BBCC alum, poet Ricardo Ruiz visits campus
MOSES LAKE — Big Bend Community College welcomed poet Ricardo Ruiz to campus last week. Ruiz is a BBCC alum and recently published his first collection of poems, “We Had Our Reasons”.
Ruiz shared his educational journey and path to becoming an author as well as some of the inspiration behind his book. He also read a handful of poems from “We Had Our Reasons” for attendees.
His visit was sponsored by Big Bend ASB. While on campus, Ruiz also presented on overcoming personal obstacles and goal setting for the Passion Project Showcase series.
Ruiz graduated from Big Bend in 2016 with a business transfer degree. He went on to the University of Washington with the intent to study business but found himself pivoting to creative writing.
“The writing was never part of my plan. I was always a fan of literature but my own insecurities about writing kept me from practicing,” he said. “I attended BBCC to study business. I transferred to the University of Washington to study business. But while at BBCC I found that writing provided me an escape from the trauma and PTSD I was experiencing from my time in combat.”
Ruiz recalled how as a non-native English speaker, he never really felt comfortable writing even though he enjoyed it. He credits English instructor Dr. Allison Palumbo for helping give him the confidence to keep going.
“Dr. Palumbo became my first writing mentor, the first person who read my work and encouraged me to improve my skills and not focus on my lack of grammatical knowledge,” said Ruiz. “Dr. Palumbo also first exposed me to poetry and it was a form that I began to love.”
Ruiz was inspired to write his own collection of poems after talking to his parents about their migration to Eastern Washington. His desire to record their stories for his children led to the realization that there were so many other similar stories that should be recorded as well.
“We Had Our Reasons” was written in collaboration with his friends and family.
“I developed a collaborative technique that my publisher, Pully Press, and I called the ‘poetry pully’ that encourages poets to make poems with their friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family by interviewing them and then collaborating on poems that arise from the transcripts,” said Ruiz. “Each participant becomes a poet in the process, and the poems, as if strung along by a pulley, glide into the hands of readers.”
The poems in the collection give readers a look into the multi-generational effects of migration and the struggles that came with the decision to leave Mexico and travel to Eastern Washington. Some stories are told from the perspectives of parents and others, their children.
Each poem in the book is presented in both English and Spanish.
“I hope people understand the humanity involved in the larger topic of migration to the area,” he said. “Many of the farm laborers that do the work of the state’s $10.2 billion agricultural economy have come within the last 50 years. To understand what causes a person to want to leave their home, give up everything, and work long laborious hours for little pay is important to understand what allows Eastern Washington to operate. I would hope this could help build a bridge of understanding.”
To learn more about “We Had Our Reasons”, visit Ricardo Ruiz’s website.
Click play to watch a snippet of Ricardo’s presentation on goal setting!