with Adrian Ernesto Cepeda:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Adrian: Mi Papi gifted me his antique typewriter and I would write Star Trek stories and Sports Newsletters. It was later on, during my undergrad when my first poetry started to flourish. I was influenced by Pablo Neruda, Jack Kerouac, Jim Morrison, Lou Reed, Liz Phair, PJ Harvey.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Adrian: Sylvia Plath, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Patti Smith, Sandra Cisneros, Gris Muñoz, Carmen Maria Machado, Anaïs Nin, Anne Sexton, and Alfredo Aguilar said it best: “Read other’s work as generously as you’d like your own work to be read.”
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?
Adrian: I was born in Detroit, Michigan and grew up in South Texas, specifically Laredo and San Antonio. Being the only member of mi familia who was born in the United States, I mostly spoke English to my parents in the house. Much recently, I have embraced and honored the bilingual aspect of poetic voice in my latest collection de poesias Speaking con su Sombra. Bilingual poems inspired by and dedicated to mi Mami who passed away in 2017.
Living in New Orleans, Chicago and visiting South Carolina, Portland and Paris, France has influenced the way I hear language. Being someone who stutters with a speech impediment, I am fascinated with dialects, accents, and languages different from my own. Reading poets like Leila Chatti, Naomi Shihab Nye, Amy Shimshon-Santo, Tiana Clark and Forough Farrokhzad has influenced me to honor my own voice, cultura and lenguas in my own poesia.
Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?
My latest collection Speaking con su Sombra that will be published this September with Alegría Publishing. This collection is a passion personal project that I have been writing for over five years. It is only recently that I have discovered the strength to finish these poems that were influenced by mi Mami who’s guidance and inspiration are the reason Sombra is finally being published. I am so proud of this new book. The poems in this collection reflects the true me that I have been afraid to show to the world as a poet. The bilingual aspect shows who I am, where I came from, how I was raised. Sombra is a poetry collection 50 years in the making. My true bilingual voice appears on every page in a personal voz that I hope these poemas will connect universally with my readers.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Adrian: For years I experienced fear and self-doubt that I could actually make a living as a poet. It did not help that when I attempted to read my poems aloud in open mic readings I would stammer and stutter over almost every line. But something changed, one day, at the San Gabriel Poetry Reading, I was in the middle of reciting one of my most erotic poems and something mystical happened to me. As I read, this poem, the words flowed out merging so powerfully with my voice. I realized as I walked away from the mic and when someone in the audience whispered to me after I finished reading, “That was the best poem I have ever read in my life.” This started the path of me making a career as a poet. Soon after this reading, I was accepted and earned my degree from Antioch University’s MFA program, publishing my first book Flashes & Verses…Becoming Attractions with Unsolicited Press. I always was ashamed of my stutter, but after that reading and all I learned while earning my MFA degree at Antioch LA is the reason, I have a career as an award winning/published poet today.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Adrian: Walking with my wife in nature. Reading UK music magazines and biographies on my favorite artists, writers, and musicians. Watching Jeopardy.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
I am preparing some readings promoting my latest poetry collection Speaking con su Sombra with Alegría Publishing. Things are still in the planning stages. I will post more info on my social media accounts.
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others? A favorite piece of art?
“I am blessed with impulses. I reproduce myself. I love.”
— Julia de Burgos
My favorite photograph is one my wife and I took, when we were first dating, in front of this glowing fiery fountain at Pat O’Brien’s in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Legend has it if a couple take a photo in front of that fountain, you will marry each other. And it came true.
One of my favorite art pieces is The Blue Boy (1770) by Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) oil on canvas, on display at The Huntington Gallery in San Marino, CA,
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Adrian: Mi Mami, my esposa Michelle, mi Papi, my mentors: Silke Feltz, Dr. Kirsten Ogden, Alma Luz Villanueva, Gayle Brandeis, Carol Potter, Bart Edelman, Richard Garcia, Juan Felipe Herrera, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Francesca Lia Block and Lidia Yuknavitch. They have believed in me and have been a part of this journey that I continue to thrive on and off as a poet of my live on and off the pages I write, every day of my vida as a proud poeta.
Adrian Ernesto is the author of Flashes & Verses… Becoming Attractions from Unsolicited Press, Between the Spine from Picture Show Press and La Belle Ajar & We Are the Ones Possessed from CLASH Books and Speaking con su Sombra with Alegría Publishing.
His poetry has been featured in Harvard Palabritas, Glass Poetry: Poets Resist, Cultural Weekly, Yes, Poetry, Frontier Poetry, The Fem, poeticdiversity, Rigorous, Luna Luna Magazine, The Wild Word, The Revolution Relaunch and Palette Poetry.
Adrian is an Angelino Poet who lives with his wife and their adorably spoiled cat Woody Gold in Los Angeles.
“Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me.”
― Sigmund Freud