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Alma Rosa Rivera: Building Bridges in the Poetry World Between Brown Love, Motherhood, and Politics

10:09 AM PDT on April 5, 2019

    [dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap]lma Rosa Rivera is a bespeckled, Mexican American poet, mom, and wife who says she doesn’t like to “water down” her brownness. From the hot deserts in Santa Clarita to heavy smog and neon signs in Koreatown, Alma is representing brownness in all its glory.

    “I consider myself strongly Chicana but sometimes I think we get lost in the word,” she tells me. “I’m Mexican because my parents are from Mexico.”

    Rivera’s poems and experiences paint political portraits of beauty and tragedy that Latinx individuals face when standing between the fence of many different worlds. She says, “A lot of people have this assumption that people who are brown and political are from East L.A. and we’re not all from there.”

    Before poetry and politics, Alma was raised in a Mexican, Catholic household in Santa Clarita. In 2011, she moved to Koreatown at the age of 20, where she grew into herself as an aspiring poet. Alma began performing spoken word poetry at a community space in Boyle Heights called La Conxa, and has been unstoppable ever since.

    Her work has been featured on various platforms including Mitú, Luna Magazine, Frijolera Press, and Latina Magazine, where she writes for the Marias, the lowriders, and the lonjas we fear after a good enchilada de queso.

    Love overflows on Alma’s brain when she speaks about her happy and healthy marriage. “As a writer, I think it’s not as popular to talk about healthy relationships,” she says. “I know it seems rare like almost extinct, but they are out there.

    “Someone is out there you feel really happy with, where you both genuinely want to share your lives together,” she notes. “Especially from our mothers’ generations, they sometimes set bad examples and for a lot of us. That’s a very Latino thing to go through. Now it’s up to our generation as women. There is love out there. Love exists.”

    With a new role as a wife and mother, this chapter in Alma’s life is the current driving force behind her poems. Especially when she considers the role model she wants her daughter to read about. Alma says, “On one hand I feel like who’s going to read that? On the other hand, I feel like I have to write about this because there’s not a lot of books talking about Latina motherhood in a real way. There’s so many complex feelings and it’s not all beautiful.”

    RELATED: Fall in Love with Yesika Salgado: Silver Lake’s Fat, Fly, Salvadoran Poet

    Courtesy of Alma Rosa Rivera.
    Courtesy of Alma Rosa Rivera.

    [dropcap size=big]P[/dropcap]olitics also play a huge role behind Alma’s poetry. “As a person of color everything about our lives is political, even brown love. I write poems about my daughter and I think that’s political because there’s some white racist who doesn’t want her to exist. If I write about my partner that’s political because we love each other,” she says. “Racists don’t like brown people so seeing a brown family is an image that makes them angry.”

    Nowadays Alma’s volume of content has slightly decreased, but she reminds herself of the purpose behind her mission. “In the past, I was active and produced a lot of work. People see that and think you’re always on top and really established. I want people to know, behind all that, there’s days where I doubt myself and don’t write poems,” she notes. “I have to remember, sometimes, why I’m doing this. It’s not for the likes or popularity. A lot of it for me, is to create space as a brown woman.”

    In the future, Alma plans to write a short novel centered around a Chicanx love story. Her goal is to continue talking about Latinx issues without putting her personal life on display. She says, “My dream is for people to read my book and get a good sense of what was going on in this time. I want to tell my daughter there were all these things going on, but this is what I created. I made something good.”

    Below, an original poem by Alma Rosa Rivera:

    You can listen to Alma’s audio poetry on Soundcloud. For more information visit Alma Rosa’s Instagram.

    RELATED: From a Stutter to Tonight Show: How Rudy Francisco Became a Poetry Slam Champion

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