They say I’m a beast.
And feast on it. When all along
I thought that’s what a woman was.
from the poem “Loose Woman” by Sandra Cisneros
Recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, Sandra Cisneros is more than an award-winning author of novels, poems, and children’s literature. A teacher, artist-in-residence, and arts administration, she has long been a force for social change. She has established two foundations to encourage writers – The Macondo Foundation dedicated to raising writers social consciousness and empathy, and The Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation which supports Texan writers. She also organized the Latino MacArthur Fellows (Los MacArturos).
Her 1984 coming-of-age novel The House on Mango Street is required reading in middle and high schools across the country. In the following selection we can hear her unique voice.
Rosa Vargas’ kids are too many and too much. It’s not her fault, you know, except she is their mother and only one against so many.
They are bad those Vargases, and how can they help it with only one mother who is tired all the time buttoning and bottling and babying, and who cries every day for the man that left with out even leaving a dollar for bologna or a note explain when it would come.
The kids bend trees and bounce between cars and dangle upside down from knees and almost break like fancy museum vases you can’t replace. They think it’s funny. They are without respect for all things living, including themselves.
But after a while you get tired being worried about the kids that aren’t even yours. One day they are playing chicken on Mr. Benny’s roof. Mr. Benny says, ‘Hey ain’t you kids know better than to be swinging up there? Come down, you come down right now, and then they just split.
See. That’s what I mean. No wonder everybody gave up. Just stopped looking out when little Efren chipped his buck tooth on a parking meter and didn’t even stop Rufugia from getting her head stuck between two slats in the back gate and nobody looked up not once the day Angel Vargas learned to fly and dropped from the sky like a sugar donut, just like a shooting star, and exploded down to earth without even a “Oh.”
Finding our unique voice is one of the most difficult parts of writing.
Have you found your writing voice yet?