CSUSM Alum Inspires Future Writers


Karla Cordero, a CSUSM alum in literature and writing, was warmly welcomed back to campus as a guest speaker for the Community & World Literary Series (CWLS) on Oct. 24. 


Cordero is a Chicana poet, educator and ARTtivist. She has received numerous recognitions in the literary world including a 2019 San Diego Book Award and a finalist spot for the 2019 International Book Awards for her full-length collection of poems, How To Pull Apart The Earth.


Cordero passionately spoke about the importance of writing and education as she shared stories, poetry and experiences from her life as a student, a teacher, a writer and an activist for social justice. 


Cordero hails from the Chichimeca people of Mexico but grew up in Calexico, CA, a town along the U.S.-Mexico border. Through her poetry, she beautifully describes her upbringing and childhood memories within clever wordplay and uses writing as a platform to teach others about her culture and heritage. 


After she graduated from CSUSM in literature and writing studies, Cordero received her MFA in Creative Writing at San Diego State University. She uses her voice to inspire the next generation of writers as she currently teaches Creative Writing and English at MiraCosta College and San Diego City College. 


Throughout the night, Karla Cordero shared many stories, poetry and advice to a room full of literary scholars and prospective writers. She captured the audience’s attention with her engaging, oftentimes comical, poetry and gave honest advice to students who want to become writers or artists, such as how to combat writer’s block or shyness at public readings. Cordero emphasized the importance of knowing who you are and how you fit in the world  


“In order for me to archive the world in poems, I need to make sure I know where I fit in the world,” she said. “And if I know how I fit in the world then I understand where my perspectives or observations or interpretations are coming from. They’re coming from the experience of this body, this history, these ancestors and I feel more grounded knowing my history.” 


Cordero also acknowledged the tremendous support she received from the Literature and Writing Department during her undergraduate years at CSUSM. As a way to give back to the community, she encouraged students to reach out to her so that she can help support them in any way she can. 


Cordero closed the evening with one final message. She said, “My advice would be that it’s hard to be an artist by yourself. Your artistry has to live with familia, with the family. That is a reader of your work, that is a supporter of your work, that pushes you and calls you on Sunday at 9 p.m. to Skype about the new poem for your work… Have a community of writers who support you.” 


To learn more about Cordero’s work, visit her website at karlacordero.com. For upcoming events in the Community & World Lecture Series, visit csusm.edu/ltwr/news/cwls.html.