October Feature: Darlene Campos

By Elizabeth Jordan

Darlene Campos was born in October 1991 to Ecuadorian immigrants. She wrote her first poem when she was 10. It was later published in the anthology A Celebration of Young Poets. Her short story “Don’t Go Back to Stoneville” was published in 2010 in The Four Cornered Universe and later reappeared in The Collegiate Scholar. Her poem titled, fittingly, “The Napkin Poem” appears in the spring 2012 issue of The Aletheia.

Currently, Darlene is an English major with a minor in Medicine and Society. She was admitted to the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program this past spring and is very excited to take her prose a step further. She is currently working on a novel titled Thunderclap of the Ridge.

While reading Darlene’s submissions for the upcoming chapbook, I was struck by her intriguing and diverse narratives. We discussed her work in a brief interview.

[Note: This interview makes reference to Darlene’s stories “Lost Angeles” and “The Bar Mitzvah of Soloman Robatzi,” both of which will appear on this site in the coming weeks. “Lost Angeles” is excerpted in the fall 2012 issue.]

In “Lost Angeles” and “The Bar Mitzvah of Solomon Robatzi,” you exercise a vast knowledge of two very different cultures. What inspired these perspectives? How has your personal background shaped these narratives, if at all?

“Lost Angeles” and “The Bar Mitzvah of Solomon Robatzki” deal with themes that are totally out of my background. I’m not Native American or Jewish. “Write what you know” is not bad advice, but I can be a rebel when it comes to writing. For a time, I did write only what I knew and I bored myself to tears. The point of writing is to be creative and to have freedom, not to be restricted to certain areas. Of course, I do extensive research before writing a multicultural work in order to avoid stereotypes and other problems. I come across people who say “Darlene, you’re from Ecuador, shouldn’t you write about being Ecuadorian?” and all I can think is “Why? I’m not just Ecuadorian. I’m a person too.” Likewise, you don’t have to be Jewish to write about Jews and you don’t have to be Ecuadorian to write about Ecuadorians. If you want to write outside of what you know, all you need is admiration for the unknown and a story idea.

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