Featured in this week’s English Honors Thesis Column is Angelica Rivera ’18, who is currently working on a collection of poems. This week, the “Concordiensis” sat down with Rivera to discuss the inspiration that drives her work and her creative pursuits after Union.
Andrea Becker: What drew you to writing an English creative thesis?
Angelica Rivera: I always thought that writing a thesis in the English discipline was a privilege. Making it a creative piece was more influenced by the fact that people assume English is just filled with boring analytical texts, when it really has a whole other world to it.
AB: What inspired you to choose poetry as your medium?
AR: I am into challenges just as much as I am into freestyling. As silly as that sounds, poetry is broken down by stanza and verse. So it is very much like a flow if you were to freestyle. The art that comes with verse, flow and lyrical meaning amazes me. Also, having it be a collection of poems ties in more with the message I am hoping my thesis will give, rather than chapters of fiction, that would make it more of a fairytale and kind of belie the deep meaning of the messages that I am expressing.
AB: How and why did you chose the topic of identity and African American culture?
AR: Growing up, I struggled with who I was since my mother is mainly white/Italian and my father is Hispanic/Latino/Costa Rican. Throughout history in America, labels have always been degrading and used as a source to identify quickly that a certain group deserves less and is less than another. When I came to Union, these issues became clearer, and with a huge influence from Professor Aslakson, the topic really fell on my lap.
AB: What issues and messages would you like to convey in your anthology?
AR: Hopefully my thesis will project the roles Americans have taken in the past on the issues of racism, identity politics and white supremacy, while also touching on the present and perhaps the future. It is early in the game, so any of this can change.
AB: Where have you found the most creative influence in your process of research and writing for your creative thesis?
AR: This is a hard one because the top two influences go hand-in-hand. I have an extreme influence coming from the music industry, more specifically the rap/hip-hop community, but elements of spoken word definitely drive the format and message home.
AB: What has the creative process been like so far? What do you love, or find challenging about it?
AR: It sucks, but it doesn’t suck, you know? Although poems are thought to be shorter than a typical story, there is a lot of molding and glossing that makes a poem a poem. That is probably the most challenging part. I can’t just write my thesis because I need to be inspired to write specific pieces, to create the meaning and emotion I really feel about these topics. And now I will sound contradictory because this factor is also why I love the process – every completed poem is insanely satisfying.
AB: Do you intend to pursue writing creatively after Union?
AR: Of course. My own writing has inspired me and to see my work become more than I originally planned it to be, is undoubtedly a humbling experience. This past June I had a poem published in the United Kingdom that talked about abandonment and confusion, and I can only hope that my words create solace or understanding to those who need it.