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An interview with Andrea Hernández Holm

~ MariJo Moore

                    “Poetry is knowledge, salvation, power, abandonment.'' - Octavio Paz

Writing poetry is a way to breathe out emotions,

share these emotions with others and hopefully

reiterate the fact that we are all similar in some

ways. When I read the poetry of others who

seem to have the same reasoning, I am always

impressed as I am with Andrea Hernández

Holm’s lovely new book of poetry “Not Enough,

Too Much.” The writings in this inspiring collection

are a mixture of poems that are erudite, political,

soul-searching and often touching, giving readers

a poetic view of Mexican values and history.

Andrea is a desert storyteller, poet, and scholar,

and is the first graduate of the doctoral studies

program in the Mexican American Studies Department at the University of Arizona. She also holds masters degrees in Mexican American Studies and American Indian Studies. Andrea's research focus is writing, storytelling, and knowledge-keeping. She is also a writing specialist and has assisted emerging and established writers in developing their voices for 20 years. Born and raised in the desert of central Arizona, Andrea's writing focuses on the exploration of identity. I interviewed this extraordinary author to ask her to share more about her creative process and poetry.

MM: Why did you choose poetry as a way to express your culture, traditions, take on life, etc.?

AHH: I actually write in numerous genres but poetry is always first in my process. To be honest, it is often often last too. Poems tend to be my opening and closing prayers. Poetry provides the form and function to lift certain stories, to offer them in ways that prose doesn’t. It sends them in the directions of healing, questioning, sorting— whichever directions they need to go.

MM: Can you tell me about the title poem “Not Enough, Too Much”? What inspired this personal revelatory creation?

Not Enough,Too Much

I must be broken

some kind of illegal Spanglish poet del este lado

crossing borders between identities

with words and dreams

that reveal my truth

not enough too much

Chicana Mestiza

not enough too much

Spanish Indigena

not enough too much

of everything and nothing

AHH: As a Mexicana in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, I have often been made to feel both at home and displaced in these spaces. It’s an experience I engage with in this book in almost every poem because it reflects and shapes who I am and how I relate to my world. I think many share this experience—this feeling of being both connected to and disconnected from language, traditions, land, or community because of borders manufactured by historical events. This poem is one that moves in multiple directions and times. I read it up and down, top to bottom, and then reverse, left to right and right to left. As much as it might sound like that would be chaotic, the experience it tells stays steady and constant. And that’s how it feels--both chaotic and precise-- to be forced to explain about or defend one’s own identity.

MM: I truly like the poem,“Why is writing a poem so hard?” (excerpt below). Can you please expound on it?

I know poetry

I’ve eaten 100 poems

And let their flavor tantalize my taste buds

And imagination long into the night, I know what poems sound like, feel like,

look like

I can close my eyes and see

Words darting through darkness

Slamming into one another

United in power

And they form some great poems

Some dare I say




Poems that cross borders

Erase borders

Consume borders…

AHH: This poem reflects my relationship with poetry and speaks to the urgency that the process has for me. I think all poems are prayers. Some poems are memory prayers, some are dream prayers or fear prayers, some are musing and imagining prayers. All are small, grand, dark, dirty, bright, hungry, angry, loving, beautiful prayers that we offer up hoping someone, someone or something bigger than us, will capture and place exactly where they need to be, to fit in order to make things move, keep moving toward healing or wholeness, toward a moment when everything feels right. And we feel right.

As an Indigenous writer/poet/editor, I highly recommend this collection to anyone interested in the mechanics of cultural poetry, as well as those who enjoy heartfelt writing. In addition, these poems are energetic and beautiful – which we all need during thee days of change and uncertainty. The engaging cover art is also by the author. NOT ENOUGH, TOO MUCH is published by Flowersong Press which offers copies at quantity discount to education, business, or sales promotional use. info@flowersongpresscom.

MariJo Moore is a writer/artist/anthologist/editor/publisher of Cherokee descent. She has authored over 27 books including novels, poetry, books of short stories, books of quotes, and compiled and edited various anthologies of Indigenous writings such as Genocide of the Mind: New Native Writings; Nation Books, NYC and Power of the Storm: Indigenous Voices, Visions, and Determination; rENEGADE pLANETS pUBLISHING, NC. Her essays, poems, artwork and editorial commentaries have appeared in many magazines, anthologies, newspapers and online. She resides in Asheville, NC.