Quiara Alegría Hudes on Writing Through Grief and Joy (A Latino USA POdcast

Mar 29, 2023
12:42 PM
Originally published at Latino USA

Playwright and author Quiara Alegría Hudes (Courtesy of Gregory Costanzo)


For Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes, bringing her family’s stories to the stage is an act of healing.

Quiara has been writing for the stage for over 20 years, and her work often draws from her family’s experience of living in West Philadelphia in the late 1980s and ’90s. Her play Water By The Spoonful, which looks at themes of war, trauma, and addiction, won the 2012 Pulitzer prize.

Quiara worked alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda to write the book for the musical In The Heights and later wrote the script for its film adaptation. But in the fall of 2018, Quiara announced that she would take a break from theater. Tired of a white, male-dominated industry, Quiara turned inward. The result was Quiara’s first memoir, My Broken Language.

“It’s hard for me to remember that I never wept for one of my cousins,” Quiara says. “I didn’t know how to grieve. I think the process of writing them down and memorializing them, breathing new life into their stories—that has been my process of grief, 30 years later. And it is a joyous one.”

In her book, Quiara leaned on her memories of the women in her family, her Philly-Rican matriarchs.

“All my big cousins who were like my goddesses, they were great dancers and they had so much personality and individuality in their moves. And it just brought back hanging out at abuela’s house. The joy was overwhelming.”

In the fall of 2022, Quiara brought My Broken Language to Off-Broadway. It was also her first time directing.

In this episode of Latino USA, Quiara talks about her memoir, adapting it for the stage, and how joy and grief intertwine in the stories she tells.


Latino USA with Maria Hinojosa, produced by Futuro Media, is the longest-running Latino-focused program on U.S. public media.