Salvadoran Yesika Salgado is a self-proclaimed “Fat Fly Brown Poet” based in Los Angeles who just released her second collection. “Tesoro” which follows in the heels of the success of her 2017 debut “Corazón”.
Salgado was a member of Da Poetry Lounge in LA, which touts itself as the country’s largest weekly open mic, and she is a co-founder of Chingona Fire, a feminist poetry collective with best friend Angela Aguirre. Her journey to the top of Amazon’s bestsellers list for Hispanic Poetry started out on Instagram where she posted her work and has since then developed an organic following that’s now grown to more than 50K followers. Her poetry is sprinkled throughout her feed but followers will also find screenshots where she exposes the harassers she encounters on dating sites. This characteristic vulnerability and honesty about love is what she’s become known and loved for and a key part of both books. “Tesoro”, which translates to “treasure”, is broken up into five sections with poems that touch on nostalgia, food, family, and even phone sex.
In her latest interview with FIERCE, Salgado spoke about the making of “Tesoro” and what she hopes her fans will get out of it.
Q: What was the inspiration behind “Tesoro”?
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tonight I get to share my second born with you. this book was a stubborn child. I pushed and pushed and it took its time. It wasn’t going to be like it’s sibling. this book was a challenge. if I was going to write about survival, I was going to have to survive IT first. tonight I get to celebrate my victory with you. I cannot wait.
A: The women in my family. The older I have gotten the more I have understood their impatience, their anger, their fierce fight. The men in my family, like in many families, take and take. I wanted to write about the women who survived all that taking.
Q: “Corazón” dealt with heartbreak, love and healing, what are the main themes in this collection?
A: Both books carry a lot of the same themes but from different lenses. “Corazón” poses the question “Am I worthy of love?” and “Tesoro” asks “How do we survive those we have loved”?
Q: What do you want readers to take away from Tesoro?
A: I have learned that my readers will take what they want and end up teaching me what the book really is about. I am excited to hear how each person interpreted [it] and to rediscover this story into womanhood through them.
Q: Your debut collection was such a success and really resonated with people, do you feel the pressure of achieving the same level of success with “Tesoro”?
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????❤️Happy Birthday Corazón❤️???? my sweet baby turns a year old today. this little book that could. this book that is my messy heart. this book changed my life. I meet so many people who have connected with its love story and in turn share with me their own. I have cried with other broken hearts while reading from Corazón in venues throughout the country. I have signed thousands of copies and slid my heart back to the person taking it home. This book saved me. I wrote it a month after being hospitalized for a severe infection that changed my body and right leg forever. When I released Corazón I didn’t know I was pregnant. I found out days later. I didn’t know what I was going to do. Then, a couple of weeks after that I miscarried. If I hadn’t had this book I don’t know how far the depression would have taken me. Thank goodness that’s a question I don’t have to answer. Corazón healed herself y’all. Thank you my mango babies for letting me live my dream. Please share with me what Corazón means to you. I want to hear about your hearts. (Thank you @notacult.media for taking on this beautiful journey with me. Part 2 begins in a couple of weeks!).
A: Absolutely. When I finished writing “Tesoro”, [I] was very sad. I hoped that it wouldn’t be outshined by its sister. “Tesoro” is dense and difficult. It asks hard questions and doesn’t necessarily answer them the way “Corazón” answered its own questions. I had to be okay with that. I have to trust that “Tesoro” will have its own success for its own reasons.
Q: Can you explain the significance of the cover art?
A: The cover art to “Tesoro” is a lemon tree. My home has two trees in its front yard. Our lives revolve around those dusty branches. They have been the backdrop to all our family parties and carne asadas, When my parents refused to buy us a Christmas tree my sisters and I strung lights around them. Our father would send us outside to pick a lemon for his drink or dinner. “Corazón” forever tied the imagery of mangoes to my writing, I needed to add some lemon to the fruit. This way, both El Salvador and Los Angeles are represented. The artist Cassidy Trier didn’t know any of this for either book. She designed both covers after reading my manuscripts. Home always finds you, I guess.
Q: Do you have a poem in this collection that’s your favorite?
A: Today my favorite poem is “Las Locas”. It lists all the women in my family and how they have rebelled from what is considered good behavior for women. Everyone comes from a family of locas. I find that to be magical and beautiful.
Q: What was the most challenging part of writing this book? The most rewarding?
A: Let me tell you, “Tesoro” was stubborn. I had all these poems and I had no idea what they were trying to do. I didn’t know what the story was. I kept trying to shape it and it just didn’t feel right. I had to surrender. I had to humble myself. Sure, I’ve written a book before. I hadn’t written THIS book. I think that was the most rewarding part of it too. There are still new parts of myself to discover and wrestle with. That is exciting.
Q: “Corazón” was released in October of last year, what made you want to release another book soon after your debut?
A: “Tesoro” began tugging at me a couple of months later. It wasn’t going to wait. I’ve actually begun working on my third book and hope to welcome it home in a year or so. I think after the third book, I am gonna take a break and go chill on a beach somewhere for a while.
Q: You have such a devoted following thanks in part to your raw honesty and vulnerability, how has that connection with readers helped you in your journey?
A: Oh, my sweet Mangoes! my readers are amazing. I don’t always understand how much folks connect with my work until we run into each other somewhere and I am holding a stranger while they weep in my arms. They make me feel understood. it’s like, I am in a house of mirrors and each reflection is crystal clear. We’re all trying to make sense of life and all its obstacles together. I spent a large part of my life feeling alone or too strange to be loved. I write about that and folks say “I feel the same way” and the world feels less dark. I am very grateful for that.