Urban Poetry: Rocio Carlos

by Olivia Duenas

From: 7500 Magazine


With lavender locks as vibrant as her garden, poet Rocio Carlos welcomes me into her home. Lining the shelves are treasures like tiny canvases, musical instruments and fish statues. Entering from the front of her house, I made my way to her lush garden where she tells me how much she loves gardening. This native Los Angeleno infuses Spanish into her poetry and blends eclectic language into urban settings. Her poem, Sixth Street or some Dantean reference, which is about East L.A bridges, begins:

There are instructions:
line up east and move toward the river,
how a thing floats, how bruised feet walk,
where steam rises from the water…

Born and raised in the South/East areas of Los Angeles, Rocio now teaches at the Art Center College of Design, Otis College of Art and Design. Rocío has been reading her work all over L.A. since 1993. In 2003 she was chosen as a recipient of PEN USA’s Emerging Voices/Rosenthal fellowship. She is a graduate of the Creative Writing MFA program at Otis of College of Art and Design and continues to live and teach in Los Angeles. She is currently collaborating with Rachel Mcleod Kaminer on a year-long documentary poetry project, Attendance​.
Where was an early experience for you where you learned that language had power?
It was soon as I realized that there was more than one language, probably around the age four or five. I only spoke Spanish, not really knowing that there were other languages until that age. My parents took me to an elementary school for kindergarten. I remember being in the nurse’s office and she gave me a glass bowl of plastic rings, she then said to “chew a ring” and I was trying to be very obedient, so I put it in my mouth and started chewing it. She just looked at me as I gave it to her and then she said “I said choose a ring”. To me, English and Spanish were two halves of every language.

Tell us about your process. How do you write: Pen, paper, computer?
I prefer pen and paper. I’ve been inspired by Chiwan Choi, who wrote his entire last book on his phone in the notes app. I think there is this misconception that poets are really dogmatic and there is this sacredness to the pen and paper and yeah, that is important. I prefer writing by hand, but the book I’m writing now has been in my phone a lot. Read Rest of Article Here


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