CSULB student reveals personal experiences in debut chapter book
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012 20:10
While some release tension through exercise or physical activity, Cal State Long Beach student Christopher Soto spills his troubles through poetry.
After years of writing and performing poems that reflect on his life experiences, Soto has culminated his works into his first chapter book, “How to Eat Glass,” which was released on Friday.
“How to Eat Glass,” a collection of Soto’s poetry, focuses on issues of domestic abuse, homelessness and life as a queer Latino in Southern California. The compilation of poems also delves into the finding and building of a community, according to Soto.
Soto said the book is a narration of his “lived experiences,” including issues he has witnessed firsthand such as domestic abuse, homelessness, drug abuse, abuse of religion, racism within a low-income community and homophobia within universities and professional settings.
“My goal is to let other people know that domestic abuse, homelessness conflicts with sexual orientation, and these issues are ongoing every single day,” Soto said. “And even though it may not be your reality, it may be someone else’s reality.”
Soto, a senior communications major with a minor in creative writing, said that his start in poetry began with hip-hop.
“I grew up listening to hip-hop,” he said. “My older sister went to UC Santa Barbara and came back with a slam poetry CD. Slam poetry uses a lot of rhythm and rhyme scheme.”
The rhythmic nature of slam poetry made transitioning from hip-hop to poetry rather easy, Soto said. He said that being involved with poetry made a huge impact on his life. He started competing in slam poetry competitions when he was 15 years old, as a member of the Inland Empire Slam Team. Then, after starting college, he began experimenting with different forms of poetry, including performance-based poetry.
Soto also helps to manage the CSULB poetry team as well as the Poet’s Lounge on campus. He also created Long Beach Poetry, a community calendar that informs all Long Beach poets of what events are going on.
“I’m all over the place,” Soto said.
One push for the publication of “How to Eat Glass” was the audience at Soto’s many speaking events, he said. His listeners always asked for something to read beyond spoken word.
Sotto said that when he finally felt that he had discovered a voice he was proud of, he started reaching out to people he knew within the art community.
Soto networked with Lost Bros Crew, an art collective based out of San Francisco, which then linked him with Still Life Press, a publishing company based in Los Angeles. Still Life showed interested in publishing his text, Soto said, and started the publishing process during this summer.
Still Life is now working with Soto to set tour dates and start promotions in places such as San Francisco and Seattle.
With the release of his book, Soto said that it is a time to move forward. He is looking toward graduate schools, where he plans to pursue a master’s degree with a focus in poetry.
“I’m interested in mixed media and how poetry can advance itself in the modern and electronic age,” Soto said. “That’s an area I’m going to explore within my graduate work in the next couple of years.”