Writers’ Workshop alum Sandra Cisneros returns to Iowa City


Sandra Cisneros makes a return to the Iowa City area. She will read selections from her writing and answer questions.

By Salma Rios

Sandra Cisneros held a reading Monday night in Macbride Auditorium, and she will join Jorge Guerra at 5 p.m. Tuesday for another discussion with the Iowa City community.

“On Sept. 12 at 5 p.m. in C20 Pomerantz Center, there will be a Q&A session with Cisneros, which I will moderate,” said Guerra, a UI adjunct assistant professor of Latina/o Studies, as well as one of the coordinators for the event.

Cisneros is an alumna of the Writers’ Workshop, with an M.F.A. in creative writing. She has accomplished many things in her career as a writer including NEA fellowships in prose and poetry, the Texas Medal of the Arts, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, as well as numerous awards for her books. Cisneros also has founded several foundations, including the Macondo and Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation.

Cisneros’ time in the Writers’ Workshop has also affected the structure of the workshop as a whole. She was one of the first pioneers to help develop programs aimed at disadvantaged students, which brought diversity into the program.

However, her time there was not all rainbows and sunshine; she faced many difficulties during her education that would test her. While in the Workshop, she contended that she hated it and that it taught her what kind of writer she did not want to be.

“As a Mexican American-American woman from an urban working-class background, she felt alienated and marginalized,” said Loren Glass, a UI English professor. “Furthermore, she wanted to write work that combined poetry and prose, a poor fit for the Workshop’s ‘two-track’ system.”

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But while Cisneros had a rough time at the Workshop, she went on to write the critically acclaimed book The House on Mango Street, as well as many other successful novels.

“We will be talking about Sandra’s thoughts on Latino/a life and education, as our main audience will be Latino high-school students from the Iowa City area,” Guerra said. “But our event is open for anyone to attend.”

In Ariana Ruiz’s eyes, both the reading and the Q&A will be great opportunities for members of the Latino community to learn more about the culture that constantly surrounds them.

“I think everyone should go to this reading, because she is an important figure in the Latino arts,” said Ruiz, an assistant professor of Spanish/Portuguese. “I think she is an inspiration for people, and it’ll be interesting to see people engage with her.”

The reading itself was a wonderful event. The atmosphere was very relaxed, with Cisneros cracking a joke every now and then to get the audience laughing.

She was animated throughout the reading, changing her voice to fit the character she was reading at the time. Peering through the lenses of her turquoise reading glasses, Cisneros made a connection with the members of the audience, leaving them enthralled.

One thing that stuck out in particular was a quote about writing, “Siempre sale bonito.”

It always turns out beautiful.

Sandra Cisneros, Conversations and Q&A

When: 5 pm. Sept. 12

Where: C20 Pomerantz Center

Admission: Free

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