David Bowles is a Mexican-American author, professor and translator from the Rio Grande Valley who says he’s a proud Valluco – in other words, a Valley kid.
Bowles’ recent book, “They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid’s Poems,” shines a light on the common experience of Mexican-Americans who grow up in two worlds: they’re part of the U.S. but also very rooted in their comunidades. Bowles says the poems are all narrated by a boy called “Güero,” a light-skinned Chicano living on the border in 2018. He loves video games, his friends, getting into mischief and especially reading.
“He loves to read,” Bowles says.
One of the poems in the book, called “Learning to Read,” is about Güero’s disappointment on his first day of kindergarten. When he gets to school, expecting to dive into reading, he realizes none of the other kids even know the alphabet. The teacher is starting with the very basics: one letter, one day at a time. Güero decides it’s not for him.
“Not me, no way! I dropped out of kindergarten, little rebel that I was,” Güero says in the book.
That sets his reputation as a nerd, Bowles says, which also makes him vulnerable to bullying. Bowles says Güero uses poetry to grapple with this and other difficulties.
“Living on the border as a Mexican-American in 2018, having friends who are undocumented, and just, like, looking at the tenor of the times, it’s tough for a 12 year old,” Bowles says.
But Bowles says Güero also uses poetry to “rejoice in the wonderful things in his life.”
Written by Caroline Covington.