"Being a poet is like being a window. With colors, pieces of light and shadow flowing through it from both sides. It is ever-changing, collecting reflections of light and space. I cannot afford to be a fragile window."
Bio: De Donde Soy
Born in Mexico City, Natalia grew up in a Texas where her mother taught her Spanish and Bert and Ernie gave her lessons in English.
Her work captures the voices and lives of women who emerge despite everything that works tirelessly against them.
Natalia has won several awards for her poetry and fiction including the 2004 Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Award, the 2008 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize and the 2012 Literary Award from the Artist Foundation of San Antonio.
Her first novel in progress, Drinking the Bee Water, is a testimony of an immigrant mother's journey to make a life as a servant in the U.S while separated from her daughter.
Natalia became a naturalized U.S. citizen at the age of fifteen after living in San Antonio, Texas since she was four. She graduated with a BA in English when she was 21 from The University of Texas at San Antonio. Two years later, she received her Masters of Arts in English from the same university. After a almost two decades of teaching, she went back to school to study fiction writing. She graduated the University of Nebraska’s MFA program in Creative Writing in 2010. Her jobs have included teacher, stay-at home mom, a single mom, small business owner/book-keeper, and now, assistant professor of English at Northwest Vista College where she works with students of all levels.
Natalia's fiction appears in Mirrors Beneath the Earth (Curbstone Press), The Platte Valley Review, and her non-fiction appears in in Wising Up Anthologies, Complex Allegiances and Shifting Balance Sheets: Women’s Stories of Naturalized Citizens. Her first book of poetry, Lavando La Dirty Laundry, is available from Mongrel Empire Press and most online bookstores.
Natalia's poems appear in several publications including Bordersenses, Borderlands Texas Poetry Review, The Houston Literary Review, Sugar House Review, Sliver of Stone, burntdistric, Voices de la Luna, and North Texas State’s, Inheritance of Light.
A member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop, Natalia has been working to increase young adult literacy since 1992 in her teaching career and through programs sponsored by the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, Gemini Ink, and the Bexar County Juvenile Detention Center.
Mutualism describes the symbiotic relationships between different species, such as our human relationship with generous flora around us as well as the relationship between the orange and white striped clown fish with the iridescent fingers of its companion sea anemone, both protecting the other from natural predators, sustaining each other, being interdependent opposites within a whole.
Mutualism describes the relationship between my writing and my life.
As a poet and fiction writer, I aim to reshape my experiences and impressions into simple messages that capture the complexity and beauty of a moment lived in ordinary life. When we can see the beauty in our lives, we put aside natural predators like shame, self-loathing, and silence. Art is my sea anemone, protecting me, and allowing me to survive in this world we've got for now.
I use simple language to form the widest bridge possible between me and my reader about immigration, silence, oppression, failed or failing relationships, illness, love, and motherhood. As I write about these topics, I learn more about them. I learn what I need to know to live through them.
As a teacher, I keep in mind under-served youth who are not reading. I want to give them language about survival and about the celebration of their own mysterious lives. I hope my poems, essays, and the novel I am working on will help readers vividly access their own quiet impressions, their own miraculous heritage, the paradoxical beauty that surrounds them, and the poetry in their language and in their lives. That is my purpose.
While literary arts sometimes may help us forget negative realities that shape us, they also help us imagine how we can re-shape our world for others.
2012 Artists Foundation of San Antonio Literary Prize
2008 Dorothy Sargant Rosenberg Poetry Prize
2004 Alfredo Moral de Cisneros Award
2004 COLFAH Award from UTSA
2004 Wendy Barker Creative Writing Award
Inheritance of Light (University of North Texas Press): “Zapatos Blancos,” "Monterrey Complete"
Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review: “Cooling Near the Center”
BorderSenses: "Sometimes In Order to Travel"
Octavo, The Poetry Quarterly for the Alsop Review: “Sacred Heart,” “Mexican Bride,” “Penelope Yes,” and “Bodies of Knowledge”
Voices de la Luna Online Poetry Journal: “Evening Apology,” “It Was the Chef Who Finally Explained”
Houston Literary Review: “Música Caprichosa: For My Mother Who Wanted to Play,” “The Function of Swelling in Pregnancy”
burntdistrict: “Graft Draft”
Mirrors Beneath the Earth: Short Fiction by Chicano Writers, Curbstone Press. "Cardinal Red"
Shifting Balance Sheets: Women’s Stories of Naturalized Citizens, Wising Up Press, "The Naturalization."
Complex Allegiances, Wising Up Press, "And Crown Our Good."