ON November 16, 2014, Andrés Ordorica landed into Dublin airport. The flight from San Antonio was relatively smooth. The journey towards his current landing place has been less tranquil for the 32-year-old Latinx poet.

As we sit in a hushed corner of the ­Gallery Bar in Summerhall, ­Edinburgh, Ordorica’s adopted city, the poet ­discusses his aspirations for a “more ­inclusive” independent Scotland, while reflecting on the complexities of ­integrating his identity as an immigrant and queer person of colour into his debut collection, At Least This I Know.

In the opening lines of the ­collection, published last month by Scottish ­publishers 404 Ink, the reader is met by a poetic stand-in for Ordorica. In a blend of comic irreverence and painful desperation we see him offer allegiance to any national or cultural group ­offering shelter (Scots, Nut Milk Drinkers, Bears, Vegans and Nuns Back in the Habit are all included). He’s “throwing out a ­fishnet to the world”, Ordorica relays in a West Coast US accent inflected with the rhythms of his Spanish speaking ­family.

Born in South Dakota into a military household, Ordorica spent his youth ­stationed in far-flung continents. His grandparents, immigrants from ­Mexico in the 1960’s, stayed anchored in ­Northern California. Since settling in ­Edinburgh, Ordorica has found the rootedness so achingly sought by his ­poetic-self in ­November 16th, 2014.

Set in the year of Scotland’s own ­battle with self-governance, the poem might be read as a meditation on the ­independent Scotland to which the poet aspires: a ­culturally progressive nation that is equally “ready to interrogate its ties to a colonial past” as it is to harvest a greener future.

The National: Andres Ordorica - photo credit: Daniel McGowan.

The poem, which takes its title from the poet’s arrival date into ­Ireland, also ­operates as satirical enactment of the “overwhelming” experience ­Ordorica encountered navigating EU and UK ­immigration systems. The ­process (fraught with as much anxiety as ­paperwork) eventually saw Ordorica reunite with husband, Kevin Guyan, 32, a researcher and writer from Aberdeen, whose own debut book Queer Data was published by Bloomsbury earlier this year.

There is a rawness to the auto­biographical nature of Ordorica’s work. The collection documents the ­chronology of his evolution as a poet and person (the earliest poem was written when ­Ordorica was just 14; the most ­recent only last year). In places, the youthful voice it captures might be taken for ­artistic ­inexperience. The title poem, for example, is lynch-pinned by stock images – “snow-capped hills”, “wide lakes”, “green seas”, ­“waters blue” – pictures pulled straight from a children’s atlas.

In other works, such as Four Men, which draws compelling vignettes of a young queer man mapping his ­sexuality through casual hook-ups (identified only by London place names), the ­speaker’s tender juvenility keenly ­exhibits the ­poet’s commitment to utilise raw ­experience in his work.

“Vulnerability”, he believes, is “a ­brilliant tool for an artist”. Outside his writing, the poet is “very reserved” he admits, pulling his arms across his chest in a telling self-embrace. Save for his hot orange and coco-coloured sweater, his posture is not unlike the collection’s cover image: a naked male torso with folded arms drawn in burnt orange hews by illustrator Holly Ovenden. Though his body is heavily featured in his work, it is his soul he bares, Ordorica tells me – a ­poetic strategy aligned with his aim to write with “authenticity”. The ­contemporary buzzword peppers the poet’s ­dialogue. For Ordorica, it is not lightly used, but rooted in his desire for the collection to “resonate with the reader that it needs to”.

By exposing his own vulnerability, the artist hopes that queer-identifying ­people might “see themselves at different ­moments, because”, he adds with lyrical attentiveness, “your relationship with your identity, any identity, can change.”

Ordorica didn’t set out to write about identity politics, he is quick to note, though his political perspectives emerge throughout. (Ordorica’s God is a gender-neutral “They”). Elsewhere identity politics are explored formally. The poster poem Word Association: Gay visually mimics an online thesaurus. Among its synonyms are “lonely”, “searching”, “incomplete”. “Brave” and “sinful” also make the list. Perhaps most telling is “erstwhile”. Although Ordorica advocates for individual autonomy over self-identification, he celebrates the “communal aspect” of queer identity within the LGBTQ+ community.

“So much of my life has been about trying to find community and feeling in the margins,” he says, “so maybe it’s most about not wanting to silo myself.”

The poet speaks with sensitivity about being part of a global diasporic ­community whose experiences of ­racialisation are regrettably analogous. Other cross-cultural connections offer Ordorica a more positive similitude. The poet sees his own family in tales of Hogmanays gone-by recounted by his Doric-speaking in-laws: the open homes and generous welcome of entire ­communities, none less, Ordorica notes with playful reverence, than the “old wifies … making mince n tatties at 3am”.

His poem Blessings, inspired by ­Orkney poet George Mackay Brown’s The ­Finished House, pivots on this shared communality, only instead of a “fiddle … hung at the wall”, in Ordorica’s finished house a “crucifix [takes] pride of place”. “Mezcal and tecate” are his uisge beatha.

Although Ordorica’s mother tongue is English, and his faith is one of “found-spirituality”, religious motifs and Spanish phrases flavour his work. It’s fitting for a poet who recalls sitting around his grandparents’ kitchen table – English, Spanish, Spanglish flowing between multiple generations with choric fluidity.

The National:

Ordorica’s multilingual poetics (which include the odd Scots colloquialism) are equally influenced by poet Edwin Morgan (above), who weaves English, Scots and Scottish dialect throughout his works without friction. Ordorica’s Neroli Kiss, written with support from the Edwin Morgan Trust, might be read as giving voice to what the late-Makar’s Floating Off To Timor leaves unspoken. Unlike Morgan, a gay man writing through Glasgow’s “rough springtime” – an era where ­homosexuality was a criminal offence – Ordorica’s lovers need not express the tenderness of queer-love through far-off or imaginary distances.

Back in Edinburgh, as the poet heads out to meet the afternoon drizzle, I ­wonder if his next collection will chart another journey: the progress of a nation where all people can freely carry their identities under one national banner.

Wherever the poet is carried to next – be it far-off distances or new poetic ­landscapes – it is certain that with him he’ll bring a voice that strives to live truthfully on the page.