Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

This week Brooke and Grant tap into urgency in writing—when we write for survival, write to document our lived experience, write like we’re running out of time. Guest Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, author of Children of the Land, speaks to how #ownvoices contributed to the success of his memoir to the experience of surveillance and interrogation and how that shows up in his writing as a result of lived experience.


Marcelo Hernandez Castillo is a poet, essayist, translator, and immigration advocate. He is the author of the collection Cenzontle, which won the 2017 A. Poulin Jr. prize, and the chapbook Dulce. His most recent book is the memoir, Children of the Land. His work has appeared or been featured in The New York Times, PBS Newshour, People Magazine en Español, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. He teaches in the Low-Res MFA program at Ashland University.

Takeaway: Write with Urgency

It’s true that it’s not always easy to tap into urgency, but there are things that help. You can listen to songs that evoke strong emotions, especially songs of loss or the passing of time. Writing with urgency means not holding back. It requires you to mine the emotional depths, and to try to set to the side who’s going to read your work. What would you put on the page if you knew you only had 48 hours to live? What would you say? How would you convey it? See what happens if you try to write like you’re running out of time.

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