Ricardo Hernandez is the son of Mexican immigrants. A recipient of fellowships from Lambda Literary, Poets House, and The Vermont Studio Center, his work has appeared most recently in Witness, Hyperallergic, and The Offing. He’s an MFA candidate at Rutgers-Newark.
Here’s Quick Temper with Ricardo:
Why do you write?
This week, a family was swept away while trying to cross the Rio Grande in pursuit of asylum. The youngest—just ten months old—drowned, and three other people are suspected dead. I write because something like this happens everyday. We mustn’t get used to it.
Who do you hope reads your work?
I think of my friends. But if I had had to say who I’m writing for, that would be my mom. Lyrics from “Paciencia Y Fe” appeared on my Twitter feed not too long ago and I’ve been listening to the song nonstop. I recognize myself in it, I think. “Ay mamá, what do you do when your dreams come true? I’ve spent my life inheriting dreams from you.”
Where does the anger in your work come from? How does it manifest?
Without mincing words? Clinical depression. I think my anger manifests via compression at the level of the line. At the risk of endorsing binaries: my heart patterns feelings and my mind breaks them down. Lately, that’s led to a new tone in the poems, one that feels like wading waist-deep in cold mud: a measured anger, no sudden movements. (If that makes sense.)
Angry book recommendations for angry readers?
These are four books I admire for their treatment of “anger,” how their poems explore various facets and connotations of the word: ESL or You Weren’t Here by Aldrin Valdez; Natalie Eilbert’s Indictus; Indeceny by Justin Phillip Reed; and Jorie Graham’s FAST. All fantastic, all worth checking out.