Benjamin Alire Sáenz Quotes

Benjamin Alire Sáenz is an American poet, novelist, and children’s book author who has penned several award-winning books, including the prestigious PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Sáenz’s writing often deals with the realities and complexities of growing up Latino in the United States. His work has been praised for its lyrical beauty, insight, and compassion. Here are some of the best quotes from Benjamin Alire Sáenz that will be sure to resonate with you.

  • Summer was a book of hope. That’s why I loved and hated summers. Because they made me want to believe.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • Words were different when they lived inside of you.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • I’m an ex-Catholic priest. I have such a complex relationship to Catholicism. On the one hand, if I called myself a Catholic it would have to be a very unorthodox one, as I just don’t believe all of the teachings of the Church. But on the other hand, I’m an educated man because the Catholic Church educated me. It gave me something that is really important to me. So I always think about my faith. I always have it, and sometimes I can’t talk about it, and sometimes I can. I am like an adolescent in that way. Teens are asking questions: who is God and what does it mean to have faith?

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • Young men and women come of age when they look at their parents and see them not only as their parents but as people. They gain a lot of compassion, and it’s easier to accept their flaws.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • You are thirst and thirst is all I know

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • Water was something he loved, something he respected. He understood its beauty and its dangers. He talked about swimming as if it were a way of life.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • It’s a complex thing when you’re writing a novel, because so much of it is conscious and planned and deliberate, and so much of it is not, and it has to be a dance between the conscious and the unconscious. I bring my best instincts to my work. For instance – and I come by this naturally, or I think I do – I am a very good judge of character.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • I didn’t think it was my job to accept what everyone said I was and who I should be.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • I got to thinking that poems were like people. Some people you got right off the bat. Some people you just didn’t get–and never would get.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • We have this huge discourse on family in this country, but no one deconstructs it the same way. People talk about “the American family.” The right wing has this thing – Focus on the Family. What the hell is that? I don’t want to just discuss the issues – I want family to be a real part of the character of the novels I write, and I don’t like to write things that feel like issue books.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • The summer sun was not meant for boys like me. Boys like me belonged to the rain.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • I wondered what that was like, to hold someone’s hand. I bet you could sometimes find all of the mysteries of the universe in someone’s hand.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • Mostly, I think people are fake. Well, what do you expect? The fake world we live in conspires to make us all fakes.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • I wondered about the science of storms and how sometimes it seemed that a storm wanted to break the world and how the world refused to break.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • But love was always something heavy for me. Something I had to carry.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • If you can quit for a day, you can quit for a lifetime.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • Why do we smile? Why do we laugh? Why do we feel alone? Why are we sad and confused? Why do we read poetry? Why do we cry when we see a painting? Why is there a riot in the heart when we love? Why do we feel shame? What is that thing in the pit of your stomach called desire?

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • Another secret of the universe: Sometimes pain was like a storm that came out of nowhere. The clearest summer could end in a downpour. Could end in lightning and thunder.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • I do that with all of my characters. They have one of the flaws I have, and I zero in on that flaw.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • If you want to be a writer, you don’t want to live in a comfortable place.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • I think writing books is a way for me to work out certain issues. I write about what matters to me, always.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • For a moment, I thought of the word happy and it was a word that just, well, it felt like it was visiting me. I knew it wouldn’t last for very long and I’d be sad again and then it would be worse because it’s one thing to be sad and it’s another thing to be sad once you’ve been happy. Being sad after you’ve been happy is the worst thing in the world.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • The heart can get really cold if all you’ve known is winter.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • Absent parents aren’t abusive per se. They’re neglectful. They love in a very imperfect way. There are parents like that, and they do love their daughters and sons, but they’re not parents in the way that we might think of it.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • I wondered if my smile was as big as hers. Maybe as big. But not as beautiful.

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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