Poetry of Experience

Grossmont College’s English Department hosted author and poet Diane Marie Delgado on Oct. 5 at Griffin Gate as a part of its Fall Reading Series season of events showcasing literature and award-winning authors.
Having written hundreds of poems in her lifetime, Delgado is venerated for her literary work which has appeared in magazines such as Ninth Letter, The New York Times Magazine and Colorado Review, among others.

Some of her other written works have been recognized, including her chapbook “Late Night Talks with Men I Think I Trust,” which won the 2018 Center for Book Arts award, and her poetry collection “Tracing the Horse,” which was a New York Times “Noteworthy Pick.”

Delgado spoke for roughly an hour at the event, reading stanzas from her own poetry collections, as well as other individual poems like “Songs of Escape,” and “Bridge Called Water,” captivating the small-but-attentive audience.

Reflecting on her personal experiences growing up in the San Gabriel Valley and the lives of the people who live there, Delgado’s poems are beautifully written and charged with emotions that hit the listener on a deeply human level.

An example of this is her work in “Tracing the Horse,” which follows the coming-of-age story of a young Mexican-American woman trying to discover her identity while struggling with a family and community in turmoil. Delgado fondly referred to this collection as a “throughline to all my work.”
While sharing some of her earliest writing, Delgado spoke on her own growth as a poet having begun her creative writing journey in community college.

“I just slowly evolved, just by making a lot of mistakes and writing a lot of bad poems,” she said of her development. “The funny thing is, you know, you’re never too old to write a bad poem.”

During the event she also answered questions from the audience, giving some insight into her own creative writing process in detailed responses. She spoke on how she personally views her work seeing it as a form of docu-poetics, a way for her to record and talk about growing up in a particular generation and the experiences that came with it.

When asked about how she continues her drive to write even now, she said, “By reading, by being in the world, by watching great films just opening yourself to different experiences.”

Delgado continued: “For anybody that wants to write, you have to read, and you have to read everything.”