Author Melinda Palacio Says It's More Important to Tell a Compelling Story Than Adhere to Themes
Escritora Melinda Palacio is renowned and known best for her chapbook "Folsom Lockdown," her full-length poetry book "How Fire Is a Story, Waiting," and her novel, "Ocotillo Dreams." Those works, in addition to contributions to journals and anthologies, have proven her creative prowess and asserted her as a key player in American & American Latino literature.
Palacio grew up in a Mexican-American household, where her grandmother plied her with stories from both sides of the border. Her abuela, a woman who lost much of her wealth and agency when her father died, was forced to move to Mexico by her mother's brother. Fortunately for Palacio's grandmother, life in Mexico proved to be comfortable. And many years later, when Palacio was born in Los Angeles, her grandmother was able to provide an understanding of life in the U.S. and Mexico. Palacio was raised with American and Mexican familiarity and family.
"Ocotillo Dreams" and selections from "How Fire Is a Story, Waiting" offer stories of immigration, strong women and Palacio's origins in South Central Los Angeles. Within those works, Palacio presents evidence that she celebrates her identity as a Latina, and yet she's more interested in telling a good story or writing a compelling poem than looking for trends in writing.
"I celebrate the fact that I am a Latina author. I especially feel proud when students thank me for daring to tell their stories. I'm always pleasantly surprised when students identify so strongly with my work that they think I'm writing about them," Palacio told Latin Post.
"I often return to the works of Luis J. Rodriguez or Luis Alberto Urrea. Both authors write in multiple genres and infuse their fiction with poetry and their poetry with story. Their non-fiction is both harsh and inspirational, and rings true," Palacio continued, naming authors who write for the purpose of sharing enthralling stories rather than themes.
Aside from literature, Palacio recalled learning Mexican folk dances while she was in school for Hispanic Heritage Month, which she believes should be reinstated and included in every students' curriculum. According to Palacio, folklorico dance is "a beautiful way to learn about all cultures."