Manuel Paul Lopez reads an excerpt from his book The Yearning Feed (2013) in front of a student-heavy audience, December 7, 2023. Photo by Eve McNally/City Times Media
Manuel Paul Lopez reads an excerpt from his book The Yearning Feed (2013) in front of a student-heavy audience, December 7, 2023. Photo by Eve McNally/City Times Media

Professor, writer Manuel Paul López encourages City College students to pursue creative writing

The community college graduate is an inspiration to students

In front of an audience of students and faculty, San Diego City College student Dalia Lopez stood up to speak. 

“It’s not a question, but it’s a comment,” Lopez said.

“I already knew how much of a badass professor you are … but it was amazing hearing you read something you wrote,” said the 23 year-old counseling major, “and it just made me see another perspective of you.”

She was addressing her English professor Manuel Paul López during a Q&A which followed a reading of his published works and a presentation on creative writing opportunities available for students at City College. 

The Dec. 7 event was co-sponsored by World Cultures and the Puente Project, an academic preparation program for educationally disadvantaged students interested in exploring the Latinx/Chicanx experience, of which Professor López is co-coordinator. 

Professor López read from a few of his books, including his newest release “Nerve Curriculum.” 

“Nerve Curriculum” tells stories in a number of different poems and scenes, the product of Professor López “flirting” with theater, drama, and plays. 

The longer play in the book, “Los Kioskos”, deals with the climate catastrophe through the eyes of three anonymous Kiosk workers at a seemingly abandoned stadium.

Unsure if their work of tending to event patrons can continue without the attendees, the three kiosks workers engage in vibrant and visionary conversation against an apocalyptic landscape of an abandoned lot. 

“Within these little containers, we have these highly imaginative individuals,” Professor López said about the kiosk workers.

It goes to show, he continued, that “even despite a lot of the tragedies, a lot of the catastrophe, whether environmental, whether political, whether war–you know all of those things–there’s still the imagination that we maintain.” 

Professor López grew up in El Centro and opened with a slideshow of his hometown to contextualize his background and how it has influenced his writing.

He recalled spending hours at the library on hot days, “trying to impress the librarians” with his large stack of books.

A former community college student, Professor López named his time at Imperial Valley College as the most formative time in his higher education journey. 

Dalia Lopez self-described herself as formerly “not interested in English,” but said she had to take an English class because it was required for the Puente Program. 

 After being in Professor López’s class this semester, Dalia Lopez’s perspective changed. 

“English is to get to know yourself better,” Dalia Lopez said. “I thought it was just to read and to read other people’s stories, but he made me wanna connect to these characters.” 

Dalia Lopez credits “Chola Salvation, a book assigned by Professor López, in particular for having an influence on her.  

Dalia Lopez shared gratitude both for her English class and the Puente Program, which Professor López advocates for. 

“Coming to Puente made me realize, like, wow I’m not just here as a statue,” Dalia Lopez said, “I have a voice and having him as a professor has had a big impact on my life. 

Dalia Lopez has aspirations to continue writing creatively and will be taking English classes in the future. 

Professor López closed the event by sharing opportunities for students to pursue and share their writing at City. This included encouraging students to take creative writing classes and submit to City Works Journal for an opportunity to have their work published. 

The ”Nerve Curriculum” author emphasized the importance of writing classes for two reasons: building community with other writers and working under deadlines. 

For more information on creative writing classes offered at City College, students can visit

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