Introduction of a new read, “Thirty Talks Weird Love”

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Photo courtesy of Alessandra Narváez Varela

UTEP creative writing adjunct lecturer Alessandra Narváez Varela debuts her first novel, “Thirty Talks Weird Love.”

Alyson Rodriguez, Contributor

UTEP creative writing adjunct lecturer Alessandra Narváez Varela debuts her first novel, “Thirty Talks Weird Love.  

The novel centers on Anamaria Aragón Sosa, a girl who lives in Ciudad Juárez in 1999, during the first femicide wave. Anamaria is obsessed with making it to the honor roll of her very strict school and is also coping with her mental health. She is visited by Thirty, a woman who claims to have traveled from the future and to be Anamarias’s 30-year-old self.  

Thirty’s mission is to help her younger self to live a better, kinder life, a life of greater awareness. Narváez Varela, originally from Ciudad Juárez, graduated from UTEP in 2008 with a B.S. in Biology, a B.A in Creative Writing in 2011, and a Bilingual MFA in 2017Some of her accomplishments since,besides publishing her first novel “Thirty Talks Weird Love” with Cinco Puntos Press this past summer and recording its audio book for Listening Library, include the publishing of her chapbook “Her,” by The University of Houston in 2018. Her most recent accomplishment was being recognized by the Academy of American Poet’s poem a day 

It’s wonderful honor to be recognized by the Academy of American Poets. This was made possible by Professor Sasha Pimentel, who, as the March guest editor for the Poem-a-Day series, solicited work from UTEP alumni because she’s a passionate advocate for border poets and poets of color,” Narváez Varela said.   

According to Narváez Varela, her poem “23 Reasons Why Mexicanos Can Still Be Found in a Walmart” is a poem that only an editor and poet like Pimentel would offer such a special platform to, since she understands border dynamics and what the pain the community has been through.Varela’s inspiration to write about the August 3rd shooting was to make sense of the emotions surrounding the surrounding this ruthless attack. She also wanted to remember the 23 victims and fight for the erasure of hate crime, and to highlight the richness and uniqueness of our community in a moment when some of us may have felt fearful. The way she formatted her poem was inspired by Juan Felipe Herrera’s “187 Reasons Why Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border. 

Varela never thought she would be a writer. She was born and raised in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico and began writing stories and poems at a young age. She was also very focused on school; science and writing were her favorite subjectsVarela credits her love for reading from her mother who was also an avid reader. However, she says that being a child of an immigrant, she didn’t think she’d ever be a writer 

“I never thought being a writer equated with a “real” job. This is common among children of immigrants; we view a handful of professions as valid: medicine, law, engineering, accounting. That said, if it weren’t for my struggles with depression, I would’ve tried to be a doctor and a writer,” Varela said. “Instead, I’m a teacher and a writer, and I feel blessed by this combo! Teaching is a vocation; a dream I didn’t know I had. 

Varela is proof that borderland writers can get their work published and have an especially vivid voice among others. She leaves advice for people wanting to follow her path.  

Read, read, read until your eyes can’t take it. In the beginning, especially, read more than you write. A book, a lamplight and pencil to mark words and phrases you like, is the cheapest classroom in the world for writers,” Narváez Varela said.  

More information about Thirty Talks Weird Love can be found at cincopuntos.com. Varela’s poem 23 Reasons Why Mexicanos Can Still Be Found in a Walmart can be read at poets.org. 

Alyson Rodriguez may be reached at [email protected]; @alyson_rod1127 on Twitter.