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Jorge Argueta's Biography

Member Info

Dec 2007

My name is Jorge Argueta. I was born in El Salvador. My family owned a tiny restaurant known for its delicious food. The restaurant was located in front of a bus terminal where the drivers used to bring people from the capital, San Salvador and from all over. While eating they would tell fantastic stories. I grew up listening to them. Little did I know that later in my life, hearing these stories would influence my life as a writer.

One of my first memories of writing comes from middle school. I remember my very dear teacher, Julio Garcia, asked us one day for a piece of writing as homework. When I turned mine in, he was very impressed with both the writing and with the fact that I had turned it in so quickly, because up until then I had been known for being lazy and a really bad student. I remember Mr. Garcia going around the school sharing what I had written with the other teachers. "This boy is a writer!" he would say.

In 1980, I left El Salvador to come to the United States. San Francisco, California. I left because the political situation in my country was a disaster; even my own teacher Mr. Garcia was killed. The military government was terrorizing and killing workers, teachers, peasants and students -- anybody who opposed them and spoke out against their regime was in danger. In my neighborhood many of my close friends were killed. Afraid for my life, I left.

I landed in a city of poets where quickly I made friends with Chicano writers who introduced me to readings in coffee houses, bookstores and later, radio stations. I wrote and read poems about the situation in El Salvador. These poems started to appear in local city papers, magazines, then anthologies and later, in my first chapbooks Del Ocaso a la Alborada / From Sundown to Dawn, and La Puerta Del Diablo / The Devil's Gate, among others. These chapbooks led me to schools, where I began teaching poetry workshops.

In 2001, I published my first children's book with Children's Book Press, Una Pelicula En Mi Almohada / A Movie in My Pillow. This book was well received, and won several awards, including The America's Book Award, a national award. In 2003, I published three titles: Los Arboles Estan Colgando El Cielo / Trees are Hanging from the Sky; El Zipitio / Zipitio, (Groundwood Books, Canada), and Xochitl la nina de las Flores / Xochitl and the Flowers, (Children's Book Press). These two publishers will soon publish three more of my books: Hablando con Madre Tierra / Talking with Mother Earth, and Alfredito, (Groundwood Books). Children's Book Press will publish Luna, Lunita Lunera/ Moony Luna. Alfredto regresa volando a su casa/ Alfredito Flies Home. Grounwood Books, Canada.

I am currently working on a memoir about growing up in El Salvador. I continue writing children's books, and I love doing presentations where I have the opportunity to talk to children about my experience as a writer. I enjoy doing workshops in which I use fun and engaging exercise to awaken in a child the poetry that already nests in their heart.

Influences

My grandmother, my mother and father, our beloved Mother Earth

Upcoming Works

Cooking Poems: Sopita de Frijoles/ Bean Soup

Los Tamalitos/ The Tamalitos

Agents

Susan B. Katz

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