UTEP professor and author Alessandra Narváez Varela published her very first book last year titled “Thirty Strange Love Talks.” Narváez Varela explains that she created this reverse novel to open the eyes of many and start conversations.

Narváez Varela wrote her very first poem in high school titled “Dearly Beloved”, she explains that this poem was born out of a place of loving someone and they don’t love you back and as you go. As she progressed, she discovered that poems don’t have to be about love they can also include important messages.

“It’s very common for a lot of people, because we associate poetry with good feelings, and I’m going to let that out, and also emotions,” Narvaez Varela noted. “Little by little, especially when I started the master’s program, I began to realize the social justice component that poetry could have. This is the meaning of my work. »

Writing has not always been the purpose of Narváez Varela before she started writing, she planned to go to medical school, so she decided to major in biology and minor in chemistry. She wrote stories and poems sporadically, but she never considered herself a doctor and when she wasn’t accepted right away to medical school, she enrolled in writing classes. creative.

“It all happened when I started my masters, it became a very concerted effort, but thankfully I evolved from ‘dearly beloved’ to poems wanting to start that conversation with readers on social justice issues that concern me, my identity or my community,” said Narváez Varela.

“Trent is about strange love” is a reverse novel, which means it is a story told through poems.

Narváez Varela explained that her book is semi-autobiographical, where she would draw from her own experiences. Regarding her motivation to write her book, Narváez Varela explains that she wanted to discuss the ongoing feminicides happening in Ciudad Juárez while opening the discussion about mental health and mental illness. She considers her writing as service poetry.

“I wanted to present home because that’s what it is for many of us, I don’t currently live there, but it was my home for 20 years. It is still the home of nearly 1,000,000 people,” says Narvaez Varela. “So in writing about the house, I want other readers whose own towns or villages or places of origin are downplayed to question that and say how do you want to present the story of your house. I seek to serve in a small but very intentional way through writing.

The theme of mental health is one of the major subjects of Narvaez Varela’s book. She explained how she went through a depressive episode that changed her life, at the age of 17 she attempted to take her own life. Narváez Varela explained that it was a blow because she was always focused on success and studies.

Alessandra Narvaez answers questions from students during the book reading Thirty Talks Weird Love on Wednesday, January 26 at University Suite. (Maria Salette Ontiveros)

“My assumption is that if I had told someone about it sooner, who knows what would have happened,” Narváez Varela said. “I don’t regret what brought me here, but at the same time, I want others to catch up to this point, especially young adult readers, but also adults. I know it’s a bit cliché, but it’s never late to wonder how you feel and talk to someone. Speaking of adult readers, whoever understands this, a dream would be of them looking at themselves younger with kindness and love and saying, “You look beautiful.”

Narváez Varela’s inspiration for writing includes poets Sandra Cisneros, Patricia Smith, Evie Shockley, Toni Morrison, Juan Felipe Herrera and Martín Espada. Regarding young adults Margarita Engle, Guadalupe Garcia McCall and Anna-Marie Mclemore. She also draws her inspiration from her parents, she explains her mother’s beautiful letters and her father’s incredible vocabulary.

“Juan Felipe Herrera because he is America’s first Latinx Poet Laureate, what he means to writers like me is beyond words”, says Narvaez Varela. “They were beautiful letters and I really enjoyed how impacted I was by just works. So that led me to writing, and I was just very curious about the power that a written note could have. He (my father) contributed to my curiosity for the language because he has an incredible vocabulary.

Advice Narváez Varela would empower an aspiring writer to read as many books as possible, find another poet writer and make a connection and understand that he dates back to review.

“Practice taking notes and understanding what a writer is trying to do, it’s so valuable that you don’t need an instructor there,” Narváez Varela said. “Help your fellow writers, support their work, celebrate their wins because I truly believe that if in my community a fellow writer or poet publishes, that’s a win for all of us. When you get a book you like, don’t Chances are he just didn’t like it coming out like that from the writer.

Narváez Varela ended by saying, “Because your life is different, celebrate it especially for the writers who are not as visible in the edition of Black, Latinx, Native American, LGBTQIA2S+, marginalized writers if you will, there is very important to take control and tell our stories because they matter, but we have to sit down and write them down.

Katrina Villarreal is a journalist and can be contacted at [email protected]