Adela Najarro

An approachable and engaging poet, teacher, and speaker.

I actively participate in my community as a poet and an educator. Even though I have a jam-packed life of work, elderly parents, and teenagers in the house, one of my great pleasures is to work on projects that promote artistic endeavors and push toward social justice. I just completed a volume titled, My Childrens. This collection contains poems I have written exploring Latinx identity. What does it mean to be a bicultural bilingual person in the United States? This culturally relevant volume explores the complexity of US Latinx experience and is meant for classroom use at all levels. The collection contains poems, followed by a non-fiction comment for each poem, comprehension questions, writing prompts, and a "Look It Up" section. The book also includes notes and strategies for teaching poetry in the classroom. 

In addition, every spring semester at Cabrillo College, I teach a poetry workshop based off of June Jordan's Poetry for the People workshop. In this workshop, we explore personal voice and social justice through poetry and spoken word. I also teach 12F Introduction to Creative Writing in the fall at Cabrillo College that explores writing non-fiction, fiction, drama, and poetry.

In all workshops, the focus is on creativity and discovery of voice. Creativity and art are central to our lives, and in my workshops I support all writers as we explore how art creates a new way of knowing while having a lot of fun. In order to leave the constraints of everyday life, we play games, make collages, and dive into our subconscious kitchens where images brew in the heart. In the privacy of home or a coffee shop is where the editing process takes place, and I encourage all to discover their own creative writing processes. If you join one of my creative writing classes, you will find plenty of opportunities to generate new work while reading and thinking about the most engaged and vibrant contemporary poetry that I can find to share with you.

In 2015, three books were published: Twice Told Over, Split Geography, and Fostering Habits of Mind in Today's Students: A New Approach to Developmental Education. Twice Told Over and Split Geography are full-length poetry collections. Originally, Split Geography was a chapbook, but while working with Mouthfeel Press editor, Maria Maloney, we moved the collection into a full-length volume. The two collections represent the best of the work that I developed during the past decade or so, and I gratefully acknowledge both Unsolicited Press and Mouthfeel Press for presenting these opportunities for publication.

With Jennifer Fletcher and Hetty Yelland, we edited Fostering Habits of Mind in Today's Students: A New Approach to Developmental Education. The book combines research, memoir, and lesson exemplars, and can be used as a resource for anyone teaching first-year college students. 

About Twice Told Over,Juan Felipe HerreraPoet Laureate of the United States, comments below:

Juan Felipe Herrera writes, "For its eye of the all-seeing crocodile half in dark waters and half in the prey-light of death and hunger, for its electric rush of love, its gambles with destiny, for its deep knowledge of borderlessness, the slippage of love and dissolution into something  like Mystery makes this collection a rare magic. And perhaps, because of its woman eye, illusory skin, bleached colors and its various upside-down taboos where words and love-deeds are 'hechas para atrás / pushed aside,' I commend this book. It is a surreal mathematics, a travelogue to ancestors, a gypsy’s deck of last-breath, plotting flowers ditching toward thesun. A tour de force, magnificent, lovely, sculpted, drenched with Borges, Sexton, Najarro. A radically new Latina verse."


About Split Geography, Richard Blanco and David A. Sullivan comment below:

Richard Blanco writes, “Split Geography is a marvelous shifting between Nicaragua and the States, between the mangos and Michigan’s ice angels, between histories and national boundaries. Adela’s poems are compelling pastiches that contemplate the everyday wonders that arrive in small packages, as well as our sorrows that trumpet loudly into the future.”


David Sullivan writes, "Split Geography covers vast tracts of land and multiple countries in language that heals as it explores both internal and external rifts. Its first poem declares: 'I always like to start by stating it / straight up,' and then marries many surprising images that are anything but 'straight up,' to sudden, earth-shatteringly vulnerable revelations, such as 'Obviously the woman I used to be was a fool / or an idiot. I don't like her.' In a later poem the speaker is flabbergasted that 'My family, each of them with their screwed up lives, loved me / and loves me. And I can't get over it.' The vagaries of love, and the need to love oneself and others (in all their rich complexity) surface in poem after poem. The personality that emerges from this collection is funny, poignant, irascible, and above all, in love with the promise that writing can be a spiritual exercise to re-make ourselves. These are startling poems where 'Spirits live under rocks / and there are birds that tell you everything.' These are poems to live among."

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