by Minister of Information JR
Kaira Espinoza is a poet from the Mission district of San Francisco who recently completed her debut book of poetry called “Poems About This Roller-Coaster Ride Called Life.” I’ve known Kaira for most of my adult life, and she has always been a passionate poet and community organizer. I’m glad to see her accomplish one of her dreams in life, which was to become a published poet. I think it is important for us to push local artists and media-makers in our community, especially the ones with a conscious message. Check out this Q&A that I did with Kaira …
M.O.I. JR: How long have you been a poet and how did you get into it?
Kaira: I wrote my first poem in the eighth grade. I was just trying to express some of the emotions I felt about the drama I was dealing with at the time, drama that is typical of most adolescents in the middle school years.
M.O.I. JR: When did you get serious about it? What made you get serious about it?
Kaira: I guess you could say I got serious about it in my early 20s, which is when I began performing my poetry at community events. Then people started inviting me to read at other community events, protests, fundraisers etc., so that motivated me to get serious about it.
M.O.I. JR: Tell us about your new book of poetry. How did you decide which poems to put into it?
Kaira: This first book of poetry is broken up into five chapters: 1) Exposing the war in the air; 2) Fires of sexuality; 3) Resisting the seeds of oppression; 4) Waves of immigration; 5) The sacred circle of life. The poems I chose to go into each chapter are the ones I felt were the strongest and most relevant to each particular chapter topic.
M.O.I. JR: Why did you decide to self-publish your own poetry book?
Kaira: Well, it’s not really self-published. PublishAmerica.com is the publishing house and they are a traditional style publishing house, meaning they don’t ask you to pay for anything. They provide the art department that designs your cover, an editor to proofread your book, and they publish your book. But it’s not like your book automatically goes up on shelves. It gets an ISBN number and is mostly available online.
M.O.I. JR: What has the response been like?
Kaira: Friends and family who have read it love it! But sales aren’t as big as I’d like because I just haven’t been promoting it like I should have been. These last couple of years since the book was released have been rough for me personally, just dealing with a lot of transitions in my life and losing my 25-year-old cousin after his courageous battle with cancer … so I haven’t been hustling the book as I had envisioned. But now that I’m getting my life back into a good groove again, I’m ready to start taking promotion of the book to the next level.
M.O.I. JR: Who are some of the poets that you look up to?
Kaira: Some of poets off the top of my head that opened my eyes to what poetry could be are Cherrie Moraga and Nikki Giovanni. Those ladies put poetry down in a style I never knew could be appreciated. And that inspired me to be creative and just flow with free verse, not having to be tied down by any specific structure like more traditional forms of poetry.
M.O.I. JR: What advice do you have for young women poets who seek to get their work published?
Kaira: Be ready to hustle your book! Think about the demographic that might be most receptive to your type of poetry and then make sure to outreach. Make sure that you read the fine print because you want to make sure you get to keep your rights to your work and that you will get a fair cut of the money that your book makes. Start submitting to local magazines because publishing houses like to see that you already have a local base.
M.O.I. JR: What is the difference between writing poetry and performing it?
Kaira: To me, there’s a huge difference. Getting words down on paper is one type of release, but speaking those words into existence is more of a rush!
M.O.I. JR: How do people get your new book?
Kaira: Publishamerica.com is probably the easiest way, although any online bookstore should carry it. Just make sure you type the title correctly – don’t forget to place a hyphen in roller-coaster: “Poems About This Roller-Coaster Ride Called Life” by Kaira Espinoza, ISBN No. 1-60836-039-3.
M.O.I. JR: How can people keep up with you online?
Kaira: I don’t really have an online page or anything, but just get the book and keep an eye and ear out for Kaira Espinoza!