1 minute read

Sandra Cisneros: 1954—: Writer

Found Her Voice In Her Past


Cisneros graduated from Loyola in 1976 and was accepted into the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop. At first she felt out of place. "What did I, Sandra Cisneros, know? What could I know? My classmates were from the best schools in the country. They had been bred as fine hothouse flowers. I was a yellow weed among the city's cracks," she recalled to Publishers Weekly. In an effort to fit in, she mimicked the writing of famous male authors, her professors, and even fellow students. Cisneros finally found her place during a class discussion of the home as a metaphor for writing. As her well bred classmates talked of long hallways and homey kitchens, she realized that she had no such home in her memory. It was this realization that finally let Cisneros break free. "It was not until this moment when I separated myself, when I considered myself truly distinct, that my writing acquired a voice," she told Publishers Weekly. "That's when I decided I would write about something my classmates couldn't write about."


The themes of her childhood—poverty, cultural difference, uprootedness, and male dominance over women's lives—became her topics. "If I were asked what it is I write about, I would have to say I write about those ghosts inside that haunt me, that will not let me sleep, of that which even memory does not like to mention," she later wrote in "Ghosts." The little red bungalow she was so ashamed of as a child became the house on Mango Street. People she knew, had laughed at, and feared populated her stories. Her characters were Hispanic-Americans isolated from mainstream America by more than just a hyphen. Peppered with vivid, sensory imagery and Spanish turns of phrase, her work straddled the line between poetry and prose. Cisneros had created a beautiful language with which to share her stories.

After earning her master's degreein 1978, Cisneros returned to Chicago to teach at the Latino Youth Alternative High School for school dropouts. Though her job was demanding she continued to pursue her writing. She began to submit her poems to literary journals and found some success. Locally, she became a regular on the spoken word circuit, performing her work at bars and coffee shops. Her fame spread further when one of her poems was chosen to grace the buses of the Chicago public transport system.


Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Ciara Biography - Wrote Out Goals to Elizabeth David (1913–1992) BiographySandra Cisneros: 1954—: Writer Biography - Escaped Shame Through Books, Found Her Voice In Her Past, Earned Literary Acclaim And Fame