Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson
San Antonio Poet Laureate
Photography by Nina A. Padilla
Describe what you do as San Antonio’s Poet Laureate.
I help bring awareness to the literary arts in the community by creating events and initiatives. I teach creative writing workshops and write commissioned poems. For instance, I created Facebook writing groups for young adults 17 and under and one for adults 18 and up. I created a hashtag writing challenge. Every Wednesday, I have a writing prompt that I put out on social media through my residency with The Carver Community Cultural Center.
What path led you to become the Poet Laureate?
It’s been a dream of mine since I saw Maya Angelou read On the Pulse of Morning at Bill Clinton’s Inauguration in 1993. I know the other four Poets Laureate of San Antonio, Laurie Ann Guerrero, SA’s 2nd Poet Laureate is very near and dear to my heart. She invited me to her investiture ceremony, and from then on, I knew one day I would achieve this goal. I was nominated by three people who sent in a recommendation packet for me. I am grateful I was chosen. The city puts out a call on their website getcreativesanantonio.com; there is a list of requirements 1. resume with bio 2. curriculum vitae 3. sample poems & 4. a recommendation letter.
What has been the most memorable moment so far?
I would say the mural, Elevated Melanin, that I painted around Travis Park with Centro de Artes was very life-changing.
Who is your favorite poet or writer, and why?
Maya Angelou is my favorite, and everything about her is amazing. She is a multidisciplinary artist, and her voice, tone, and point of view are pure alchemy to me.
What poem or book affected you personally and why?
I would say, The Bible. It’s really full of poetry, and I use it in my life every day.
Why is writing so important?
Writing is a form that freedom takes on. Your pen is a powerful tool. Just look at Yelp as an example, lol!
What inspires you in writing poetry?
I am inspired by my zeal for people, music, and my desire to understand the world.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m serving an artist residency at the Carver Community Cultural Center, and creating content. I’m filming poetry for video vignettes entitled The B.R.E.A.T.H.E. Series in collaboration with Tamara Adira and other artists.
I am also creating my signature initiative The Echo Project for my city laureateship. I recently won a fellowship with The Academy of American Poets. The fellowship will allow me to bring workshops about oral history and performance celebrations to the San Antonio community.
What’s next in your poetic journey?
I want to become a full-time Teaching Artist, I want to travel more with my art forms, and I want to write a children’s book or 2.
What advice do you have for young people who want to express themselves through poetry?
My advice is to keep everything you write. Never throw anything away! Sometimes you need to sit with something or leave it and come back to it.
Find your tribe that will help you with your process and keep them close.