Eight, Arizona PBS Arizona MAKERS series showcases Arizona women who broke new ground in their respective fields. View a discussion with one of the women featured in the series, Pulitzer Prize nominee and multiaward-winning author Stella Pope Duarte.
Jose Cardenas: Joining me now is Pulitzer Prize nominee, award winning author, and one of the featured Arizona "Makers," Stella Pope Duarte. Stella, welcome back to "Horizonte."
Stella Pope Duarte: I am glad to be here.
Jose Cardenas: We want to talk about your new book but let's talk about this award that you received, Arizona "Makers." You were in some pretty top flight company there.
Stella Pope Duarte: Yes, yes, it was. I was actually, I was kind of surprised when I got notified that I had been nominated. And they had gone through a process and I had been selected. So I was, I felt like privileged already just to be amongst these other women. And certainly many, many other talented women from Arizona that I am sure could have filled the same shoes. I was very, very happy.
Jose Cardenas: Why was it of particular significance to you?
Stella Pope Duarte: It was because, like I said, I come from what mainstream America would say was this poverty-stricken little barrio in south Phoenix. And yet there was so much there that led me to where I am today. The faith and the beauty of who my family was in the culture. And then the fact that my mother, my grandmother, my great-grandmother, they were not educated. My mother never drove a car, that kind of thing. Which doesn't mean she was less of a person. I am just saying she never had that opportunity. So for me to now move forward in this type of strength and in the way that I hope that my work is honoring women worldwide, is something that I am sure that these ladies from my past would be so proud of. And I am doing it for them.
Jose Cardenas: Let's talk about your new book. "Writing through revelations, visions and dreams, a memoir of a writer." We have a picture of the cover of the book on the screen. And there's a significance to that spiral staircase. Tell us about that.
Stella Pope Duarte: Yes, spiral staircase is why I am sitting in front of you today, José. Because in 1995, I had a dream. And in that dream, I was lost, which isn't abnormal for me. And I, in the dream I came down a flight of stairs and my father was standing at the bottom of the stairs in his work clothes. He takes my hand and leads me to that spiral staircase.
Jose Cardenas: Your father had passed away.
Stella Pope Duarte: My father had passed away 10 years away from the dream. And so here's my dad telling me, it's right here. He used the Spanish word, my daughter. What you have to do next is right in front of you. Then I woke up with this glorious image in my mind of the spiral staircase up into the blue, blue sky. And my dad telling me. And it was two weeks before I uncovered because I journal a lot and when I wrote the message in my computer, it's right there what you have to do next. I realized in a cathartic moment, a revelation, that's why
I write on revelations because I have had so many of them. And we all do. It's just for us to understand. That's what it is, it's a revelation. Something that's deep inside of us.
Jose Cardenas: That's the one that got you started as a writer?
Stella Pope Duarte: Yes.
Jose Cardenas: Now, the book is in many ways kind of a how-to for writers and I read Sim of the reviews people writing saying what it meant to them in terms of them helping them develop their own skills. One of the bits of advice you give, and this is toward the end of the book, is that you need to be able to describe your own work. In a very brief way. Perhaps even a one-liner. That's the one-liner that describes this book?
Stella Pope Duarte: I am glad you asked that because I challenge all my creative writing students to do that. To describe their work in many different ways. And I would just say it's learning the language of your own soul. And I always tell people because in my particular culture when I was a little girl and we spoke Spanish in school, we were ridiculed or we were told we could not do that. I always tell students, it doesn't matter how many languages you speak. As a matter ever fact the more languages you speak the better for you. But you must understand the language of your own soul. It doesn't matter whether the language, as long as you understand the language of your own soul which means, who am I? What is my purpose here? What is my identity? And how do I uncover it? How do I pay attention to dreams? And things that are metaphorical?
Jose Cardenas: As I mentioned in some ways, it is a how-to but it's also autobiographically and you touched on some of your experience. You talked about an abusive relationship. You talk about that in your book as well. And you talk about other very, very personal things. How did that feel?
Stella Pope Duarte: It for me it was very cathartic, again, something I think I was ready to do because I have yet to write a memoir like this one. And this one is very, very personal memoir. And in the relationship with my ex-husband, I bring that out in one of my stories because my stories reflect where I have been as a human being. And like I tell my students, we are here to interpret human nature. And what I learned through that particular relationship was, if you come to terms with a dark parts of who you are, you won't have to marry them.
Jose Cardenas: Explain that story because I thought it was one of the best parts of the book.
Stella Pope Duarte: Yeah. So if I come to terms with anger or trying to control others, or you know, feelings of selfishness or low self-esteem, if I come to terms of it, I am not going to have to marry someone to change because I'm busy dealing with my own soul.
Jose Cardenas: Stella, we are almost out of time. What is up next?
Stella Pope Duarte: I am still working, José, on the biography of ambassador Raul. And this gentleman has marked the history in his own life of America for so many years. What an icon. And what a privilege to do his biography. So I am still hard at work. Would you give me an interview with the ambassador? I would be more than glad to include it in my book because I am still gathering information but that's what I am working on.
Jose Cardenas: We will make a point to have you back on the show. He's been a guest on our show as well. He is a great man. It's a great subject. Thank you for joining us to talk about your latest effort. We look forward to talking to you.
Stella Pope Duarte: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Stella Pope Duarte:Author, MAKERS