On Motherhood and Being an Artist

31 May
Portrait of my five children standing against a fence wearing their favorite outfits and holding their favorite things.

Two wonderful poets, friends of mine, recently became mothers. In the past week both confessed on FB that they had not written in at least a year or more! That made me think a lot about motherhood, and being a woman, an artist, and how our art is affected by our roles as females and mothers.

When I became a mother I also stopped writing. It wasn’t by choice, and I had the craving to write, but for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to the page. This was in the age before Facebook (1999), so I didn’t even have a chance to write self-gratifying observational blurbs to the world like we can today. I kept a sporadic journal, but it was a surface recording of events, nothing deep. I feel so guilty sometimes for not writing creatively then, but at the same time, I give myself a pass because so much energy was put into other creative ends— albeit “non artistic.” Also, I didn’t consider myself an artist back then either, like I do now.

In 2013 I hit a wall and I no longer had the luxury NOT to write. I had to write for my own sanity. I waited 14 YEARS to write poems again. I finally had some distance between whatever was impeding my creativity, and me. When I say distance, it wasn’t more than a pinky-width, but I finally had more than just a craving to write again. Writing was the thing that brought me back to myself. 2012 & 2013 were traumatic for our family, but I rediscovered poetry, and I feel that was God’s way of lighting a path for me out of that mess.

Thinking back, though, one of my biggest regrets is that I dropped the pen for so long. I extend grace to myself, for sure, and I don’t lose sleep over this, but it jabs me every now and then. How about you, artist friends? How has motherhood/marriage or otherwise impacted your creative life. ❤

Pushcart Prize Nomination for “Knee on Dirt”

8 Feb

It’s very encouraging to be nominated for a Pushcart, but it’s a double blessing when it’s a nomination of a translation. I got word on Saturday that The Arkansas International nominated my translation of “Knee on Dirt” by Oriette D’Angelo for a Pushcart Prize. I didn’t even know that translations could be nominated, so this was a wonderful surprise for me.

My passion for translating comes from the desire to bring more exposure to important poetic voices from South America. Oriette D’Angelo is one of those essential, important voices! This Pushcart nomination provides the opportunity to shed more light on Oriette D’Angelo’s work, and for that I am incredibly grateful.

The poem “Knee on Dirt” comes from Oriette’s collection “Cardiopatías,” which I’ve translated and am in the process of finding a publisher. It derives it’s title from the directive in Spanish, “Rodilla en Tierra” which is what Chavez coerced the Venezuelans to do to show subjugation to his regime, equating submission with patriotism. Bringing the poem across from Spanish into English adds other timely dimensions to the speaker’s words and symbols.

Here’s a link to “Knee on Dirt” from The Arkansas International’s website: https://www.arkint.org/oriette-dangelo

Thank you, Arkansas International, for giving this poem a place to live, and for this meaningful honor. I’m delighted and eternally grateful.

2021 Chad Walsh Chapbook Prize Runner-Up

6 Feb

Beloit Poetry Journal shared the winner of the Chad Walsh Chapbook Prize Winner today, and it’s Katie Farris!! I was so excited to hear this wonderful news and I can’t wait to read Katie’s chapbook.

I’m grateful to have been considered in the final shortlist of chapbooks. And, congratulations on the other runners-up, finalists, and semi-finalists. It’s exciting to see some names of friends and acquaintances in that list!

Finalist x 3: Sewanee, Georgia Review, Naugatuck Review

11 Nov

It’s been a busy couple of months! In September and October I had some super encouraging news. First, my poem “Guaranda” was chosen as a finalist for Georgia Review’s Loraine Williams Prize. Here is Judge Ilya Kaminsky’s citation:

GUARANDA by Lupita Eyde-Tucker, “This poem gives a generous sense of history, of belonging, of crossing across boundaries of both time and place, with a sack cloth and ashes omein and omein, counting Sabbaths.”

Although “Guaranda” was not published by Georgia Review, it was chosen to be published in [PANK]s Jewish Diaspora Folio, so you can read that poem online here: https://pankmagazine.com/piece/guaranda/

A few weeks later I got another encouraging email, this time from the wonderful editors at Sewanee Review. One of my poems was a finalist in their 2020 Poetry Contest! I love Sewanee Review, and they were so kind with their feedback. Even though none of the finalists’ work was published, just knowing that they liked my poem that much means a lot to me.

Then, last week I got yet another encouraging email, this time from Naugatuck River Review. One of my poems was selected as a finalist for their annual narrative poetry contest, and will be published in the winter issue! I love the Naugatuck River Review, they published my very first poem back in 2017, so it’s wonderful to be included in their pages again!

I can’t wait to read all of the winning poems, congrats to all!

“Ode to the Quinceañera Dress” finalist in River Heron Poetry Prize

4 Aug

So happy to share my poem “Ode to the Quinceañera Dress,” which appears as a finalist in the 2020 River Heron Poetry Prize issue this month. Heartfelt thanks to final judge, Alina Stefanescu, for choosing this poem among the top five out of 500 entries!

Thank you to Gregory Pardlo and my workshop-mates at the 2019 Palm Beach Poetry Festival for “prescribing” this poem, and Rosebud Ben-Oni‘s Poetic Forms class @UCLA Extension for creating a positive space for it to come forth into the world!

This poem is an homage to many things, beyond the quinceañera dress itself. It’s a shout out to my high school friends, to late 1980’s pop music, and my Abuelita and her gift of sewing. My grandmother could make anything out of fabric, so ultimately it didn’t boil down to the dress itself. I could even have made a Pretty-in-Pink inspired frock, but ultimately the pageantry still would have felt off to me. I loved dresses and wanted a gown worthy of Cinderella, but I couldn’t give myself over to the rest of it.

My whole entire life I have been a non-conformist, and this poem is a witness to that. I will never conform to what people want me to think or believe or wear, and I will always make my own choices and my own decisions based on what I feel is true and right.


“Self Portrait con Valencia” on Women’s Voices for Change

31 Jul

A wonderful thing happened to me this week! Outstanding poet and writer, Amanda Moore, spent some time with my poem, “Self Portrait con Valencia” and wrote an essay about it for Women’s Voices for Change.

I’m honored and grateful and excited to share her words and insight into this poem, which is a time-travel back to when I was 14 and learning the nomenclature of chemistry. I am so grateful to Women’s Voices for Change for publishing it, I feel so seen.

With gratitude to Rosebud Ben-Oni for the impetus to write this, and to Dr. Oswaldo Holguín, renown chemistry teacher at Colegio Americano de Guayaquil. Look at what you taught me, Doctor.


“Ode to la Conquista” Honorable Mention in Margaret Reid Poetry Contest 2019

15 Apr

I entered my poem “Ode to la Conquista” in the Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest by Winning Writers and it won an Honorable Mention this month.

This poem is a sonnet, and one of the poems from my chapbook manuscript “How to Ride a Train in the Andes” which is unpublished and looking for a publisher.

Judge Soma Mei Sheng Frazier had this to say about the poem:

“Ode to la Conquista by Lupita Eyde-Tucker
This ceremonious ode, with its rich imagery, shrewd metaphor and mesmerizing anaphora, lays bare the savagery of human exploit. Like Ferrero’s opera, like colonization itself, the poem gives and takes—yielding beauty “to bet a kingdom on,” then reproaching with “brine rotting on boards / shrieks of secret spoils in island forests.”

“Ode to la Conquista” first appeared in Raleigh Review’s Spring 2020 print edition.

Galeón San Francisco (1586)

How to Ride a Train in the Andes – 2020 Sandy Crimmins National Prize in Poetry Runner Up!

23 Mar

I’m grateful to share that my poem, “How to Ride a Train in the Andes,” is a runner up in the 2020 Sandy Crimmins National Prize in Poetry! The poem has been published in the Spring 2020 issue of Philadelphia Stories.

This poem was born during NaPoWriMo in 2018, so it is very fitting that it ended up being published in April. It’s the first poem that I wrote about my grandmother, my Abuelita, who was born in Alausí, Ecuador. Although my grandmother most likely only had a sixth grade education, she was a renaissance woman. She taught herself many things, especially in the arts, including painting, how to play several instruments, knitting, crochet, and most importantly sewing. My Abuelita was a master seamstress, and 3D fabric artist. She could make anything out of cloth.

My poem “How to Ride a Train in the Andes” is an homage to the Guayaquil-Quito trans-andean railroad that my grandfather worked for, and the decisions my grandmother took to break free and a create different life for herself. While the poem sounds fantastical, it’s all based on facts. Click on the link, and take a ride with me. If this story fascinates you, as it fascinates me, you can read more about it here.

old fashioned train through an Andean valley

The G&Q train moving up the switchback called Devil’s Nose, in the Ecuadorian Andes mountains.

Año Viejo – A Poem for New Year’s Eve

31 Dec

Año Viejo

In Guayaquil, in December,
the old year is a dying man,
face painted on a paper-mâché head,

dressed in yesterday’s clothes,
stuffed with newsprint emblazoned
with headlines from the past year.

His widows— we cry for him on the corners
taking up a collection for his funeral.
We spend it on fireworks

to stuff down his shirt
so he burns bright when we light
him on fire, minutes before midnight.

But first, his last will and testament is read
bequeathing blessings for the year ahead.
His final countdown explodes

in the middle of every street
and the city is a battlefield, ablaze,
the new year brought forth through the haze.

Our eyes full of smoke
we raise a champagne toast: we embrace
in silence and watch our old man burn.

by Lupita Eyde-Tucker.

“Año Viejo” was first published in Naugatuck River Review, Issue 18, Fall 2017, and was nominated for a  Pushcart Prize.

Etienne Le Cocq [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Translation: Question of Lust

3 Nov

I’m happy to share that another one of my translations of Oriette D’Angelo’s poems from her book “Cardiopatías” has been published!

The poem “Question of Lust” is now live on the Columbia Journal Online.

Screenshot of Oriette D'Angelo's poem on the Columbia Journal website

To read the poem, click on the image.


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