Luis Alberto Urrea

Mexican-American poet

Luis Alberto Urrea (born August 20, 1955) is a Mexican American poet, novelist, and essayist.

Luis Alberto Urrea en la Feria -LAinBA - 33905818153 (cropped).jpg


  • I felt everything crashing down and I didn't know what to do. It was such a harrowing experience being with his body. I sat in a room with him all night, his body, dealing with the police. And then I had to go to the border and deal with immigration and have all of his papers…By the time I got back to San Diego, I had forgotten English. It took me a minute to get back into being an American. I had only one way to deal with it, which was writing. I had been writing since high school, and so I wrote about it…
  • I have always been amazed that it seems to come as a shock to people that Mexicans are human beings. And on a philosophical level, I always remind interviewers that “the border” has nothing to do being Mexican or not. The border is simply a metaphor for what divides and wounds us as people – and I mean that “border” between any group of people, gay-straight, black-white, Muslim-Jewish, etc…
  • "Chicano" was a bad word when I was coming up. At least that's what the elders said. The word referred to a Mexican born in the U.S., so by that definition, I'm not Chicano. I was born in Tijuana, but the Mexicans didn't see me as Mexican and the Americans didn't see me as American. I'm a man without a flag. When I started working among Chicanos as an adult, some accepted me, but some didn't. On either side [of the border] I was the "other"; I've always been the other. Later on when I had a bit of success, people on both sides were much more enthusiastic about embracing me. The word "Latino" seems meaningless to me, and "Hispanic" is just wrong. These days, I just tell people my nationality is "Writer."
  • It's very beneficial to Mexico that these workers [come to the U. S.]. It relieves a lot of social tension. It empties out the countryside of the poor and the needy. It stops revolution from happening. And it's sending back a tidal wave of money. The remittance money from the United States is the second or third largest source of income in Mexico now. I guess you could argue that we have an extremely generous foreign policy…

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