Daisy Hernandez celebrates the translation of her memoir and a new feminist anthology

Written by Caroline Igo, CAS communications intern

Daisy Hernández

Writer, editor, feminist, and assistant professor of creative writing Daisy Hernández has pulled together an impressive list of achievements, including co-editing a collection of feminist essays and publishing her own memoir.

After acquiring her MA in journalism and Latin American and Caribbean studies at New York University (NYU) and her MFA in creative writing at the University of Miami, Hernández joined the creative writing program in Miami University's Department of English in the fall of 2015. She currently teaches intermediate and advanced nonfiction and fiction for undergrads, as well as nonfiction writing workshops for graduate students.

"I chose Miami because I loved the faculty that I met, and I admired the work that they were doing," Hernández said. "I also appreciated that there was a focus on the teacher and student relationship, so I would be able to work one-on-one."

At the time, Hernández was also conducting research for a new book. "Miami was very supportive and interested in my research. They acknowledged that what I was doing as a writer could be of important use to students," she said. Her next book about the 'kissing bug disease' will be published by Tin House Books. [See the March 2019 Miami press release Junior Faculty Scholar Award recipients for 2019: Hernandez, Magee and Ye.]

A New Edition of Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism

"Colonize This! is a collection of essays that I co-edited," said Hernández. She worked alongside her friend and fellow writer Bushra Rehman and published the first edition of the book in 2002.

"I was approached by a publisher who wanted me to do a book of essays about young women of color on the topic of feminism," Hernández said, "and I said yes!"

She had just completed her graduate program at NYU when the opportunity presented itself. Hernández and Rehman wanted to represent another generation of young women and further explore intersectional feminism.

"A lot has changed since Colonize This! was first published," she said. "So, for this second version, we invited nine new women to write." Amber Taylor '17, a Miami alumna and student of Hernández, was one woman they selected.

The new edition of the anthology covers a wide range of topics in order to align with 2019. "It contains essays about young women who have participated in organizing undocumented families, about online bullying, about being transgender, and about a feminist who wants children," said Hernández.

A New Spanish Translation of A Cup of Water Under My Bed

When Hernández first came to Miami, she had just published her memoir. "A Cup of Water Under My Bed is a coming-of-age story of how I grew up as the queer daughter of Latin American immigrants," she said. "They were very confused by me, as parents often are by their children." The memoir is about negotiating those family relationships.

"I was working as a journalist and writing on the weekends," she added. "It took me about 5 years to finalize the memoir. I wanted to be able to depict what actually happened, because I wanted readers to connect with it."

A Cup of Water Under My Bed was first published in English in September 2015 and was received very well by audiences.

"After the book came out, I was shocked to have so many emails flood my inbox from both friends and strangers," Hernández said. "They all said the same thing: 'That was my experience too!'"

Hernández and many of her readers who grew up as children of immigrants acted as the "translator" of the family. Through this shared experience, Hernández was able to connect with readers from all over, not only in the United States.

"Someone wrote to me whose parents are from China, another person whose parents were from Haiti, and others whose parents are from Latin America," she said. "Nonfiction connects you with readers in a very intimate way."

This memoir was translated into Spanish last year by the independent Colombian publisher Rey Naranjo. Hernández said the company was very interested in work by feminists, so it was a perfect match.

"I worked very closely with the translator," Hernández said. "I was lucky, because he had come to the U.S. to do his MFA, so he had a little bit more knowledge than other translators about living in the U.S. as an immigrant."

Hernández has attended many book events in order to promote this translation. "I was just in Cali, Columbia for a wonderful book festival," she said. "It is organized and run by the public library system, and they invite dozens of writers from all over Latin America."

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) just chose A Cup of Water Under My Bed as its fall reading book for students. The Tennessee Technological University also asked Hernández to present about her memoir during their Center Stage lecture series. [See the 2019 Tennessee Tech press release Activist Daisy Hernandez visits Oct. 22.]