Notable Quotable: Writer Erika L. Sánchez Reflects on Borders

By Paulette Beete
Headshot of a woman

Photo by Adriana Díaz

"As a child for me borders were something that were very real, tangible, physical. Because my parents immigrated in the late 1970s, when they crossed the border with the help of a coyote, it was a story that I was quite familiar with, and it was something that I heard about very, very frequently—not just their story but the stories of other people in our family and our community. So I very much understood that borders meant that certain people weren't allowed in our country, and I just felt like that was such an injustice to deny people the right to be in a place…. As I grew older, there were so many other iterations of borders in my life as a young woman of color, like what I was allowed to do, what I was not allowed to do. And so I became in many ways very defiant when it came to boundaries and borders and I continue to be, very, very rebellious when it comes to limitations. So I write about borders and their many iterations in all of my writing and I like to explore a lot of in-between places. That's another way that I like to examine borders—what does it mean to be on a border, to live in a space that isn't really one place or the other?" — Erika L. Sánchez

Poet and novelist Erika L. Sánchez received an NEA Creative Writing fellowship in 2019. She is the author of the poetry collection, Lessons on Expulsion and the YA novel, I'm Not Your Perfect Daughter, which was nominated for a 2017 National Book Award. Listen to our full conversation with her on the Art Works podcast.