by S. M. Logu
Professor and poet T. Jackie Cuevas captures all the woes and struggles that families face in her poetry, from the beautiful moment of birth to the tragedy of loss. She is the co-founder of a small publishing company based in Austin, Texas called Evelyn Street Press which promotes the publication of queer writers of color. Cuevas was gracious enough to recently provide insight about her life as a writer and teacher of Latino/a literature at the University of Texas at San Antonio via email.
S. M. Logu: What inspired you to start teaching?
T. Jackie Cuevas: One of my first jobs as a teen was tutoring other students, and it gave me great satisfaction to help people learn, especially when they thought they couldn’t. In grad school, I had some great profs who ran summer writing workshops for youth, and they recruited me to teach workshops, where I fell in love with teaching.
SML: Why did you choose to teach Latino/a literature/studies? Has this been an influence in your writing?
T. JC: Latino/a literature is a dynamic field that continues to grow, and I find it exciting to see what new worlds Latina/o writers imagine. I’m sure my writing has been influenced by being exposed to so many Latino/a texts, and Latino/a cultural elements figure into some of my work.
SML: What inspired you to start writing?
T. JC: I think what inspired me to start writing was being heartbroken by the world while also being in love with it and trying to use writing to sort through that.
SML: What is your favorite genre to write in? Do you prefer poetry over others? Why?
T. JC: Often it’s poetry, though lately I’m also writing fiction and non-fiction.
SML: I see that you are a co-founder of Evelyn Street Press. Are you still involved with it and if so what is its mission?
T. JC: Yes, I’m still involved with Evelyn Street Press, but we’ve slowed down our output and now mainly focus on keeping previous titles in print. Its mission is to promote writing by queer writers, with an emphasis on queer writers of color. We’ve published some fabulous writer such as Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano and Virginia Grise, and we’ve collaborated with Kórima Press to publish Anel Flores. We’ve also worked with ALLGO: Queer People of Color Organization to put out some anthologies that feature writers such as Ana-Maurine Lara and Adelina Anthony.
T. Jackie Cuevas is Assistant Professor of Latina/o Literary and Cultural Studies in the UTSA Department of English. Her scholarly research engages the intersections of Latina/o literature, queer theory, and feminist studies. She co-founded Evelyn Street Press, a small press that promotes writing by queer people of color. She also belongs to Macondo, the creative writing collective founded by Sandra Cisneros. Cuevas’ creative writing has appeared in publications such as Sinister Wisdom, Stone Canoe, a chapbook called Otherhood, U.S.A. from Tanto Tinto Press, and the introduction to the third edition of Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (Aunt Lute, 2007). She has read and performed her poetry with writers such as Sharon Bridgforth, Pedro Pietri, and Cherríe Moraga.