Baristanet Profile: Cleyvis Natera

photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan

Name: Cleyvis Natera

Where do you live? Upper Montclair, near Applegate’s Ice Cream Shop

When did you move there? December 2012

Where did you grow up? I was born in the Dominican Republic, migrated to NYC when I was ten and grew up in Harlem and Washington Heights.

How do you make a living? OR What is your everyday passion? After two decades working in the insurance industry, I took a big leap and left my full-time corporate job to pursue my passion for writing. This happened during the great resignation prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic. I sold my book within three months of quitting my corporate job. To be fair, the entire process from concept to publication took fifteen years, but the point is that I now make a living writing books! (edit: Purchase Cleyvis’s debut novel, Neruda on the Park at Watchung Booksellers. There are signed copies, and you can also have it personalized for a gift.)

Coffee, tea or … ? Coffee

What’s your idea of a perfect weekend day? A perfect day starts with a quick run around Brookdale Park followed by snuggles on the couch with my two kids (Julian is nine and Penelope is seven years old) while my husband, Kevin, makes us a delicious breakfast. Then, while the hubs and kids head out to a sporting event, I zoom into a book club to talk about my recent debut novel, Neruda on the Park. At some point, once the kids and hubs are back, there’s a drive into NYC to visit Mami and eat the most delicious Dominican oxtails with rice and beans you can imagine. The kids won’t touch them so I’ll get their helpings, too. Then, in the evening, after the kids are in bed, my husband and I will settle in front of our firepit in our backyard with a glass of wine while music plays, marveling at all our blessings. 

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Samba Montclair on Park!

What’s on your nightstand? Elizabeth Acevedo’s gorgeous visual poem, “Inheritance.”

What are you listening to? Mostly podcasts these days. Books Are Pop Culture, The Stacks Pod, Poured Over, and NPR’s Book of the Day are among my favorites.

What are your current indulgences? This year, I decided to complete 200 workouts on my Peloton app by my birthday (on June 2nd ) and failed by 15 workouts. So now I’m trying to complete it before the end of June. Finding time to exercise consistently feels terribly indulgent in light of a book tour and motherhood and democracy being on the brink of collapse.

What talent you would most like to have? The ability to sing! My children and husband agree.

What’s the worst-kept (or best-kept!) secret about Montclair? This diverse community delivers big time with a big heart.

What do you hope they say about you at your funeral? Cleyvis’ most significant achievement is that she left the world a better place than she found it, and she did so through love – loving her family, loving her community, and loving hard on every sentence in every book she wrote. Also, Cleyvis was able to write many books despite her slow start as a debut writer. “Take that, haters,” were among her last words.

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