We had the good fortune of connecting with Robert Tinajero and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Robert, we’d love to hear what makes you happy.
As I write this, I am abiding by the shelter-at-home regulation, as are millions of people worldwide. It is a perfect time to reflect on many things including the question “what makes you happy?” There are a number of things that make me happy. The first is family. I have been blessed with a great immediate and extended family. My wife is a wonderful person who brings love, great cooking, and art into the home. My son has an amazing personality and he is the love of my life. One of my greatest joys is spending time with him and seeing him laugh and learn new things. My stepson is also a great kid who is caring and loving. My parents are great, great people who taught me by example how to be a caring and ambitious person. My siblings bring love and humor into my life. I am also blessed with, literally, over a hundred cousins who have brought great joy into my life. Besides family, my work also brings me much happiness. I love being a college professor and interacting with my students and talented colleagues. Even if I was a millionaire and didn’t have to work, I would still spend time being a professor. I am also blessed to have many wonderful friends. Some of the best moments of my life were spent with friends, either going on trips or just hanging out a a restaurant, bar, or home gathering. Other things that make me happy are writing, reading, listening to music, playing and watching sports, experiencing my Latino culture, eating good food, listening to podcasts, and watching great television shows and documentaries. Finally, I would say that I have tried to transform into a person that finds happiness in all the experiences in life. Because of my Catholic faith and also my adherence to certain Buddhist philosophies, I try to find joy in both “good” and “bad experiences.” Every moment we are alive is a gift and if we change our mindset to remember that, we can find joy and happiness if amazing things but also in the mundane.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am foremost a teacher. I am currently a professor at UNT-Dallas and love teaching. But, I am also a writer and poet. I have published a few academic articles on race, hip hop, and rhetorical historiography. The most creative part of me comes out in my poetry. I try to write simple but meaningful poetry, similar to the poet Billy Collings. I write about life, relationships, everyday events, and culture. I am most proudest of my second book of poetry, Love Revolution. I am currently working on my third book of poetry and am looking for a publisher. I’ve learned that being a creative, especially in the world of poetry, it is nearly impossible to make a living off your work. I am blessed to have a great job and so I can do my poetry as a side project, which I love to do. I can also do it at my own pace and write poems whenever the mood strikes. My advice to other poets would be to not care so much what people are going to think about your poetry and to not be embarrassed to show your work. Whatever you write, there are going to people that love it, some that like it, some that don’t like it, some that don’t care about it. So push forward and write things that allow you to express yourself. Having a giant audience is not what it is all about.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
If my best friend was visiting Dallas I would take them to a number of places: – eat BBQ at Pecan Lodge; maybe go there every day for lunch! – go bar hopping in lower Greenville; definitely hit up Truckyard, Libertine, and play some pool at the Old Crow – Go to a Rangers or Mavs game – go eat some pizza at Pie Tap – eat some tacos at Tacos Mariachi – have an early dinner and drinks at Ruins in Deep Ellum – go golf at Stevens Golf Course – grab some coffee at Wild Detectives – have some pie at Emporium Pies – catch a show at Trees or House of Blues – walk around Bishop Arts – catch a movie at The Magnolia – smoke a cigar at Cigar Art in Bishop arts then grab a beer at Parker Barrow’s
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutouts go to my family, especially my mom and dad who have always been excellent role models. I also want to shoutout my immediate family, friends, and colleagues. I also want to send general thanks to every student I have had the pleasure of teaching. Students don’t realize how much purpose and joy they bring to my life. I also want to send a shoutout to some of my teachers and colleagues: Ms. Oth, Dr. Rod Stewart, Chitra Divakaruni, Dr. Richardson, Dr. Foster, Dr. Brunk-Chavez, Misti, Mariola, and Lindsey. Finally, I want to shoutout some creatives and intellectuals that have inspired me: Rumi, U2, Cornel West, Jay Z, J. Cole, Anthony Bourdain, Martin Luther King, and Martin Espada.
Other: My Podcast: Words, Words, Words: www.anchor.fm/Robert583 My Poetry Soundcloud Page: https://soundcloud.com/loverevolutionpoetry
All images are mine.