Jun 7, 2024 | Articles, Featured


Ivonne Sheen Mogollón, Sinais Latinoamérica curator, shares with us one of the texts by Gloria Anzaldúa that guided and inspired her selection.

1980 May, 26th

Dear mujeres de color, I feel heavy and tired and there is a buzz in my head – too many beers last night. But I must finish this letter. My bribe: to take myself out to pizza.

So I cut and paste and line the floor with my bits of paper. My life strewn on the floor in bits and pieces and I try to make some order out of it working against time, psyching myself up with decaffeinated coffee, trying to fill in the gaps. (…)

It’s not on paper that you create but in your innards, in the gut and out of living tissue – organic writing I call it. A poem works for me not when it say what I want it to say and not when it evokes what I want it to. It works when the subject I started out with metamorphoses alchemically into a different one, one that has been discovered, or uncovered, by the poem. It works when it surprises me, when it says something I have repressed or pretended not to know. The meaning and worth of my writing is measured by how much I put myself on the line and how much nakedness I achieve. (…)

I say mujer mágica, empty yourself. Shock yourself into new ways of perceiving the world, shock your readers into the same.

Stop the chatter inside their heads.

Your skin must be sensitive enough for the lightest kiss and thick enough to ward off the sneers. If you are going to spit in the eye of the world, make sure your back is to the wind. Write of what most links us with life, the sensation of the body, the images seen by the eye, the expansion of the psyche in tranquility: moments of high intensity, its movement, sounds, thoughts. Even though we go hungry we are not impoverished of experiences.

(…) Wishes, dreams, and fantasies are important parts of our creative lives. They are the steps a writer integrates into her craft. They are the spectrum of resources to reach the truth, the heart of things, the immediacy and the impact of human conflict.[2]

Nellie Wong

 Many have a way with words. They label themselves seers but they will not see. Many have the gift of tongue but nothing to say. Do not listen to them. Many who have words and tongue have no ear, they cannot listen and they will not hear. 

There is no need for words to fester in our minds. They germinate in the open mouth of the barefoot child in the midst of restive crowds. They wither in ivory towers and in college classrooms. 

Throw away abstraction and the academic learning, the rules, the map and compass. Feel your way without blinders. To touch more people, the personal realities and the social must be evoked – not through rhetoric but through blood and pus and sweat. 

Write with your eyes like painters, with your ears like musicians, with your feet like dancers. You are the truth sayer with quill and torch. Write with your tongues of fire. Dont let the pen banish you from yourself. Dont let the ink coagulate in your pens. Don’t let the censor snuff out the spark, nor the gags muffle your voice. Put your shit on the paper. 

We are not reconciled to the oppressors who whet their howl on our grief. We are not reconciled.

Find the muse within you. The voice that lies buried under you, dig it up. Do not fake it, try to sell it for a handclap or your name in print.



[1] Originally written for Words In Our Pockets (Bootlegger: San Francisco), The Feminist Writer’s Guild Handbook.

[2] Nellie Wong, “Flows from the Dark of Monsters and Demons: Notes on Writing,” in Radical Women Pamphlet, (San Francisco, 1979).