Faculty Spotlight: Interview with Sheryl Luna

Faculty Spotlight: Interview with Sheryl Luna

Editors' Note: Ahead of faculty member Sheryl Luna's upcoming reading on February 22 at Tattered Cover McGregor Square to celebrate her newest collection of poems, Magnificent Errors, Lighthouse staff and faculty member Kim O'Connor asked Sheryl a few questions about her process, her source of inspiration, and more.

Thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed! I can't wait to get my hands on your book. Here are a few questions:

Tell us about your new book. Magnificent Errors is about people living on the margins of society. This includes the mentally ill, immigrants and the homeless. I want the poems to be a celebration of things and people often viewed negatively. I want it to be a celebration of those deemed incompetent or hopeless. The book is meant to be about the resiliency and beauty of those living on the margins.

How did you choose the title Magnificent Errors? I chose the title based on my own recovery and a realization that we learn from our mistakes, that being mentally ill can be a strength in the end, even though it seems an error or mistake at the time. We learn and grow sometimes from not fitting in. Also, I wanted to praise those who are in recovery, which is not a straight line towards healing. It is a zig-zag journey where we heal and relapse and then progress again.

How did participating in Lighthouse's Hard Times workshops influence your writing? I wrote a number of drafts which turned out to be poems in Lighthouse's Hard Times' workshops. I felt free and encouraged to address issues that aren't normally addressed in an academic setting. The title of the workshop says it best, people go through hard times. I found the voices in that workshop to be genuine, raw and insightful. They write from lived experience rather than mere book knowledge which I loved. A number of the poems in the collection originated in the Hard Times workshops.

In an interview with U-Notre Dame Press, you talk about your writing process and how you have long fallow periods and then you're suddenly inspired. What inspires you? I am inspired by people who have stories to tell. I am interested in those who are silenced and often misperceived. I am inspired by the beauty of nature and the triumph of people who have endured a lot.

What's coming up for you (book tour, readings, plans)? I have a number of readings coming up. I read at the Tattered Cover at McGregor Square at 6pm Tuesday February 22nd. It is an in-person event at the store. I have a virtual reading with the University of Notre Dame on March 2nd. I will also be reading at Canon Mine Coffee House sometime in the spring. I have done a pre-recorded reading for AWP for the anthology titled Poetry as Capital with the poets Mark Doty and Afaa Michael Weaver. I hope to set up some more readings. Thank you so much for interviewing me Kimberly. It is greatly appreciated.

Sheryl Luna’s Magnificent Errors received the 2020 Ernest Sandeen Poetry Prize and was published by University of Notre Dame Press in 2022. Seven (3: A Taos Press) was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. Pity the Drowned Horses (University of Notre Dame Press) received the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the National Poetry Series and the Colorado Book Award. Poems have appeared in PoetryTaos International Journal of Poetry and ArtNorthwest ReviewGeorgia Review, and Huizache. She has received fellowships from Yaddo, Ragdale, and the Anderson Center. She was the recipient of the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation Award in 2008.

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