New Latina is thrilled to be an official stop on the Count on Me: Tales of Sisterhood and Fierce Friendships book tour hosted by Condor Book Tours. Count on Me, by Las Comadres Para Las Americas and edited by Adriana V. Lopez, features stories from twelve prominent Latina/o authors who reveal how friendships have helped them to overcome difficult moments in their lives. Below is an intimate interview with one of the book’s contributors, Esmeralda Santiago, as provided by Las Comadres.
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Las Comadres’ Interview with Esmeralda Santiago
What do you hope readers will take away from Las Comais?
If a Latina doesn’t have a Comadre in her life, I hope that through my story and through the other stories, that Latinas will feel an urge to seek out and rekindle those types of relationships. It is important to understand that this notion of a Comadre is a big aspect of our culture and it should be preserved, encouraged and expanded. We get a lot out of the relationship on both sides. Having the support of another woman and being able to be supportive to another woman is such a lovely thing about our culture.
What’s it like having a Comadre?
A Comadre is open minded and when they give you advice it’s based on you, not them. That’s a very valuable thing to have in your life. My Comadres know me well and they know how to listen. I think this is one of the things I value most. These are people that I count on, that I trust, and that I call upon. And it doesn’t matter if they areLatinaor not. Most of my Comadres are not Latinas. You get your family when you’re born, but you get to choose your friends. To have a Comadre is somebody that you choose and with whom you may have a different connection than an aunt or a sister. It’s not about the language and it’s not even about the generation. I have many younger Comadres. It’s about the person and the emotional connection. You have friends that you go dancing with or have drinks with, and this might be more social. But with a Comadre, it’s beyond a social connection, it becomes a familial connection. I think that brings it to a higher level than even the most intimate of friendships.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement was to graduate from high school. I’m not being funny or ironic. When I was a teenager, the expectation was that I would probably drop out of high school by 15, start having kids, and become a young Puerto Rican girl living on welfare. That was the norm. It wasn’t easy for me to graduate from high school. I entered high school not having been in the U.S. very long. When I graduated high school, it made me really understand and believe that I could do anything I wanted to. You have dreams but you don’t have goals until you have reached one goal that was hard to reach. When I graduated, I realized you don’t just have dreams, you must have steps to reach them. So then I began to set goals for myself. That’s how my life has progressed. Each time I raise the bar a little higher.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer?
I used to be a dancer for many years so I might be doing that. However, the one thing I wish I could be is an opera singer. I really admire the voice of opera singers. I love music and especially classical music. And this love of music is something that I’ve passed to my children. Now grown, both of my children are artists and I’m proud of that.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I’m inspired by art and music. If there are days that I need inspiration, I spend an entire day at a museum or listen to classical music. I also take long walks. Being in nature is a very big part of my life. There’s nothing like feeling the sun on your skin or listening to the ruffle of leaves. Being connected to my environment inspires me. I’m also very inspired by the ancients. I really feel very connected to literature when it was oral, then written down and passed down. The classics are something that we don’t really teach in schools anymore but I’m old enough that I can remember their influence on me growing up. I love the Iliad. I read a portion of it every year. Every 3 or 4 years I read the whole thing. I have several translations and also have it on audio. I’m also a big fan of poetry.
Do you have a favorite quote or motto to live by?
Adelante! Go forward. Whenever I’m feeling down or something has gone differently from what I expected, I tell myself KEEP MOVING FORWARD. You can’t go backwards. You can only go forward. I try not to spend a lot of time regretting the things that didn’t work out but instead constantly trying to make whatever is going to happen next as positive and satisfying as possible.
Why are you proud to be a Latina?
I am proud to be a Latina because I have a full fascinating history in this hemisphere that I would not trade for any other.
Learn more about Esmeralda Santiago at http://www.esmeraldasantiago.com
Information about the book:
Count On Me: Tales of Sisterhoods and Fierce Friendships (Atria Books)
Edited by Adriana V. López
- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Atria Books; Original edition (September 4, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1451642016
- ISBN-13: 978-1451642018
Also available in e-book for Kindle, iTunes & Nook
To order go to http://www.countonmebook.com/
and click on the orange ORDER button on the Left.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book to review from Condor Book Tours. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.