We had the good fortune of connecting with Crisosto Apache and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Crisosto, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
My success comes from my drive to not give up. I have always been very tenacious towards my accomplishments and education. Education is always the focus behind my success as well as building a network of writers and instructors. Defining the success of my brand is still something I am trying to define because success can be defined broadly. One aspect of my brand is to publish my work and I continue to pursue that goal. Publishing offers the opportunity for others to view samples of my work as well as engage with the work. My success is where I feel I need to be at the moment.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Poetry is a huge influence in my life. As far back as I can remember poetry has been a way for me to express my feeling for whatever difficult situation I was going through. I grew up on the Mescalero Apache reservation in the southern part of New Mexico. Life on the reservation was not easy. My family consisted of two brothers, four sisters, plus my mother and stepfather. Two of the sisters lived with us for a short time. What made part of my youth hard was the family income. Both my parents did not finish high school, so they did not qualify for good-paying jobs to support the family, which was the root of many of the problems our family faced. One way I dealt with the struggle was through reading and writing. Reading and writing were ways I found to escape. The illustration was also another way I escaped. The reading and writing influenced the illustration I created which mostly focused on fantasy & sci-fi. But reading was focused on many genres ranging from fiction, poetry, and factual. I found books fascinating and spent much of my childhood in a library. Because life was difficult on the reservation, I convinced myself that the reservation would not be a place I would live. So, I found opportunities that allowed me to leave without the support of my parents. Places, where I landed, were boarding schools, and treatment facilities, in-state and out-of-state. But my education was my primary focus, no matter where I ended up. Throughout high school, there were classes I was not successful at, but I pushed through. In my senior year, I was offered a full scholarship to enter an art school the, Institute of American Indian Arts located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I jumped at the opportunity to leave the reservation. The first year of college was a new experience and one I will never forget. While in college I met some influential faculty and students. Starting as a Two-Dimensional major (focusing on illustration and painting), I later switched my major to Creative Writing. At the time I did not consider how Creative Writing would influence my career. There are many aspects of my writing I found challenging, but mostly surrounded my confidence of become a successful publishable writer. My attempts at first to submit work for publishing were not successful. The start of my writing career began with many disheartening rejections, but I kept writing. Publishing my writing stopped because the rejections were hard to take. Then, I did not know rejection was part of the process, and I had to submit work to many places that published literary work. Now, I do not take rejection so seriously. It took many years to learn and feel okay with rejection. That part of my dedication to reading and writing always remained and I am glad to have never let go. All the years of writing and reading have created current work which is now being published.
My first poetry book is called GENESIS (Lost Alphabet), published in 2018 as part of my thesis for my graduate studies. The primary idea behind the book was highly experimental and focused on the many conversations I had with my mother about my existence and her travels while I was in utero. Because the book was highly experimental, finding a publisher was difficult. It seems publishers were not interested in experimental poetry. Simultaneously, I was working on a second manuscript called Ghostword which is picked up by Gnashing Teeth Publication soon to be published later this year, 2022. Ghostword is a different approach from my last book because the influence behind the collection used the last book by a modernist Japanese writer named Akutagawa Ryunosuke called, A Fool’s Life, (1987, Eridanos Press). The writer was introduced to my professor Arthur Sze, during my first year of college back at the Institute Of Indian Arts. A carbon copy was handed out in that class of the book. Upon reading, I became enthralled with the writing. The story behind the writer and the last book is very tragic. Ryunosuke wrote the last fifty-three entries of A Fool’s Life as he committed suicide. While Ryunosuke’s book focused on the concept of “erasure”, my book focuses on the concept of “belonging”. It seems the tread or connection between each book comes from the experience in each of our lives dealing with acceptance and confidence. I am excited about the release of Ghostword.
My writing process forces me to work on simultaneous projects, mostly because I am afraid of my writing process becoming idle. Right now, I am completing the final edits for my third manuscript called isness. The poems in this collection mostly surround the Avant-Garde concept of “aboutness” and the moments the poems take place as less “meaning”. So, while I am finishing up with isness, I am beginning the process of revising and correlating the next manuscript in my working cache. My journey as a writer has been developing throughout my life. It is only in the latter part of my life I began to trust in the process I have developed as a more confident writer to keep the work going. Trust in me is a determining factor in my success. What I learn to care most about writing is placing the words on the page. By placing the words on the page, I begin to add the framework or foundation for the poem. I never ignore the opportunity a poem begins to speak to me. I will always take a moment to listen to what words are coming to me because I am only the instrument for the poem. Poetry is felt and experienced everywhere. We just have to slow ourselves down a bit from the day-to-day distractions and listen.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The pandemic has made it difficult to socialize and many food and bar places may not exist anymore. I like to be outdoors so visiting the Red Rocks Amphitheater is always a must for me. My family has come to visit us. We took them to the Mother Cabrini Shrine site, west of Denver on I-70. Another great site is the Buffalo Bill Museum and Gravesite. This place is cool because the location also provides a great view of Denver and the metro area. My family is a big Denver Broncos fan so I had to take them to the stadium which can be seen from I-25 near downtown Denver. A couple of places my family enjoyed were the Denver Art Museum, and the Denver Natural History Museum. As for eatery’s, Panzano’s downtown, The Mercantile Dining, and Provision in Denver Union Station, US Thai Café in Edgewater, Sushi Uokura in Lakewood off Colfax near Golden. These are the places I would take friends to if they are visiting me. As for libation, home works just as well for me.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shout-outs are difficult because there are so many people and moments that influence the success of my creative expression as a writer and a teacher. My journey as a writer and teacher has taken a very long time to attain and I am still attaining ways of becoming a better writer and teacher. My mother will always be at the forefront because she would always encourage me to do my best and to always find ways to be happier with my life. She would always tell me, “Son, I do not have the money to help you with what you need but I will always be here to support what you do in your life.” Sadly, my mother passed away in May of 2018, the year my book GENESIS (Lost Alphabet) was released. I quickly sent her a copy and she would call me and ask me to read parts of the book to her. Another person who had a huge in pact on my success is my first writing professor, Artur Sze. I learned more about writing and literature during the first two years of college attending the Institute of American Arts. Sze’s books continue to inspire my writing. While visiting a friend’s poetry class, Arthur was also visiting his class to talk about writing. Arthur discussed his process while writing his collection called The Ginkgo Light (Copper Canyon Press), which later inspired my poem “Of Thunderous Blood Storm” published as part of a collection curated by Billy Stratton, Ph.D., and Commonplace: A Journal of Early American Life, called “Stories of Native Presence and Survivance In Commemoration of the 151st Anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre”. Sandra Maresh Doe Ed.D. is another professor while studying at Metro State University of Denver (MSUD), who made me push (positively and necessarily) the limits of my writing and practice. Doe is also a major influence on my completing Ghostword (to be published later in 2022 by Gnashing Teeth publication). She is one of my professors who I remain in contact with to this day, and who continues to be a valuable part of my life. From here the list of writing friends becomes long. A few are James Thomas Steven (Mohawk), Allison Adele Hedge Coke, Jason Arment, Ericka Wurth, Meca’Ayo Cole, Byron Aspaas, Matt Hohner, and Abigail Chabitnoy among others. As for the literary poetic canon, a few are Charles Olson, Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, William Butler Yeats, Emily Dickinson, Dylan Thomas, William Carlos Williams, ee cummings, Pura López-Colomé, James L. White, Dan Beachy-Quick, Forrest Gander, just to name a few. Some of the organizations that generously gave my works homes are the POETRY Foundation, Twenty Bellows, ANMLY Magazine, The Loch Raven Review, Denver Quarterly, and The Rumpus Magazine among others. One final support goes out to The Offing Magazine which provides a platform for global artists and writers to showcase their work. I am glad to be part of the work The Offing provides and ask you to support the wonderful organization through donations.
Todd Andreff, Crisosto Apache