VAH: Ruben, do you have a favorite conference or writing event and what makes that event a favorite?
RQ: Just one? Vermont Studio Center was a great experience because you are given so much time and space to write. I also enjoy that it’s not just writers in residence at VSC. I had the chance to meet visual artists as well. Being able to speak with them about how they approached their work let me have new perspective on my process.
VAH: The opportunity to speak with others about how one’s “art” develops is also one of the draws for me when attending conferences or retreats. So often gems are traded from that experience of sharing the process of creation.
You write and teach writing – are you a full time writer or full time teacher?
RQ: I’d say if you are serious about writing, you are a full-time writer regardless of what else you do in life to make money. I’m also an assistant professor. I teach poetry, digital storytelling, playwriting, queer studies, composition, and screenwriting. Both teaching and writing are my occupations. Sometimes they compete for my time, but I make the time required for both because that what I want to do.
VAH: When you are the reader, What books or authors keep you up at night because you can’t put them down?
RQ: The Clerk’s Tale by Spencer Reece; Space, in Chains by Laura Kasischke; When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz; Hustle by David Tomas Martinez; Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.
VAH: What book or series of books would you want if stranded on a deserted island and why?
RQ: Obviously they would have to books I would return to again and again, so I’d want some Ovid, Gabriela Mistral, Thomas Hardy, and W.H. Auden. I’m a fan of the quotidian and high art and these writers offer me insight into the high, the low, and everything in-between. I want to feel alive and be reminded of it when I read and that’s why I’d choose these writers.
VAH: That has to be one of my favorite questions in Three by Five as each author gives such interesting responses.
If there was a movie about your life and times, who would play you? What would the theme song be, and why?
RQ: Some friends and I were actually had a conversation about who would play us in movies and it was really difficult to come up with someone for me. There are not enough Latino actors working today. Perhaps an unknown actor would be best.
VAH: Ahh, an opportunity is out there then. Ruben, thank you for contributing your insights and comments with this second installment of Three by Five.
Read some of Ruben’s work at poetry blog The The Poetry.
The third interview installment will publish September 23rd. More from Ruben Quesada then!
Ruben Quesada is the author of Next Extinct Mammal (2011) and Luis Cernuda: Exiled from the Throne of Night (2008). He is Poetry Editor for Cobalt Review, Codex Journal and The Cossack Review. His writing has appeared in The American Poetry Review, Cimarron Review, The Rumpus, and Superstition Review. He teaches English and creative
writing for the performing arts at Eastern Illinois University.