Arturo Magana Amaya

Arturo Magaña publishes book of poems set in local U.S. Mexico border region

October 11, 2023

Yuma, AZ (October 11, 2023) – When choosing a major in college, Arturo Magaña Amaya didn’t think he could go to school to become a writer. So, he decided to study urban planning and anthropology instead. 

But that didn’t stop him from pursuing his love of writing. Over the next 14 years that followed, he continued down other career paths, but his one constant was writing during any spare moments he could find.

"I was always writing. That’s where I would spend my time in college, at the coffee shops, on Friday nights instead of going to parties, I was always trying to write. I remember in high school I would struggle with English classes, but I loved reading and I still wanted to write for me, never thinking it would work out. I didn’t get any responses back about my writing for many years."

And then, three years ago, his dedication and persistence finally paid off after he received an email from a professor he had been introduced to at Arizona State University, Stella Pope Duarte, who was putting out a call for poem submissions. He shared some of his own work with her, and it soon became evident to Duarte that their meeting so many years prior was a "dios-incidence" or "divine coincidence."

"As I read his poetry in the wee hours of the morning, as is my custom, I was stunned by the sheer beauty of his work, simply told, yet opening before my eyes a world lived in what has been described as a war zone – the U.S. Mexico border," said Duarte. "His ability to see beyond the harsh reality and capture the sacred invisible bonds between north and south immersed me in the world of desperate refugees, lovers torn apart, lost members of familias who never made it back, and courageous unfailing trust and faith in God."

Duarte, an award-winning author whose work was previously selected for One Book Yuma, suggested that Amaya submit a collection of over 50 poems to Mimbres Press of Western New Mexico University in 2021. Mimbres Press of Western New Mexico University is dedicated to advancing the University’s mission by publishing works of lasting value that reflect the intellectual, creative, historical, natural, and cultural heritage of the southwest region and state of New Mexico, as well as selective works of national and global significance. Amaya's manuscript, Nostalgias of November, became one of the very first projects undertaken by Mimbres Press. The book was published in April 2023 and officially launched at Western New Mexico University in September.

"Seeing the book in person, I feel at peace," said Amaya. "I feel like I planted the seed so many years ago, it was watered by my experience, and by the love of the people around me. It feels wonderful to do something for the people around me and to validate our experience. It was a beautiful thing that I never thought would have happened."

Amaya’s direct influences for his first collection of bilingual poems were drawn from his memories of his grandparents, Antonia Gascón de Magaña and Heriberto Amaya Solano, and his childhood experiences growing up both in the farming town of Somerton, Arizona and the fishing town of El Golfo de Santa Clara, Mexico. His free verse poems chronicle not only his own childhood but his grandparents’ tales of growing up in Mexico and the Chicano and migrant experience. Amaya also draws from his current human rights work with migrants today, providing aid to people who have lost loved ones crossing the border.

"A poet’s gift is immersion—the ability to captivate readers with images, sensations and thoughts that create a living place on the printed page. Suddenly, the poet’s world becomes the reader’s world. Arturo Magaña Amaya’s poetry collection, Nostalgias of November, is a remarkable display of this stylized writing. His work opens spaces and places in the human psyche that without his words would have remained untouched. Longings and hidden truths deep in the human heart are stirred to life and follow a path from darkness to light and beyond to new paths, some rocky and treacherous with twists and turns, others open invitations to climb higher," said Duarte. 

Amaya is an academic and career advisor at Arizona Western College and also teaches Cultural Anthropology as an adjunct faculty member. He earned his master’s degree in Anthropology Research from Northern Arizona University in 2017.

Arturo Magaña Amaya
Academic & Career Advisor/Adjunct Faculty 
Arizona Western College
(928) 344-7628