An interview with Amanda Muñiz from The Write Stuff series:
Amanda Muñiz is a Mexican writer born in Puebla and raised in Oakland, California. She majored in English Literature from San Francisco State University. Her work has been published by Pochino press and more recently in the Translating Migration poetry anthology project. Amanda has been a featured reader in various shows in the Bay Area including the electrifying ¿Donde Esta Mi Gente? the hilarious ¿Donde Esta mi Comedy?, BEASTCrawl, Literary Speakeasy, LitQuake’s legendary LitCrawl, as well as the Carnival of Poetry organize by Writers of Singapore. The immigrant experience has inspired most of her writing, which she considers a reflection and a testament of her family’s resilience as well as a never-ending letter of love and gratitude to her parents.
What’s your biggest struggle—work or otherwise?
Consistency and drive which are usually daunted by impostor syndrome.
If someone said I want to do what you do, what advice would you have for them?
I would probably ask them what it is that they think that I do and base myself on that response. A lot of the time hesitation does not come from not knowing how or where to start but from simply needing a push in the direction we already know is the correct path.
What’s been most important to your writing: education or the real world? Why?
The real world. There is no denying that education has helped my writing but at the end of the day I wouldn’t be writing if it wasn’t for the world around me. My life experiences inspire and in many ways propel me to write in order to process feelings, ideas, and trauma.
If you could give advice to your 15-year-old self, what would it be?
Everything is ephemeral. I think when I was younger everything seemed stagnant or unending. As I have gotten older I have come to realize that nothing, neither good nor bad, is infinite. Then again how we perceive time is partly based on how long we have been alive so to my 15-year-old self, who is half my age at the time of this interview, I might seem like another condescending adult dismissing or belittling her life experiences. Instead of advice, I would much rather give words of encouragement. Actually, screw that too… I would tell her to buy bitcoin when it was .05 cents a pop.
Why do you get up every morning?
Because I have to use the bathroom because I have to go to work because something has to get done that day. I wish I could say that I wake up with a plan and a list of positive affirmations that I tell myself that I could pass on to others. The reality is that I love to sleep and I struggle to find reasons to wake up in the mornings outside of meeting my daily responsibilities or having to wake up early to do something fun. There are days when I wake up feeling cognizant of my body and feeling grateful to be alive but those days are rare and most times I wake up in a daze that follows me until about noon.
What’s wrong with society today?
Distribution of power/money, lack of funding in education, and religious fanaticism.
Where do you go to find sanctuary?
My bed, the gym, a good hiking spot, my mother’s arms, and many times within myself.
What is your fondest memory?
When I was about 6 or so my brother, cousins, and I convinced my dad to take us to the beach on a hot rainy day (Veracruz weather can be like that). He agreed to take us and told us to grab our things and get in his car. When we got to the beach we all realized that not a single one of us had brought swimsuits or towels. Instead of getting mad or frustrated, my dad told us to go into the water, clothes and all. We drove back home that night with pockets full of sand and my dad’s car smelled a bit funky for weeks after the fact.
What would you like to see happen in your lifetime?
My parents’ return home to visit their remaining living parents and to mourn the ones that they have lost while being in this country.
What is art? Is it necessary? Why?
To me, art is necessary for the sake of self-expression and as a form of therapy. What art is, well that is a subjective/objective issue.
What is the relationship between your identity and your desires? Perhaps related, perhaps not: why is sex (un)important to you?
My identity is not solely defined by my desires but my desires somewhat give my life direction.
What’s your relationship to clothes? Or: describe the shoes you’re currently wearing.
I’m trying to be more aware of where my clothes come from. I don’t care much about labels but I do look for quality and affordability. In regards to style, I like to feel comfortable and confident, and black will always be my go-to. I have an addiction when it comes to turtle necks and rompers as well as good denim. Currently, I am wearing slingback block heels with pointed toes (black suede) but most days I am walking around my house barefooted.
What are you working on right now? Or: what kind of work would you like to do?
I’m currently working on a collection of poems on the themes of love, sex, and relationships. The poems use similar if not identical lines but are told through different emotional perspectives such as shame, regret, and gratitude.
If there were one thing about the Bay Area that you would change, what would it be?
A night on the town: what does that mean to you?
Pre-Covid: Dinner, movie, a brewery/bar, or going out dancing.
Currently: Staying in and watching movies, cooking dinner or well watching my partner cook dinner, and enjoying the company of my quarantine bubble.
Have you ever seen a ghost? Or: what’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen?
Orbs of light appeared in my room about 10 feet away from me and then they simply disappeared with a pop and flash. This event happened in the middle of the night and my sister saw it too so I know I did not imagine it.
What’s the most important life lesson you’ve learned? Or: what was your last moment of awe?
We can always push ourselves a little further than we think, however that doesn’t mean we should.
What can you do with 50 words? 50 dollars?
With 50 words I could manage a couple of sentences, most of which would be crossed out, with only about one of them feeling good enough to use. With 50 dollars I could buy the dinner and wine it would take to have me sit to write the 50 words.
What are some of your favorite smells?
Firecrackers or a match burning out.
Te de Canela (tea from cinnamon sticks)
What are you unable to live without?
Food, sex, conversation, and some form of exercise both mental and physical.
If you got an all-expenses-paid life experience of your choice, what would it be?
To travel around the world. At least one country in every continent. Actually, since it’s all expenses paid, maybe one state in every country. I would miss my family after a couple of months so I probably wouldn’t be able to do one city in every state.
If you could live in your ideal society, what would your average day be like?
If I was aware that the society I am in is built to my liking I would probably be feeling guilty every day. I don’t think I would be able to make everyone happy. If I am not aware that society is built to my liking, my regular days would consist of late-night walks by myself on days I can’t sleep because I would feel safe.