La Respuesta is Navegando's version of the Proust Questionnaire, where we take a deep dive into exploring our similarities, our differences, and the stories that make us human.
Yohanca is a third-year MFA candidate in Creative Writing at American University in Washington, DC, where she also teaches undergraduate writing. She was born and raised in New York, by parents from Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
Name: Yohanca Delgado
Current location: Bethesda, just outside Washington, DC.
What defines you? Curiosity. I want to know why people think and act the way they do. I want to know all the ways in which the truth is stranger than fiction. Writing gives me a license to explore the world through story.
What keeps you up at night? In 2018? The news rends my heart every single day. In life? Replaying every dumb or unkind thing I've ever said or done in a perpetual loop.
What do you want the most? In 2018? For Trump to be deposed and jailed. For his myriad policy incursions on human rights to be reversed. In life? I want to write stories.
How do you handle loneliness? It's always been my disposition to love solitude, so it rarely crosses over into true loneliness. That said, I've lived in a lot of other countries (Brazil, Egypt, France, Lithuania, and Ukraine) and that was sometimes lonely. I've found that even when I'm somewhere where I don't speak the local language, I can usually find ways to engineer social opportunities through meet-ups or mutual friends. Knowing that there's a solution within your control softens loneliness, I think.
How do you feel purposeful? I feel most purposeful when I am doing something concrete to make the world better. Non-journalistic writing can be a difficult vocation because it doesn't offer an immediate, concrete sense of purpose for me, especially when I'm writing something new and I'm not sure if it'll be any good. I'm happiest when I can find ways to balance writing with other activities, like teaching, helping others with their writing projects, or volunteering.
What do you do, when there is no one else around? I love silencing my phone when I'm at home. I also binge-watch International House Hunters with my dog curled up in my lap.
What character in fame or fiction would you most like to be? My favorite book of all time is Julia Alvarez's In the Time of the Butterflies. It tells the real story of the Mirabal sisters, three sisters who famously (and tragically) led a resistance movement against the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic in the 1940s and 50s. I'd love to be as brave as any of them.
What thing can you not live without? Coffee.
What medium of art most moves you, and what work makes your heart sing? Good stories make me happy. Books hold a tremendous power to evoke empathy and show us new worlds. What a gift that can be. My list of favorites changes all the time, but what comes to mind today are classics that carry a certain poetic music in their sentences; I'm thinking of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, Toni Morrison's Jazz, Nikolai Gogol's Dead Souls, Alejo Carpentier's short stories, and AJ Verdelle's The Good Negress. I've just started reading Clarice Lispector and I am already entranced by the way she toys with syntax; the verve of her sentences comes through even in translation. I'm also loving two 2018 releases: Naima Coster's poignant Halsey Street and Elizabeth Acevedo's delightful novel-in-verse The Poet X. It makes me so happy to see talented Dominicanas on the bookshelves!
Are you interested in telling your stories? Fill out the form here and we'll be add you to the list for future La Respuesta posts.