Who are you?
I am a poet, a writer, an artist. I am a human being born into the body of woman, into the rich culture of Puerto Ricans of African Descent living in New York City, hailing from The Bronx. I’m a spiritual person and I’m committed to making a difference in this world; to be a contribution to people…to be a part of whatever movements are out there and movements to come that tip the scale in favor of all people being free and the world being a peaceful and healthy place to live for future generations.
What do you do?
I’m an artist not limited to a single medium. My creative self-expression is verbal and literary, visual and musical. I started my artistic life as a visual artist and still paint and draw. However, the dominant form of my creativity is poetry, song and music. Being free is being free. I don’t limit myself to a single art form. It’s expressed however Spirit moves me…from the page to the stage I consider myself a performance artist as much as I do a poet.
How do you do it?
I think that artists are channels. I don’t think the creative process can really be explained. The most simple answer I can offer to how I do it is being real. The question of how I do it is close cousins with the question why I do it. I write to look at myself in the mirror and be real to myself. This is the only way I see being real with others. I also have a commitment to study the craft. It’s important to study great artists. A writer reads and reads alot. Art is not created in a vacuum.
Does your work impact your community and how?
My hope is that my work inspires people. When people from all walks of life come to me and thank me for my work I know my work is universal and is impacting humanity. As far as my work impacting the Puerto Rican community, of which I am extremely proud, I’ve learned that some of my poems have gone much farther than I imagined when I penned them. At the age of 21 I wrote the poem, “Ode to the Diasporican” in which I wrote the line, “No nací en Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico nacío en mi.” Countless Puerto Ricans from all over the Diaspora relate to it and are moved by it. It has influenced artists and musicians and has even been translated into German. So, yes, I’d say my work impacts my community at levels beyond what I ever imagined and it is my deepest commitment to write and create for the rest of my life.
What inspired you to choose this medium?
There are many great poets and writers (Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay, ntozake shange, nikki giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Jayne Cortez, Last Poets, Amiri Baraka, Maya Angelou, Piri Thomas, Pedro Pietri, Sandra María Esteves, Julia de Burgos), who inspired me to write but I choose to be a poet because poets have always been the revolutionaries, the rebels, the trail blazers, the historians, the story tellers, the griots, the risk takers, the truth seekers, the lovers and the warriors who not only capture who we are as human beings but shape the future we are living into. Yeah, that’s still what I wanna be when I grow up.
Mariposa (María Teresa Fernández) is an award winning poet whose poetry has been featured on the HBO Latino series, “Habla Ya!” and the critically acclaimed HBO documentary “Americanos: Latino Life in the US”, as well as BET, Lifetime and PBS. Mariposa has performed at universities and major venues throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and abroad including Black Enterprise’s 7th Annual Women of Power Summit at The Ritz Carlton in Orlando, FL in February 2012, the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans in 2001 and The United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. Born and raised in The Bronx, Mariposa is a proud Puerto Rican of African Descent. Her work demonstrates pride in her Nuyorican roots and a deep commitment to her community. Mariposa attended New York University and earned a BA in Women’s Studies with a concentration in English Literature and a MA in Education. Mariposa is the author of Born Bronxeña: Poems on Identity, Love & Survival. She has also been published in The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature, The Afro Latin@ Reader: History and Culture in the United States, Def Poetry Jam’s Bumrush the Page, El Centro Journal, The Hostos Review, Resistance in Paradise: 100 Years of U.S. Colonialism, and Drum Voices Volume 23.