Q Tells All in Annapolis

Fernando Quijano III with MWA President Jim Heimberg

Self-described “Word Pimp” Fernando Quijano III told the Annapolis Chapter on June 18, “I haven’t been limited to being a poet, or a short story author, or any category of writer, since I read the collected works of Edgar Allan Poe at a very young age.”

Quijano is the new president of the MWA Baltimore Chapter and an accomplished artist in many ways, most publicly on his blog, “The Word Pimp Spits Wisdom Like Seeds.”

His generous and humble presentation was a virtual journey through Quijano’s life experiences. He opened his heart to the Annapolis writers, telling how he began as “a welfare child” in Hoboken, N.J. and for his whole life strove in many ways to refine and focus his writing, while making a living in unrelated employment during and after his education at the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, the Maryland Institute College of the Arts (MICA) and University of Baltimore.

Quijano’s work has been featured in Welter, Smile Hon, You’re in Baltimore, and the poetry anthology Life in Me Like Grass on Fire. He is a columnist for theurbantwist.com. In 2011, he was awarded a “B” Grant for his writing by the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund.

He began his talk at the Annapolis chapter meeting in the Maryland Hall for the Arts, by reading a frank essay he published in Baltimore Fishbowl called “Life with Mom: My Hero, My Heroin Addict” (http://tinyurl.com/bswbbco), about striving to become an artist after a troubled childhood.

Quijano then shared a treasure trove of creative and business ideas he has used with success and sometimes not. He said, “I am driven by the [Winston] Churchill quote, ‘“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” On the other hand, he said his favorite word is catharsis. “To an artist, the word catharsis is the emotional release an artist feels when a piece is completed,” he explained.

He said he learned early in his career that “writers need to have a certain amount of vanity that drives them. I was sick with that,” he said with a quick laugh.

After Poly he found a voice for his poetry, reading at open mics in local coffeehouses. At MICA, he was influenced by guest speaker, the famous beat poet Allan Ginsberg, who said, the most important lesson is to say as much as you can in as few words as possible. Quijano said Ginsberg’s lesson for him meshes well with a motto of French painter Paul Cezanne who said don’t emphasize the obvious but emphasize the meat of the matter.

Quijano encouraged the writers on hand to become well known by making great use of social media. Turn to the Internet, said Quijano, if frustrated by submitting stories to traditional publishers, getting rejection after rejection. He said that for him, a course he took on the business of writing reinforced the huge hunger for content on the Internet.

One year after leaving his retail day job to devote full time to his writing, Quijano’s blog gets more than 1,000 hits a month (12,000 total hits, to date). Quijano suggested that many people do not realize that blogging allows a writer to see how many viewers they have. While devoting more focus on his active blog, Quijano has become more proactive on his Facebook, where he promotes his friends works more than his own. “It is a mistake to just promote your own stuff. You should use it as a social networking platform. All of this is my way to get attention and getting attention is good [for his craft],” he said.

His “way of giving back,” is to volunteer teach at Baltimore’s Writing Outside the Fence, through the Baltimore Re-Entry Center, an organization that helps residents with criminal records secure employment and avoid recidivism. He concluded his talk with, “The only big word I really teach them is the word ‘catharsis’. It’s my hope that if they can learn to express themselves through their art, they won’t do so violently, on the street, and end up back in prison.”

For a video of Quijano’s presentation, see this post on the Annapolis Chapter website.


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