We had the good fortune of connecting with Vincent Cooper and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Vincent, why did you pursue a creative career?
I grew up in Alhambra, California and lived with older cousins who attended The Los Angeles School for the Arts. They were the primary influences, as well, as their artist friends who would visit the house. We had musicians, actors and filmmakers around that were an extension of our family. I loved music and tried out drums but couldn’t stay consistent. When I was 12, the family was experiencing a lot of loss. I wrote about it. I felt as though I couldn’t discuss the grief with anyone so I pulled out a sheet of paper and wrote about the relatives that had passed away. One sheet became three that became ten. It was exhilarating. I continued to write poetry and short stories throughout my high School years in Vegas. My High School teachers also encouraged my writing highlighting the honesty of my voice and story. Post high school, I joined the military briefly, still writing poems when I had time. I wanted to write screenplays first but stuck with poetry and short stories. In my early 30’s, I decided to submit poems for publication. I was reluctant but my first seven submissions were accepted in anthologies, online and print publications. At this point, I decided to write a screenplay regarding musician John Lennon. I quit my bank job at the time to focus on this screenplay and poetry. Though, the screenplay did not go through, at this point I realized, I only wanted to write. The oral tradition of story telling is what I’ve done my entire life which I learned from older relatives. I keep it going by writing these poems.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I write about the Chicano condition in the nostalgia of now. At age 33, I started submitting poems and stories. I was unaware of the process to submit so I did what others do, ask Rolling Stone magazine, Henry Rollins, or send an unsolicited screenplay only to have a lawyer to tell me to get an agent. I asked Twitter for help. An agent responded and it was not a good experience. I started to submit work everywhere I could and the rejections came in. Every journal, zine, has a theme or work they look to publish. It’s imperative to read their catalog prior to submitting. Before all of that, read. Read everything. Write. Write everything. If you feel that in those notes, documents, sketchpads, that there is something there worth publishing, then search for it. Only send your best work. Never put out work that won’t stand the test of time. You never want to have regrets. Reach out to your heroes. Tell them everything you’re going through and what their works means to you. They love hearing it. I want Chicanos/a’s/@’s/x stories to be heard, read and recognized on a international level where I feel we receive very little recognition.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
In San Antonio, we have an established community of artists, musicians and poets. At Blue Star, we have art galleries, Halcyon coffee shop and brewery alongside the residential side of the Riverwalk. At Pearl, we have local artisan shops, restaurants and Farmer’s Market. Downtown San Antonio and the Riverwalk is a mix of restaurants, shops, and live music. We have the St. Mary’s Strip which consists of dive bars, music venues and dining. We would definitely go to Demo’s Restaurant (Greek) or have a pickle/chamoy shot at Hi Tones. King William Historical District has outdoor beer gardens The Friendly Spot and Beethoven’s Maanechor. There is a mix of Mexican, barbecue, Asian restaurants and the Liberty Bar. Also, San Antonio has haunted hotels. The Menger Bar/hotel is a great place for drinks and history. We also have The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in the beautiful westside of San Antonio. Taqueria’s are near and dear to my heart. I would make it a point to get tacos at Tony’s on Nogalitos and visit Los Valles on Zarzamora.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shoutout to my wife Viktoria Valenzuela who published me in an online journal called Big Bridge. Viktoria was curating this journal selecting artists and writers in San Antonio, TX. We met through my publisher on Facebook in 2013. At this point, we met and exchanged ideas on poetry and the scene here in San Antonio. She was instrumental in the editing/revisions process of my poetry from that point on. I do not submit any work unless she has approved it. Viktoria has been a huge influence in my work. She has put necessary books in my hand to learn from. Her input is crucial to any success that comes my way.