13 Phrases #2: Niki Eskobar

Niki Eskobar is a revolutionary, a mother-to-be, an animal rights activist, a strong and beautiful women's rights champion. In the midst of all that she is, she still has time to create, but not without reason. Each verse she delivers and painting she shares is an ode to the struggle. Her words are powerful and thought-provoking. I am more than a fan of her work. Esko inspires me to not only be a better writer, but a better fighter. Enjoy installment #2 of "13 Phrases," featuring Niki Eskobar. Shalom.

1. By day,
I am chlorophyll, by night I am the moth.

2. I write best when I have had a full day of absorbing other people's art (poetry, rap, photography, painting, guitar, etc). Exposing myself to the process and stories of others is a part of writing practice. Sometimes it is not possible to see an art show or visit a friend's house; so, I have to read everyday in order to be full.

3. When I find it difficult to complete a piece, I stay away from it for a long time. Initially, I stay away because I am scared of it. I'm scared that the piece will prove that I am an incapable writer. I assume that I will leave it alone forever. Eventually (a week or a month later) I pull it out again and face it. Then I realize, again, that distancing myself from raw work is a part of writing. Just as a writer goes back in time and memory, a writer's process is the Cha-cha.

4. Three things that help me recover from Writer's Block are: journaling, reading, live shows. I journal for a couple hours a day (diary-entry type words) to carve tunnels through barriers. Then, I read anything from comic books to news articles. Days or weeks pass and I am able to rejuvenate and shed skin. Starting last December until the end of January, I did nothing but read a book every 2-6 days and marked my favorite lines and ideas. I've also found that the most inspiring words come from the youth. Seeing live hip-hop shows put on by local youth sparks new possibilities. Last year I made it a goal to see as many shows as possible. This can keep writer's block far, far away.

5. I starting writing because I was given a lot of paper, pencils, and art kits as a kid. I would sit at my desk and draw for hours. When I learned how to construct sentences, I told the stories of my drawings. Everyone in my family thought that I only liked to draw but the truth is that I have filled up more notebooks with short stories and poetry than drawing pads.

6. I continued to write because I need to continuously discover my relationship to this world. Much of this need stems from cultural history and identity. In many ways, I am displaced, and story-telling through poetry and other forms best encourages this non-linear learning.

7. I will always write because "the writer who is a writer is a rebel who never stops." Even if I lost my hands, there will always be a way to write!

8. If I weren't a writer, it would be because I never learned how to spell, use a pen, and read. I could still paint, or take photos, or play piano. An artist is an artist because of creativity, not the genre or medium.

9. The [writers] who influence and inspire my work are Walt Whitman, Pablo Neruda, Cherrie Moraga, Patrick Rosal, Janice Mirikitani, Barbara Jane Reyes, Langston Hughes, Mike Avila (his poems & his letters), Ricardo Flores Magon, Jose Garcia Villa, Joma Sison, Tess Uriza Holthe, Pele, Blue Scholars, Kiwi, Bambu, Nomi/Power Struggle, Yusef Komunyakaa, the infamous Meredith Hobbs, Juan Felipe Herrera, bell hooks (to name a few).

10. The most important goal I have as a writer is to remain in wonder of the world. Have you ever met someone who seemed to know everything? Or someone who didn't try anything new because they had heard about it before? Or someone who doesn't look at the stars? I hate that.

11. People who read my work are most likely going to want to jump on police cars at a rally or disagree with my take on presidents. I think those who are genuinely interested are either established in their communities or are finding their place. I hope that at least one person can read my words and use it as another jumping point from reflection to self-critiquing.

12. My most significant piece to date is the one that's on its way to me.

13. There is nothing more important than passion. I will say it over and over: passion can lead one to her community, to her talents, to her family and friends, to true wealth. It makes all the difference in the world.

Excerpt from "Mushy Moons, Sentimental Suns":

Venid a ver la sangre por las calles!
Come see the blood in the streets!
From “Explico Algunos Cosas,” Pablo Neruda

Do not speak of flowers, stay as far away
As possible, he advises the class. I look down
At my paper & with one finger I inch it closer
& closer to the edge of the desk & slip
It onto my lap. He asks if anyone wants to read
Their work. No one raises a hand, & so he calls
On the one with averted eyes: me. I shake
My head, but the skin between his brows begins to pinch.
Once again, most of my words will be avoided or dropped
From memory like a heap of squirming, succulent worms.
Standing as a feature in the 1904 World’s Fair,
My own pinched brows exhibit my anger, as my entertained
Classmates examine me. Do not speak of flowers. Stay
Away. With these words pounding behind my eyes, a branding
Iron glow starts to grow hot on my tongue.

Contact Niki Eskobar: http://freskocity.wordpress.com
Email: undone.outdone{at}gmail.com
Website: http://www.myspace.com/endsocialapathy
Buy: I'm working on my manuscript! For now, I will be in the forthcoming issue of Solo Café.

1 Engage in Discourse:

Eb the Celeb said...

I love her answer to #8

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