Kali Fajardo-Anstine writes edgy stories that are garnering national attention.
By Janalee Card Chmel
Publish Date: October 17, 2014
Kali Fajardo-Anstine has "a hunger to produce something that's beautiful and interesting for people." PHOTO: Jessica Taves
Kali Fajardo-Anstine (B.A. English ’09) admits that her short stories are dark. Darkness is unavoidable, she said, when you write about the people and cultures that she does.
“When you’re Chicana, it means you have historically outlived great violence,” she explained. “I come from American Indian, Hispano and Jewish ancestors. Throughout history these groups have suffered immensely. It’s a disservice to my culture to ignore it.”
Recently, Fajardo-Anstine’s “dark voice” has been getting quite a bit of attention. In the last few years, her work has been published in Boston Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Kartika Review, The Idaho Review and Southwestern American Literature.
Her short story, “Remedies,” earned a notable citation in The Best American Series and her story “Sabrina’s Neck” was a finalist in Glimmer Train’s Family Matters Contest. She was also nominated for a prestigious Pushcart Prize.
Fajardo-Anstine said her earliest memories are
of “creating my own space” by hiding under her bed
from her six brothers and sisters, reading books. She wasn’t a great student, however, and by high school, she’d had it.
“I was bored in high school,” she said. “I would skip school and read Kafka in the park.”
Fajardo-Anstine dropped out, but earned her GED. Then, she registered for college and took her first class at MSU Denver the summer before her high school peers went to college.
“My first class was taught by [lecturer] Roger Green and he had us read Sartre. Finally, my mind was engaged. I felt nurtured at Metro.”
Fajardo-Anstine minored in Chicana/o Studies and says that is where she first discovered she had a unique story to tell.
“The professors in the Chicana/o Studies Department were so supportive,” she said. “They validated my existence. They were academics, and they were studying and researching what it meant to be a woman like me. I hadn’t encountered that before.”
After graduating from MSU Denver, Fajardo-Anstine earned a spot at Hedgebrook, a residency program for women writers. She was also a writer-in-residence at Hub City Writers Project in Spartanburg, S.C. and she earned an MFA from the University of Wyoming.
More recently, Fajardo-Anstine has decided to stop moving around and get a job.
“I’d like to be able to afford rent and food,” she said.
Of course, she will keep telling her stories.
“I’m infinitely curious, I love exploring, I love ideas, I love beautiful language,” she said. “I have a hunger to produce something that’s beautiful and interesting for people."