Poet Gary Snyder once wrote, “Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.”
Author Kali Fajardo-Anstine is bringing her Chicana female voice to the table to do exactly that: claim a Rocky Mountain heritage, keep the folklore alive and make peace with some of her past in a changing and modernizing landscape.
Fajardo-Anstine will present a “Deep Mapping” workshop and a lunch reading at the Center for the Arts this week. The workshop is a spinoff from Fajardo-Anstine’s writing process, which deals with place and heritage.
“We can know a place intimately, but we can expand the viewpoint and create a deep map of local settings,” Fajardo-Anstine said. “My forthcoming novel is heavily based in research that started with an oral history of my Chicana family history.
“But there are parallel views to that same history. I needed to find other points of view that complemented a more multifaceted view of place and history.”
Fajardo-Anstine is a fourth-generation Denverite, with a unique sense of the West.
“My characters do move around but not very far — still I am lumped into immigrant literature even though my family is indigenous,” she said. “Gentrification has happened so fast that people don’t know how to pronounce the streets as they have been pronounced for a hundred years.”
Fajardo-Anstine deala with human themes of change, identity and sense of place in her short stories and novels.
“You can experience the open space and the metro Denver area, you are experiencing both in a matter of hours. That does something to the psychological character,” she said. “I am documenting erasure before it plows through. I am accepting of change. Making art from my experience adds nuance to the story of Denver and Colorado.”
Keeping her canon of author influences close by, Fajardo-Anstine pulls on the American West landscape as some of her predecessors have.
“I don’t think I have ever developed anything on my own, books have been and are for my life,” she said. “I sold books for 15 years until recently ... Alyson Hagy’s deep South, Sandra Cisneros, Catherine Ann Porter’s clarity for portraying women, Joy Williams’ bravery of the surreal and darker story lines as well as Richard Ford’s Rock Springs working-class stories drenched in musicality.”
Fajardo-Anstine recently signed a two-book contract with Random House’s new imprint, One World, for her forthcoming collection of short stories, “Sabrina and Corina,” and debut novel, “Woman of Light.” She graduated from the University of Wyoming with an master’s of fine arts in creative writing in 2013; she studied under Hagy, novelist and UW faculty member.
Wednesday’s workshop is limited to 12 participants. Call Jackson Hole Writers for information and to RSVP for the free reading and soup.
Workshop participants will read a short story by Latina author Sandra Cisneros and continue into a discussion about William Least Heat Moon. Before the reading Fajardo-Anstine will speak to the students at Summit High School.
“I was first introduced to “House on Mango Street” in high school, but then in college I came across Cisneros’ short story ‘Woman Hollering Creek,’” she said. “The weeping woman is such a prominent feature of Chicana love — the tale is a great backdrop to a story of an immigrant caught in a domestic violence plot.” ￼