Artist Statement

“… every poem breaks a silence that had to be overcome …”
—Adrienne Rich

Lupita Eyde-Tucker

October 2018

I write from a place in my past that wants to be heard in the present and future. I grew up in both the United States and Ecuador, belonging to at least two different cultures spanning two continents, therefore the weight of culture on identity is a theme that I am compelled to explore. I am continually fascinated by the struggle between perception and reality, and the use of language to blur those lines. In my poetry, I use my past experiences as a springboard: as a child, I was treated as “other” in my own country, the United States, and was treated as “other” as a teenager and young adult in my adopted country, Ecuador. Many poems come from that, and other positions of duality in my life.

Jane Hirschfield says, “If a poem holds only what we already understand and are comfortable with, we wouldn’t need the poem.” For me, writing poems is an act of translation, crossing over from one state of mind to another— finding threads that run through my experiences and perceptions— and coming up with new understandings.

My favorite thing to do is to play with words, and poetry gives me that opportunity. I enjoy the challenge of using forms, and I dabble in classic poetic forms as well as hybrid forms. I also love playing with the blank space on the page, shaping, breaking it up, and using it to create poems that can be read like a music score. Space, breath, silence, and language are essential to me, and on a good day, I have implemented all of these things in a poem.

Translation is an important component of my art. I have been a translator since I could speak, growing up in a bilingual household. My entire existence has been, and continues to be, a constant back-and-forth translation of all sorts of things, not just language. Cultures, ideals, expectations, phrases, dichos, music, dance, and body language are all things I translate on the daily. This skill of looking at things in two different ways is what fuels my fascination with perceptions of reality.

When I was a teenager, in school I was exposed to the poetry of Pablo Neruda, Adolfo Becquer, Mario Benedetti, Gabriela Mistral, Federico Garcia Lorca, Miguel de Unamuno, and others. This exposure to poetic language in my second language unlocked something inside me and formed the genesis of my life as a poet. It made me sensitive to language as a conduit of deep truth, the kind of truth that resonates not just in your mind, but throughout your entire body.

Exploring the meanings of words in English, and expanding upon them, is a vital part of my work. Although Spanish isn’t my first language, it’s my secret code. Spanish is also a natural part of my poetic language because it’s the language of my mother’s side of the family, representing something that I cherish and honor— a deep well of meaning that stimulates my imagination, and when it appears in my work it brings my family’s past into the present. But most importantly, when I engage with Spanish I am able to access the doorway to my creative self.

As a young woman, coming of age in the 1990s, I was discouraged to explore the arts. The young women of my generation were pushed towards careers, but art was not presented as a viable career. Also, I was never encouraged to consider writing as art, so therefore I never saw myself as an artist. Eventually, I realized in my 40s that I AM an artist and now dedicate the necessary time and energy to grow into this work. I’ve spent the past decade writing poems, reading poems, listening to poets, learning from poets, translating poems, and now teaching poetry. I am just getting started!

—Lupita Eyde-Tucker

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