Who is Sili Recio? She is the proud mother of an 11-year old artist that continues to ask hard-hitting questions about 3 minutes before bedtime in spite of Sili purchasing her The Big Book Of Why. Speaking of books, Sili loves them. So much so that Denene Millner Books published her first children’s book, If Dominican Were a Color.
Congrats on being nominated for The Alma Flor Ada Best Latino Focused Children’s Children Book Award and Best Children’s Picture Book.
Thank you so much! I was so honored to have been included in such great books.
What Inspired “If Dominican were a color?”
The book is based on a poem I wrote for adults many years ago. I wrote that poem in response to the constant question of “what are you?”. It used to drive me crazy (still does). So I set out to talk about the things I felt in my heart with that poem and it eventually inspired the pivot to a children’s book because I thought it might be something that children could connect to.
Tell us about winning a poetry contest at 6. That’s pretty amazing!
It was a poetry contest after a mudslide in Mayaguez, P.R. and I remember the assistant principal of P.S. 153, Mrs. Abbott, encouraging us to write. I wrote the poem from the perspective of being from the island and it was the first time that I was ever able to be outside of my own experiences and attempt to see through someone else’s eyes. I think I have a copy of it somewhere but, the first lines went something like this…
I was born there, but I won’t tell you where. You will just have to guess from all these things. This is the country where the coqui lives, the flamboyan blooms and the waters flow through my veins.
Those words have never left me. I was 10 or 11 at the time and I remember thinking…wow. I can connect with something and write outside of myself. That was a hard year for me because I’d been skipped from 5th to 6th grade a few weeks after school started and I was really trying to adjust to the changes. I was selected to represent my school and that won me a trophy.
I don’t remember where the idea came from but, as with many things I’ve written since, the first few words popped into my head as if dropped there by design and everything else took shape after that.
What is momsrising.org and what work do you do for them?
MomsRising is an on-the-ground and online grassroots organization working to achieve economic security for all moms, women, and families in the United States. I lead the digital strategy team at MomsRising as their Vice President and I might be biased but I think I work with some of the best digital strategists in the nonprofit (and for-profit) space.
What future projects of yours should we be on the lookout for?
There’s been so much happening in every aspect of life at the moment. I have a couple of writing projects coming up and a passion project the ancestors have been nudging me (read: beating me over the head) about. That’s probably the thing I’m most excited about. It’s coming soon!
What advice would you leave our future Poets and Writers of Color?
Tell your stories! Speak your truth. And don’t ever let anyone measure you by the stick of their own limited experiences. What’s for you, is for you. And, find a circle of people that are genuinely happy to see you win and that will also hold you accountable for what you say you’re going to do and who you say you’re going to be.
Thank you so much Silifor the opportunity to interview you! We will be on the lookout for your new works!
You can find Sili on IG @silirecio and order her book at If Dominican Were a Color — Sili Recio