We had the good fortune of connecting with Monique Espinoza and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Monique, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I never used to take risks. I lived comfortably, but always felt like I was supposed to be doing something else to fulfill a greater purpose. A few years ago I started to say yes to things that scared me. The first real risk I took was performing my poetry at an open mic, after the first time I was hooked. It felt like a switch turned on and once I started to put myself out there and take chances more opportunities came knocking at my door. I’ve been published in various online platforms, I’ve been able to do fulfilling community based work, and I don’t plan on stopping. Once I started taking risks in my life I began to see how much power I truly had over my happiness.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a poet and teaching artist. It’s taken along time for me to identify as that. I worked 9-5 jobs for most of my adult life until I started taking risks honestly. The more other people and mentors believed in me the more I began to really see my writing as a gift. I’ve gained so much confidence through performing within the community. At first I would frequent one local mic a month then eventually I made connections there and was offered a position as a teaching artist with the Project Lit/ Phonetic Spit. The work that I’ve been able to do as a teaching artist is beyond amazing. I have always known what a big deal passionate teachers are, I’ve had plenty in my life and without them I wouldn’t be here; but to actually hear about my own impact on these teens directly from them….there’s truly nothing to describe that feeling. I love watching my students grow and work through the hard stuff they deal with through their writing. I think the biggest obstacle I’ve had has been overcoming imposter syndrome. The more I put my ideas and writing out there the more things happen obviously and sometimes I don’t realize the work I’m putting in since I enjoy it so much that I stop to take it all in and it almost feels like I don’t deserve it or something. It’s silly but I also know tons of people that deal with the same things. It’s hard to give yourself credit sometimes. The biggest lessons I’ve learned through my journey up until this point is to take risks and make connections. You never know what a casual conversation could turn into. I truly believe that the universe places people in your path for a reason. Especially in the creative community, EVERYONE is connected in some way. It’s beautiful to meet people that inspire you and just get it. Through organic connections like this I’ve also been able to branch out and start my own open mic in Laveen which means alot to me. I’ve teamed up with 3’s Co. Coffee and our first show in February was a hit! Unfortunately with all of the health concerns currently that is on hold but I’ve been able to continue to create spaces for poets and storytellers on Zoom. If people could take away anything from my story it would be to put yourself out there and believe in yourself, you could have all the support in the world but you have to believe in yourself.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Wow! There’s seriously so many people that have contributed to where I am at right now. My son has and will always be my motivation, without him I don’t think I would work as hard as I do to continue to be the best first of myself. My Phonetic Spit family for sure, they have allowed me so many opportunities to do what I love and have really been a home when I needed support in my craft, life or really anything. They’re all so talented and I’m inspired by every single one of them. Jasmine Fuego has been really important in healing journey and has been a phenomenal friend and mentor. I could keep going, I’m truly blessed with the people I surround myself with so to everyone I love thank you.

Instagram: @_monique__espinoza_ @unlockedphx