I'm constantly depressed by the Mexican gang members I meet in East L.A. who essentially live their lives inside five or six blocks. They are caught in some tiny ghetto of the mind that limits them to these five blocks because, they say, "I'm Mexican. I live here." And I say, "What do you mean you live here — five blocks? Your granny, your abualita, walked two thousand miles to get here. She violated borders, moved from one language to another, moved from a sixteenth-century village to a twenty-first-century city, and you live within five blocks?
I know Mr. Rodriguez is referencing the mindset of gang members, but his words also apply to many Chicano/a poets of my generation. Including myself. Lately, I've been struggling with my poems because I feel they're too safe, too limited. My poems only roam through five or six blocks. I want my poems to be like the abuelita in Rodriguez's interview: I want them to violate borders, to move from one language to another.
Sigh. Time to tear my poems down again. Time to rebuild.