Eduardo C. Corral explores linguistic borders

The Good Thunder Reading Series continues, this time featuring writer and poet Eduardo C. Corral. 

Corral visited Minnesota State Feb. 29 and held a workshop where MSU students had the opportunity to generate creative work with Corral’s guidance. The workshop was followed by a craft talk and Q&A where Corral explained his writing process. He finished the night with a reading at the Carnegie Art Center in Mankato. 

Corral discussed several themes he uses in his written works and how they reflect the lives of immigrants and Mexican Americans. 

“I often write about the borderlands, the space between Mexico and the United States in the southwest, so then Arizona, where I was born and raised, so I write about a lot of voice persona. Poems that are in my voice, border crossers, men, women and children just crossing the border back and forth,” Corral said. “Another big component of subject matter in my work is maybe familial palms; father figures and mother figures. It can be very complicated and fraught, and another thing I really kind of focused on is queerness. Like what does it mean to be queer in a Mexican-American family? What does it mean to be queer living in the borderlands?”

Corral earned degrees from Arizona State University and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He debuted his collection of poetry, “Slow Lightning,” in 2021 and won the Yale Younger Poets prize, making him the first Latino recipient of the award. 

His second collection, “Guillotine,” was released in 2020. It explores the unexpected  portrayals of contradiction, survival and human interiority through the voices of undocumented immigrants, border patrol and scorned lovers. 

Among both published collections of poems, Corral said several of his best poems hold meaningful themes many learning institutions analyze and that many audiences can try to find ways to resonate with them. 

“It’s strange because what you think is your personal best and what the audience or editors or anthologists think are your best, it doesn’t overlap. Like for the first book, I think the best poem is ‘In Colorado My Father Scoured and Stacked Dishes,’ which is a poem often anthologized from that book. With the second book, I think the best poem is a persona titled ‘Border Patrol Agent,’ he said. “But the poem that people often talk about and want to reprint is a short poem called ‘Questions for My Body,’” 

Corral has been praised for the treatment of history and meticulous exploration of sexuality he includes in his works which has earned him several honors and awards. He has also been highly praised for his harmonization of Spanish and English, a form of writing that he said does not come easy but instead comes naturally.

“If you’re asking to add Spanish, it’s probably not organically. It can work and try it out to see if it works. But it just comes with practice. At first, anytime you try something new with your writing, even your own personal life, it takes a while for it to become habitual, for you to become comfortable with it,” Corral said. 

Corral said he encourages students to be open and to explore language which can help them develop their own form of writing and as a professor himself, he is glad to mentor his students into unlocking their full potential as writers. 

“What matters is not what you write about; it’s how you use language with intention. So all writing is based on language, words, syllables. Out of that arises music. Out of that arises speaker, landscape, emotion, intellectual thinking. So just pay attention to language. How it’s used around you, how you use it. You can keep notebooks and jot things down so pay attention to language,” He said. “That’s the foundation for any kind of literature.”.”

Corral’s published books are available for purchase on Amazon and for more information, visit https://www.eduardoccorral.com/ 

Write to Anahi Zuniga at anahi.zuniga@mnsu.edu

Header Photo: ​​Author and poet Eduardo C. Corral visited MSU to discuss writing Feb. 29. Corral released his second collection of poems titled, “Guillotine,” (pictured) in 2020. (Courtesy Graywolf Press)

One thought on “Eduardo C. Corral explores linguistic borders

  • danielsebold

    I have crossed the border many times, have even swum across the Rio Grande a few times when I lived in Mission, Texas. I lived in Guadalajara, Mexico back in the eighties, the gay capital of Mexico and have spent a lot of time in Mexico City. I believe Mexico City passed gay rights legislation long before Minnesota did.

    It doesn’t make a lot of sense to say you are liberated if all you can do is say you are gay. I don’t see much gender bending when I go back to the States. Not a lot of freedom back there. It is not 1972 anymore.

    I saw no gender bending gays or trans folk on that beach in Chicago off of the Miracle Mile last summer when I was there. It looked like Lake Okabena in Worthington. There were no trans/gay folk at the pro LGBT Hi Hostel down by the Chicago Symphony building in Chicago. May as well be in Mankato sunbathing in your Bermudas at Hiniker Pond rather than hang around Lake Michigan beaches. Check out Hiniker Pond this summer. Don’t bother going to Chicago. America is all the same.

    Daniel Sebold, MSU English/Spanish alumnus in Gujarat, India


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