Tag Archives: Ruben Quesada

Ruben Quesada Three by Five Part III

ruben 3Finishing up Three by Five’s interview with Poet Ruben Quesada.


VAH: The blank page stares back at you, what gets you over writers block?

RQ: Art is a big inspiration for me, so when I’m feeling blocked I turn to the works of art that might have inspired others. Usually something new will strike me about the painting and I’ll be able to start working. Music is helpful too. Anything from Mariah Carey to the Beach Boys to Wagner can provide inspiration.

VAH: What does your typical writing day include?

RQ: Right now, it includes a lot of revision since I’m getting my next manuscript ready. It includes reading, listening to music, or if I’m in the mood, having a movie playing in the background as I work.

VAH: What are your thoughts on the writing community – are there writing or author organizations you belong to or online sites ou frequent for community, conversing, networking or commiserating? And do you have some favorites?

RQ: I’m very active on Twitter, which has really given me the opportunity to connect with other writers and maintain friendships I’ve made with writers at AWP or Canto Mundo. Twitter is a great platform to talk about writing or just share about the work of other writers that I enjoy.

VAH:  Traditional or independent publishing? Or a little of both? What choices have you made and why did you go the way you have?

RQ: It depends on what your goals are in terms of writing. There are many wonderful independent publishers that support their writers and have helped get some terrific work out into the world. My first collection, Next Extinct Mammal, was with an independent press and that was a good experience. I’d like to be published by a bigger press as well. What is most important is to publish with people who you are comfortable with and would be proud to say published your work. Never publish with a press just because it’s a publication. Make sure it’s a good fit for both of you.

VAH: Best bit of advice to save another writer some anxiety or heartache?

RQ: Don’t spend too much comparing yourself to other writers in terms of career trajectory. Things happen at a different pace for everyone. Be ambitious; strive for more, work hard, and it will happen. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen as quickly as you want it to.

VAH: What’s next for you? Do you have a work in progress you can tell us about?

RQ: I’m finishing my second collection of poetry right now. I’m also working on a paper about queer horror movies called “The Horror of Heterosexuality.” I’m excited to have started some new poems that I think are the start of a third collection. I’m also working on video poems. My video poem “Dark Matter” was recently released by Poetryseen.com.  RubenQuesada w book cover

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Ruben Quesada Part II, Three by Five Author Interviews

ruben 3Welcome to Part II of the three segment interview with Poet Ruben Quesada.

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.

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Dr. Ruben Quesda @ Three by Five Part I

rubenThis month, Three by Five is happy to host Dr. Ruben Quesda, Ph.D. He is a Poet as well as an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing for the Performing Arts at Eastern Illinois University.


VAH: Ruben, Three by Five always starts with the inquiry why do you write?

RQ: I write because art and poetry are meant to push boundaries and discuss issues in the community that might be uncomfortable or that people might not want to discuss. The goal of my poetry is to cause conversation about race, queerness, death, and our human experience. We deal with big issues everyday, so writing is a way for me to process and try to understand them.

VAH: Some challenging topics to address. What do you do when the blank page stares back at you?

RQ: Art is a big inspiration for me, so when I’m feeling blocked I turn to the works of art that might have inspired others. Usually something new will strike me about the painting and I’ll be able to start working. Music is helpful too. Anything from Mariah Carey to the Beach Boys to Wagner can provide inspiration.

VAH: What inspired you to become a writer?

RQ: I published a poem anonymously in my high school paper during my freshman year and it caused quite a stir. I knew then that there was power in my writing. It was exciting. I continued writing and in my senior I won a high school writing competition sponsored by the Los Angeles Times. And it was that moment that I knew writing was all I wanted to do for a living.

VAH: What is your best advice for emerging writers who are discovering that writing is what they want to do for a living?

RQ: Read. Write. Repeat. It’s common advice, but it’s that way because it’s true. Write as much as you can. Read as much as you can. If you are interested in a particular style read all that you can about it and become an expert on it. I think it’s important to know the history of the style you are writing in, so that you know how you fit into the tradition, but also that you know how you are contributing something new to it as well.

VAH: Knowing and understanding the style of writing a writer is growing into is an important facet of the writer’s education. What are your thoughts on studying writing? You’ve an MFA – has the degree helped your career progress or development?

RQ: I do have an MFA. It was helpful in that it allowed me to explore poetry more closely and see what it excited in me as a writer. The MFA as a studio degree is about the creation of work, which is, of course, very useful. However, it doesn’t usually allow a lot of time for the consideration of theory and how your work fits in among a particular theory or historical moment. My time at Texas Tech for my Ph.D allowed me to make such considerations.

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Introducing Ruben Quesada @ Three by Five in September

rubenRuben Quesada – Poet and Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing for the Performing Arts at Eastern Illinois University

Dr. Ruben Quesada is founder and publisher of Codex Journal, poetry editor at The Cossack Review and Cobalt Review, and poetry editor at Luna Luna Magazine.

Founder of Stories & Queer, a non profit, traveling reading series whose mission is to create safe storytelling spaces for poets & writers of color in underrepresented areas of the country, he now serves as its creative consultant.

A Pushcart Prize nominee in poetry, his writing has appeared in The American Poetry Review, The California Journal of Poetics, Superstition Review, Guernica, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere.

Ruben has been a fellow and resident at CantoMundo, Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, Vermont Studio Center, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Santa Fe Art Institute, Lambda Literary Foundation Writer’s Retreat, and Idyllwild Arts Program.

Visit his webpage for info on a current call for submissions for Latin@ poets at any stage in their careers.

More about and from Dr. Ruben Quesada this month on days with a three.


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