Crap. Okay, fine.
I was named by my uncle in honor of my father’s French heritage and have a Mexican, not Spanish, last name. With that kind of linguistic parentage, who would have thought I’d spend the rest of my life spelling out “Michel Martín del Campo” to anyone who needed to write it. Let alone pronounce it.
I was born in Irapuato, a city in the Mexican state of Guanajuato that holds the distinction, at least in its own mind, of being the Strawberry Capital of the World. I remember growing up with carnitas, parsley, onion, Mexican Coca Cola (which is way better than American Coca Cola) and the feel of history, family, and certainty. In the summer of 1992, my family moved to Laredo, Texas, where I lived the next ten years wishing the ground would swallow me up.
I made friends, built a life, then I was off in the summer of 2002 to study at DePauw University for four years and make some of the best friends I’ve ever had. I studied with men and women who showed me what it means to be a writer, an academic, and an artist. Since then, I’ve had a whirlwind of experiences which include a brief stint as a congressional staffer in DC, high school and college teacher, waiter (who hasn’t, right?), and struggling writer.
It’s the last part that is the focus of my blog. Art is a process. I always carry a moleskin notebook in my backpack, at least three pens, and an eye for images and ear for words. How do you take the world we live in, whether it’s the Mexican border, the halls of Congress, a day with a child, looking into the eyes of the most wonderful person in the world, or just drinking with friends and write it so you capture its soul? What’s the difference between good writing and bad writing other than mechanics? I know some answers to the last one, but not enough. In short, how do you create art? For that matter, what is art? Maybe it’s the splashes of paint on a canvas that represent your existential angst. I’d like to think some of my poems speak to the spark within each of us, but I know that’s my ego kicking in. Until we develop telepathy, the written word will, I believe, be one of the purest forms of communication we can achieve. We can think about, edit, and carefully choose what goes into each word.
I hope to share some of these observations about art, whatever art may be to you, with, well, uhm… you. I hope to learn something from it without going insane. I’ve already had one, no, wait… Two. Two existential crises in my life. I don’t need a third. Or maybe a third would balance everything out. Whatever.
Pack your bags. We’re going on a trip.