On Tuesday, March 26, Our Lady of the Lake University held a poetry reading for Spring 2019 Visiting Writer ire’ne lara silva. Along with identifying as a Chicana feminist poet from Austin, Texas, Silva is the visiting writer for English professor Dr. Octavio Quintanilla’s undergraduate poetry classes. At the reading, silva spoke about how much she enjoyed working with passionate OLLU students this semester.
She also briefly discussed her Latina literary influences like Gloria Anzaldúa and announced that she would read a few poems in her newest forthcoming collection with Saddle Road Press, “Cuicacalli/House of Song” released later this month. Silva explained that another poem she would read, titled “i come from women illiterate and rough-skinned,” originated from her personal response to a Virginia Woolf quote in a fellowship prompt.
Silva read the quote from Virginia Woolf aloud: “Women have sat indoors all these millions of years, so that by this time, the very walls are permeated by their creative force, which has, indeed so overcharged the capacity of bricks and mortar that it must needs harness itself to pens and brushes and business and politics.”
“Poetry is a creative way to communicate in the world,” silva said to the audience in PWSR. She went on to discuss her book of poems about diabetes, death and amputation. As a poet, she said she noticed a shortage of stories, poems and memoirs written about diabetes and other illnesses.
“What happens when you want to reject something that you are?” silva asked. Briefly, she shared stories about individuals who shamed themselves in silence because of their illness.
“The whole book [was] an attempt to face my fears. I needed to talk about shame. Shame keeps us alive,” she said. According to silva, multicultural identities existed not only as sources of pain, but also as sources of strength. Silva’s “Flesh to Bone” (2013) documents nine stories told from the perspective of women on the border.
Likewise, silva is the author of three poetry chapbooks, two full-length books of poetry, an e-chapbook and one short story collection. She’s currently working on her first novel, “Naci.” In addition, Silva is also the recipient of a 2017 NALAC Fund for the Arts Grant, the final recipient of the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Award, the Fiction Finalist for AROHO’s 2013 Gift of Freedom Award and the 2008 recipient of the Gloria Anzaldúa Milagro Award.
Silva’s poetry, short stories and essays have appeared in over fifty journals and anthologies, including “Mas Tequila Review,” “Kweli Journal,” and “The Weight of Addition: Texas Poetry Anthology.”