May 28, 2020

Chicano writer inspires local students

Award-winning author and Chicano writer Michael Jaime Becerra spoke Friday as part of the Chicano Writers and Artists Association about his journey to promote diversity in creative writing.

“I’ve known forever I wanted to be a writer,” Becerra said.

When he first started writing, Becerra pointed out that he tried to imitate the writing of authors that he read.

After taking a poetry workshop in college, Becerra wrote a poem about getting his father a beer in the middle of a football game. There, he said, was the turning point when he started writing stories and poems that “people would have never known unless he told them,” — stories that documented people’s lives.

Fresno State student and rapper Jairo Lozano said that Becerra’s style is very insightful. The non-fiction essay about Becerra’s childhood playing at an arcade particularly resonated with him.

“It was very essential. I felt the breeze in the morning, stomping the dogs away, the bikes passing along the river, the solitary experience riding the bikes and playing the machines,” Lozano said.

As a child, he said he did the same activities in a store near his house in Sanger.

Life lessons were also part of the message from Becerra’s readings. Lozano said he learned about appreciation and pride.

“It is inspiring to go to events where you can discover about the work and the life of someone successful who comes from a minority group,” Lozano said. “Hear him talk about his low points and the struggles, and exactly about where his writing came from and how it evolved. Knowing he is a real person is inspiring.”

Becerra also talked about the importance of honoring the characters and letting them tell the story, which creative writing major Mia Barraza said stood out to her.

“I really liked that he identifies himself as a Chicano writer,” she said. “It is important to me because I want to be known as a Chicana writer.”

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