In honor of National Poetry Month, the Department of Language and Literature invited Rebecca Balcarcel to campus Wednesday. A nationally recognized poet, Balcarcel had open readings of her poetry and discussed her writing techniques.
Rebecca Balcarcel is an associate professor of English at Tarrant County College, Fort Worth. She primarily teaches creative writing and is also a well-known poet. Her work has appeared in more than 40 journals and has been awarded the Jane Kenyon Poetry Prize from the Bennington Writing Seminar. Balcarcel is currently working on her second book. Her first book is entitled, “Palabras in Each Fist.”
Born in the States to a Guatemalan father and Caucasian mother, Balcarcel lived in northwest Iowa and moved to Texas when she was 10 years old.
“My parents moved to the States in 1968,” Balcarcel said after she read her poem entitled, “Guatamala” which describes her dual-culture life. “They met and feel in love when my mother was in the Peace Corp in Guatamala.”
Balcarcel said she wants her visit to ACU to allow students to discover and do the things they love.
“It doesn’t have to be poetry,” she said. “But I hope they will learn to appreciate poetry and learn that poems are not scary.”
As a professor Balcarcel assigns her students to design a tattoo for a literary character. She also edits for the AmarilloBay.org, an online journal, and said she encourages people to send in their writings. She has skydived, biked 1,300 miles while pregnant, camped out for a whole summer, travelled all over the States and is the mother of three boys, two of which are identical twins.
Albert Haley, professor of English and Writer in Residence, coordinates and searches for potential writers to bring to campus. He said Balcarcel uses her identity as an inspiration for her writing.
“Her poems are infused with grace,” he said. “They are not religious poems because they don’t address God directly, but you feel like there is a compassionate view of humanity.”
Balcarcel is known for writing poetry that contains English and Spanish words. She said writing in both languages allows her to feel connected to her heritage.
“It’s kind of my thing,” she said.
“Her poems are really understandable, and not saying it’s simplistic,” Haley said. “She has this wonderful ear for language. For a lot of poems, she peppers Spanish words or phrases in them which creates authenticity and doesn’t confuse the reader or listener about what it means.”
English majors had the opportunity to sit in a workshop with Balcarcel, focusing on how to write poetry. Students and faculty who attended the noon event were given exercises about styles of poetry writing.
“I love the sound of writing being done,” Balcarcel said.
She also met with Sigma Delta Pi Spanish Honor Society students to discuss poem translations. After a dinner with graduate creative writing students, the poet had a poetry reading in the CORE classroom and was open to the public to attend.
During the Q-and-A sessions, students asked Balcarcel what advice she could give them on how to write poetry. She said, “Read a lot. Steal all the techniques from great poets. Without meeting them, you can apprentice yourself to them.”
Balcarcel said she is thankful for the opportunity to come to ACU and would love to be welcomed again.