Corona del Mar’s Kinsale Hueston is a 2017 National Student Poet and one of Time magazine’s “34 People Changing the Way We See the World.”
What drew you to poetry?
Growing up, my parents would always tell us to find something we are passionate about and put our blood, sweat, and tears into it. I could never figure out my passion and began to believe I didn’t have one until I started writing.
How does your cultural identity inspire you?
It’s something I think about every day. Being half Navajo and half white, it was a challenge to figure out where I fit, but poetry allowed me to navigate my identity.
What challenges do you face?
I constantly think about the spaces I occupy and how they are often historically white. Though performing at Carnegie Hall (last year) is one of my favorite memories, backstage there were photos of past performers, many of them white men, and it was very intimidating. Another huge issue is tokenization; oftentimes, I am the first Native in a space or I’m told to “dress Native” for an event. It makes me feel like I am there for the diversity aspect and not for my work.
Tell us about your book of poetry.
I didn’t know what to expect when I first started working with the Sherman Indian boarding school (in Riverside), but by the end, I wanted to give them something that was representative of our time together. “Where I’m From: Poems from Sherman Indian School” is a way to preserve their voices.
What’s next for you?
I’m attending Yale and plan to go to law school and eventually become a tribal lawyer while continuing to make art. I want to keep spreading awareness. I want people to know that Native Americans are not just a part of history; they still occupy space and have real issues that shouldn’t be ignored.
Read her work!