part memoir, part travel guide, part diary for many women of color solo travelers. It a community that has filled a void that I didn’t even know existed until I saw the call for submissions.

I was invited to read some of  my work at the zine release party which was at the beginning of this month. I hadn’t preformed any of my work since Oakland, so I was slightly nervous. This is why having a community that loves and supports you is so necessary as an artist. You feel like you can take on the world. I read a couple pieces on my experiences as a traveler, mainly back to my parent’s home country of Guatemala. There’s just something about revealing a piece of work to someone and having them enjoy it that can’t be described. It’s an amazing feeling.

Community is so essential as an artist.  Forming a community with other artists simultaneously gives you a platform of support and feedback. I feel like I got that from Brown Girl Travels. Ashley, you’ve created a great platform and I can’t wait to see what you do next with it.

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June Recap

The first month of the summer is over and here in Southern California, things are starting to heat up!

Unfortunately,  my job is the exact opposite of the school year, so I haven’t been writing as much but don’t worry I have a few events coming up as well as some upcoming pieces that will be published so be on the look out for that!

On Conchas Y Contras:

We talk about the child camps and how the immigrant community is under attack. 

We try to stay calm and chill and share our tips on how to do it. 

May Recap

Hello everyone! Another month has passed and I can’t believe it’s almost summer. Last month, I was pretty burnt out and I’m still recovering from it but I’ve slowly felt rejuvenated by just taking time to relax and just consume media instead of constantly produce it. That didn’t stop me from publishing some pieces and working on some of my other projects.

Check out my latest piece from Vain VVitch and their body horror zine.

On The Strange Is Beautiful:

“Finding Your Worth” A Poem

Conchas Y Contras:

The history of Latin America and U.S intervention through politics and culture. 

Junot Diaz and the complicity that allowed sexual harassment and assault. 

Also big news on a current project. I put out a Call For Submissions for a zine I was creating called “Very Important Dogs”, I am pleased to say that I have finished it for the most part and I am hoping to release it before the end of the June. If you are interested in placing an order, feel free to shoot me an email at saguaritopress@gmail.com. If not, I will be posting instructions on how to order through Paypal and Venmo as well as opening a shop on the site (fingers crossed). Thank you for joining me for another month of recaps.

Make Your Own Shit:A Day at LA Zine Fest 2018

The idea of zines are new to me and are pretty goddamn revolutionary. Have ideas that won’t get published? Do it your self.  Want to write with your friends? Form a collective and get that writing out there. As someone that wants to get traditionally published one day, the idea of making zines is uncertain territory for me. The idea that I would not be taken seriously as a writer because my work appears in zines is terrifying.

I knew a couple of people going to LA Zine Fest and since Pasadena isn’t so far from my house, I decided to check it out. I had gone to LA Pages the week before which was my first experience with zine vendors. I fell in love with so many zines and the people that created them. The event was small and took up a community space next to a church in East LA. I thought LA Zine Fest would have a similar vibe. Oh was I wrong.

This year the event took place at the Pasadena Conference Center, which gives the idea that it’ll just be a large room. But the event was two floors, essentially the entire building. There were so many vendors peddling their zines, stickers, shirts, art. It was super overwhelming at the beginning but once I started slowly making my way around the booths, I calmed down.

As a woman of color, I know how hard it is to get your voice heard and get your message out there so I wanted to support women of color vendors for the most part. I met some amazing people and I want to highlight some.

yeiry guevara.JPG

  1. Yeiry Guevara is a “writer, creative, problem solver”. Basically she is a modern day Renaissance woman from creating her own zines to designing graphics to sewing. I visited her booth and she was super warm and welcoming. Plus, shout out to a fellow Central American creator putting her work out there and thriving.

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2. Brown Girl Travels has a very special place in my heart because it was the first zine that I submitted to and they published a piece I wrote about traveling to Tikal located in my parents’ home country, Guatemala. I finally got to meet Ashley, who put together the zine, in person and we connected instantly. I love when internet peeps turn out to be just as amazing in real life.

the strange is beautiful

3. Shannen Roberts runs the site The Strange Is Beautiful which focuses on mental health awareness and self-care. She is also a musician that goes by Cusi Coyllur. Her booth was awesome because it was super interactive, from music demos on an iPod to Shannen taking pictures of new readers. I am a writer for the Strange Is Beautiful so it makes me happy when a new crop of followers appears.

 

la zine fest.JPG

Overall I left the zine fest broke and happy. You can check out this Instagram post to see all the vendors I visited that day.   I also left feeling inspired. I’ve been working on my own projects and the zine format seems perfect for them. So stay tuned and maybe one day I’ll have my own booth at LA Zine Fest.

April Recap

April was about stepping back and really wondering where I want to take my work next. What I want to focus on in terms of creating. There are a couple of publications that I’ll be featured in coming out next month so stay tuned for that.

It’s been a long time coming but Brown Girl Travels is finally out! The zine is an amazing 100+ pages of stories, pictures, poems, guides- pretty much everything you could want if you’re a WOC solo traveler. Check it out on Instagram.

Brown Girl Travels

On Conchas Y Contras:

We interviewed the creator of the self-help website The Strange Is Beautiful, Shannen Roberts

Our discussion on The Black Panther, in film and in comics

March Recap

The best highlight of this month was being invited to read in Oakland for The Wandering Song. Here are some pictures of me reading as well as some amazing Central American writers.

Publications:

My short poem on crying in the first issue of Berry Magazine

This month on Conchas Y Contras:

Growing up as weird brown girls

Discussing our views on feminism