Q&A: Award-Winning Author Natalie Scenters-Zapico

Last Thursday, April 6, author Natalie Scenters-Zapico paid a visit to Albion College as a part of the Great Lakes College Association Poetry Reading event. In addition to reading from her Pen/Joyce Osterweil Award-winning debut poetry collection The Verging Cities, Scenters-Zapico also met with many students and faculty members. The Albion Pleiad was able catch up with Natalie prior to her reading.

Andrew Wittland: For those that are not familiar with your work, how would you describe yourself as an author?

Natalie Scenters-Zapico: I’m originally from the sister cities of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, and so Verging Cities is specifically about borders and undocumented life along the United States/Mexico border.

AW: What kind of place do you think Verging Cities has in society, given that immigration is such a hot topic in society today?

NSZ: I can’t really answer to how it’s received, but since I’m actually from the area in which it takes place, I hope it provides an alternative view to a space that I think often exists only in popular imagination.

AW: Given the heated political climate in the United States currently, do you feel as though writing poems like these serves as a tool to help better understand the overall topic of immigration?

NSZ: I do. There was an article recently that talked about why more and more people are turning to poetry at this time more than ever, and I think part of it is because poetry provides a voice that people can latch onto.

AW: Looking at your work holistically, where do you find a lot of your inspiration?

NSZ: So this collection [Verging Cities] stemmed a lot out of homesickness, and I was really interested in what it means to give into your longing. What I mean by that is there are a lot of things about El Paso-Juárez that I miss, and if I were to describe them to someone else, they would think ‘that doesn’t seem like a beautiful feature of a city,’ but I would still miss those things. The things you miss at home sometimes are even the ugly things.

AW: You’ve visited a lot of liberal arts colleges before, how important do you think this kind of education is, specifically for prospective writers?

NSZ: That’s such an interesting question, because I actually didn’t go to a small liberal arts school myself, and therefore, never had that educational experience. However, I’ve absolutely loved visiting them, and I feel as though if I had to opportunity to come to a liberal arts school, I would have. It feels like a much more intimate environment where people get a lot more one-on-one attention from professors and you can express yourself and explore who you want to be in a way that you probably can’t do at a larger school.

Photo via nataliescenterszapico.com

About Andrew Wittland 16 Articles
Andrew is a Sophomore who was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Mich. When he is not avidly writing for the Pleiad, you can find him running for the cross country and track teams, as a resident assistant in Wesley Hall, or hanging out with friends around campus. He enjoys an engaging cup of coffee, and a tasteful conversation.

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