July 11, 2023
The University of Arizona’s Nancy Montoya interviewed Cynthia Guardado about her poetry collection, Cenizas, during the 2023 Tucson Festival of Books. The UA’s Digital Futures Bilingual Studio hosted the interview, and the video is available here.
Guardado talks about her poetry influenced by her family, violence and civil war in El Salvador, and shared grief through migration. Asked about the home that exists in her heart, she says “Home is the cobbled stone and dirt road that arrives at my Mama Chila’s house, my grandmother’s house,” in El Salvador.
Cenizas offers an arresting portrait of a Salvadoran family whose lives have been shaped by the upheavals of global politics. The speaker of these poems—the daughter of Salvadoran immigrants—questions the meaning of homeland as she navigates life in the United States while remaining tethered to El Salvador by the long shadows cast by personal and public history. Cynthia Guardado’s poems give voice to the grief of family trauma, while capturing moments of beauty and tenderness. Maternal figures preside over the verses, guiding the speaker as she searches the ashes of history to tell her family’s story. The spare, narrative style of the poems are filled with depth as the family’s layers come to light.