Interview with Javier Zamora

Javier ZamoraBrooklyn, NY

Tell us a little about yourself.

Javier Zamora

Javier Zamora

I dislike my first name and I won't tell you what it is. I prefer my middle name, Javier. I will tell you I'm a Salvadoran immigrant. I will make you remember that we are the fifth largest immigrant group in this country. And that we were close to nonexistent in this nation before this government funded our civil war in the 1980s. 

How did you begin writing poetry?

I began writing poetry my senior year of high school when a poet, Rebecca Foust, visited my classroom and taught Neruda's poems. Veinte Poemas de Amor y Una Canción Desesperada was the first book of poems I ever read (I was a bad student). What intrigued me was that this translation kept the original poems in Spanish. Perhaps this was the reason my first poem was a mixture of Spanish and English. Also, Foust told the class that Neruda was only a few years older than us, 19, when he published the highest-selling book of poems in the world. This amazing fact liberated my pen. 

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Tell us about “This Was the Field,” the poem that was selected for Best New Poets 2013.

"This Was the Field" is a story my father told me about growing up during the civil war. It is his poem. Not mine. It is his voice. Not mine. It is my hometown's. 

What question do you wish I'd asked?

Where I was born, you ask? I was proudly born in a small fishing town in the middle of the Salvadoran coast called La Herradura. But oddly enough, I was a spoiled (or confused) child that refused to eat seafood. I greatly regret not tasting the cócteles de concha my town is nationally famous for. I wish to obtain a Green Card for the sole purpose of traveling back to my hometown to eat as many cócteles de concha and drink as many 32 oz. Regias as I can. 


 Order Javier’s chapbook, Nine Immigrant Years.  Read "This Was The Field" and 49 other poems selected by Brenda Shaughnessy by pre-ordering Best New Poets 2013.