© 2021 KALW
KALW Public Media / 91.7 FM Bay Area
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

A poet reflects on the trauma of crossing the border as a child travelling alone

Ana Ruth Zamora, resized and recropped
Poet Javier Zamora

At age nine, Javier Zamora left his grandparent’s home in El Salvador and made the treacherous journey across the US Mexican border by himself.

He was looking to reunite with his parents who had left the country when he was little — forced out because of the country’s civil war. More than 70,000 Salvadorans died in that war, which was funded in part by the US government. Zamora spent the rest of his childhood growing up in San Rafael’s Canal District. Now he's an accomplished poet and a Wallace Stegner fellow at Stanford University. His latest collection Unaccompanied traces his memories of El Salvador, his journey through the Sonoran Desert, and the difficulty of settling in a new land. He spoke with KALW’s Hannah Kingsley-Ma about the process of writing it. He starts with a poem



"With all the accolades that I've had, you may think that I am a good immigrant. That this is what happens when the 'American dream' is satisfied. I don't feel like I'm in no f***ing dream."

Javier Zamora will be reading at Alley Cat Books at 6:3o on Thursday, October 12th, and at Litquake's Lit Crawl Saturday, October 14th. 

Hannah Kingsley-Ma is a reporter and producer living in San Francisco.