Meet Marilynn Montaño, a writer and poet, who shares with us the strength of her amá and the fierce womxn in her life who have shaped and empowered the person she is today.

1. How do you honor your ancestors or the womxn in your life?

I honor my ancestors and the womxn in my life through writing poetry, creating in different art mediums, journaling, cooking, natural remedies, and most importantly maintaining an altar on top of my book case with my both of grandmothers and parents photo, water, earth stones, sage, vision board, and plants that my amá helps me maintain every week.

2. Why is your relationship with your amá special?

My amá is a fierce womxn from Puebla, Mexico and she migrated to the U.S. in her early 20’s. She gathered all her money she earned from babysitting and waitressing jobs in Mexico to make the journey to the U.S. She grew up in household with a lot of siblings and unfortunately did not get the chance to have time with her mother because she passed away early in her life. My amá shows love to my three brothers and I everyday with reminding us to eat, drink water, to get up and not let depression take over. “Tu puedes” says my amá to me when she notices me in my sadness. My amá is my first home I have ever had and my first friend in life. She nurtured my love for writing by taking me to the local library and staying up late with me to help me finish school projects. Most importantly, my amá never let not driving a car, not finishing school, or her minimum english speaking stop her to get things done. Throughout the years my amá continues to hustle with learning in any way she can by going to any parent workshops at my siblings school as way to be a student. She will come home and tell us the homework they assigned her and my siblings and I take turns helping her out. My amá likes to check out cooking books or natural home remedy books to read in between her days and will participate in my city’s library adult reading program in the summer. My amá is my first teacher and I will always honor her in any work I do. I would not be up at any open mic or sharing my creativity if it was not for my amá’s love to fight despite the obstacles. 

For the rest of the fierce womxn whom become like sisters to me in my Santa Ana community: Cristina Flores, Iuri Lara, Mindy Velasco , Sarah Rafael Garcia, Savannah Muñoz, Mextli Lopez, and many more are the definition of fierce womxn as well. Whenever I share my art it is because these womxn have pushed me to not hold back, held space for me and encourage me to fight for my goals whenever I forget or my depression kicks in through: text messages, laughs, tea or boba dates, bookstore dates, veggie meals, sharing herbal remedies, showing up to each other events when possible, passing on words wisdom, and many more ways.

3. How has she shaped who you are today?

The fire I have inside today to create and to write comes from my amá’s example to keep learning and caring for those around her. My fierce sisters in my community whom have taught me what love is and that everyone is on their own timeline in life. I mix English and Spanish in my poetry to share my fierceness and I push myself to use my poetry in different art forms to grow and nourish all parts of me. I hustle between my day time job and the writer I set to be to share stories and keep them alive. I allow myself to write as raw as I can about my emotions and not hold back because we all go through depression, sadness, and fears at times. I celebrate all parts of me because I am also fierce like the womxn around me.

4. What is their legacy?

My ama’s legacy are her ways of making a lot with the few things that you have and sharing them with others. Her joy that she leaves in her cooking and I hope one day if I ever have children of my own that I would share with them stories of whom made it all happen for me to be a home for them. 

The fierce womxn in my community leave their mark by the teachers that they are, the books they have written, the books and zines they still have yet to birth, the importance of collaboration, the natural remedies that we practice to keep our ancestors alive. It is also the community they are always building through art, journalism, healing circles,  education, literature, joy and mentorship. 

This is a poem for all the womxn in the universe: 

To all the cosmic womxn in the universe 
To all the muxeres in my lineage whom birthed before my amá 
To all the celestial womxn 
To all the ones que trabajan duro
To all those who work on embracing themselves off and on the mirror 
To all the divine panzas making waves 
To all the chaparritas y ronditas 

Get up, 
always wake up feeling bolder than yesterday 

Take the eyeliner straight to a wing 

Let the world know you do not play around 

Rub your panza with love 
Massage your scalp with rosemary 
Brush your pelitos 
Mist rose spray across your pechos 

You are love 
You are a delicacy 
Take up space 
Own your space 

This is your calling 
This is your time