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Writing identity: the art of Cherrie Moraga

Writing identity: the art of Cherrie Moraga

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"I write essays because I have a question and I can't read the answer in a book," says writer Cherrie Moraga.
"I write essays because I have a question and I can't read the answer in a book," says writer Cherrie Moraga.

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Published by: The Clayman Institute on Aug 15, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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08/15/2012

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Cherríe Moraga is an artist of multiple identities:playwright, essayist, poet; Chicana, lesbian, mother,feminist, indigenous rights activist. After many yearsof writing and over ten years serving as an artist-in-residence in the Drama Department of Stanford University, Moraga continues to explore theseidentities as a guiding source of meaning and purposein her most recent works.
Moraga’s collection of 
personal essays from the past decade,
A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness 
, was publishedthis year. Furthermore, her upcoming play
New Fire 
,both written and directed by Moraga, is scheduled topremiere at Brava Theater Center in January. According to Moraga, writing is a way of inscribing identity. This ability for words and stories tocommunicate central truths about oneself resides at the heart of her book,
A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness 
, and is epitomized in Moraga’s self 
-conscious decision to spell
Xicana 
with
an ‘x’.
 
In an artist’s salon held recently at the Clayman Institute, Moraga prefaced her reading from the
book with an
 
explanation of this creative choice: “The ‘x’ in Na
huatl, which is one of hundreds of 
indigenous tongues in Mexico, is pronounced as a kind of ‘ch’.
 
So when you write [Xicana] with the ‘x’you’re reflecting a politic that’s attached on some level to questions of indigenous identity.”
 
The ‘x’
epitomizes M
oraga’s attitude towards writing and politics.
Writing is a source of power; it enablesindividuals to take ownership of their identity.
While Moraga’s example encourages people to take creative ownership of multiple identities, Moraga
courageously admits that this is not easy or simple to do. Human consciousness changes; identitiesshift. Moraga recognizes that one of the most central aspects of her identity as an artist isuncertainty.
“I write essays because I have a question and I can’t read the answer in a book,” Moraga
said. Similarly, Moraga postulated that her fascination with theater stems from the freedom to depictcharacters as fallible individuals.
“I think that, as an author… you have to be full of mistakes,” Moraga
concluded. Mistakes are an important part of shared human identity. Mistakes, too, can be a sourceof power.In the midst of these uncertainties, Moraga finds one vital certainty in the impulse to create
 –
the need
to tell one’s own story.
Moraga described how the process of writing some of her essays was
Writing identity: the art of Cherrie Moraga
 
by Heidi Thorsen on Monday, October 17, 2011
– 
11:21am
 

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