Friends, I’m honored to introduce you to one of my friends and former colleagues today. Xavier Pastrano and I met while teaching in higher education, and though he’s since moved on to teach at one of the largest high schools in our region, he’s remained a good friend. He’s a devoted educator, a talented musician, and an all-around great human, and his poetry is honest from the first word to the last verse. As a bonus, make sure you read through to the end of this post to enter to win a copy of Xavier’s first poetry chapbook, entitled XXX (Thirty)!
Introduce yourself! Why are you a storyteller? Why do you feel called to share your stories (or the stories of others) in your work?
My name is Xavier Pastrano, and I’m a poet and teacher living in Sioux Falls. I think I was drawn to storytelling because it’s a cathartic experience for me, one that allows me to better process and understand my emotions, thoughts, observations, etc. Also, it allows me to connect to others in a way that I typically wouldn’t be able to. I’ve always thought that writing is a way to bridge the gap between individuals, so I consciously try to write in ways that allow me to remain truthful to myself, but also allow me to connect with others, especially those who may be experiencing similar situations but may be apprehensive about opening up. We live in a world full of stigmas and toxic, preconceived notions, which can have the tendency to stifle one’s growth or prevent them from reaching out or seeking help. However, I’m at a stage in my life where I’m totally comfortable with who I am, flaws and all, and I really don’t care about those stigmas and preconceived notions, so I actively try to shut them down through my writing with the hope of simultaneously reaching out to others and showing them that they’re not alone.
What medium do you create within (i.e. photography, poetry, songwriting, fashion, blogging, etc.), and why?
As far as my medium goes, I’ve been spending most of my time with poetry, songwriting, and music. My poetry has kind of taken the front seat for now, so I’ve just been writing a lot (I try to write every day, even if it’s just a little quip). I currently have two new manuscripts I’ve been working on, one called Hey, Kid and the other called Seeing Sounds. The latter is actually being published by Harsan Publishing and will be released in early February of this year. In addition to writing poetry, I also play in a band called Skin Of Our Teeth, and I’ve been very busy with them, too (we’re releasing our second full length album on February 1st, 2019). While we all contribute our own musical parts, I’m also the main songwriter of the band, so even though we’re just about to put out a new album, we’ve already begun to write new material.
What have you overcome in order to share your stories with others? What have you learned thus far about business or creativity that you’d like readers to know?
In order to share what I have in my writing, I had to overcome the fear of judgment: specifically, the judgment of my character by friends, family, and strangers. I could say that I don’t care what people think of me, but that would be a lie. I think that no mater what a person says, they will always care what people think of them, even if it’s just a little. However, what I’ve gotten comfortable with is the idea that I’m totally cool with who I am, and if people don’t dig who I am or what I have to say, then that’s okay, too, because at the end of the day I know who I am and I have friends and family who support and love me. Before my chapbook XXX (Thirty) was published, I was very nervous because the poems were some of, if not the most, candid and honest poems I’ve every written about myself and what I’ve gone through since I turned 30 two years ago. Some of the poems covered my battle with mental illness, anxiety, deconversion from religion, politics, etc…It was scary because I knew that people were going to have opinions, but I just had to remember that I value myself and that there are others in my life who do as well, so that made it easier. One thing I learned throughout all of this is that at the end of the day, we’re all humans with strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important for us to do what we need to do in order to take care of ourselves. For me, it’s creative writing, music, and art. I may be busy with my family, teaching, etc…but I learned that it’s okay to temporarily step down or away from some commitments in order to take care of myself.
Where are you headed? What’s next for you in sharing your stories?
Since getting my first collection of poems published by Prolific Press, I’ve become very excited about jumpstarting my writing career, so I’ve been putting my efforts towards that. After this second collection gets published by Harsan, I hope to get my book of poems, Hey, Kid, officially published. After that, I’m not entirely sure where things will go, but I’m excited to find out. As for my band, we’ve been busy getting ready to drop this new album. We’re releasing the album digitally (downloads and streaming) and physically (CDs). We’re also planning on having a vinyl pre-order. Essentially, we’d like to sign to a smaller label, so we’ve been shopping around that as well.
How can readers connect with you?
If you’d like to keep up with my writing, music, and life, people can follow me here:
EXCLUSIVE GIVEAWAY FOR WHAT SARA SAID READERS!
Enter below to win a signed copy of Xavier’s first poetry chapbook entitled XXX (Thirty). Winners must live in the United States. Enter as many ways as you’d like! The giveaway will close at 12:00AM on Friday, January 25, 2019.a Rafflecopter giveaway