I love poetry- a lot. In fact, because I love poetry so much, I have founded and hosted my own open-mic poetry events since 2003 under the heading “The Fresh Ink Poets”. I love Neruda, Baca, Cisneros, and Serros but the poetry scene for many Latinos is brand new. Poetry can be written and read aloud for a number of reasons. I like to write poetry that captures a moment not only in life, but also in our culture like this one:
Tengo Suenos de la Manana.
Mornings spent waking up to Abuelita
Cooking frijoles refritos with
The breakfast coffee and eggs.
Some Jimmy Dean patties frying in the
Skillet and tortillas ready to be
Flipped on the open fire of the front burner.
Abuelita motions with her chin in a slight
And graceful motion to set the table.
She never broke her singing or her gaze from
The tortillas on the flame.
Abuelita sings in a beautiful voice that sounds
Like a cat purring.
She sings about farm life, lovers lost and gained
Forevers, nevers, always, and stills…
Siempre, nunca, todo via
As I set the dishes
Sweet aromas of coffee and sugar melt to
The sounds of Abuelita’s sweet voice
In my ear.
Aya me canta el mundo.
I breathe deep into my dream,
Music engulfs me.
Waking up is slow and painful.
There are better poets who capture much more than a longing for Gramma. I’m thinking of Corky Gonzales’ poem I am Joaquin as I write this. I am also thinking about people like “The Taco Shop Poets“ out of California that has helped move poetry out of the coffee shops of the 90s and into the streets and households of millions. Poetry can move people and mountains. The Taco Shop Poets held readings at taqaria’s all over LA in order to bring poetry to their neighbors. “Split This Rock Poetry” of Washington D.C. is an annual event that is co-directed by Sarah Browning and Melissa Tuckey and friends. Split This Rock has moved mountains of people and seeks to ensure that poetry and the arts continue because poetry is vital to empowering all people so that they may speak out with confidence against injustice.
“We believe that poets have a unique role to play in social movements as innovators, visionaries, truth tellers, and restorers of language….Our intention is to bridge differences in our city and literary community: to place on the same stage poets who work primarily on the page and poets who write primarily for performance; gay and straight poets; African American, Latino, Asian, white, and Native poets; young poets and older poets; poets with disabilities; poets of all social classes.” ~Split This Rock Poets, in the name of justice for all
by Viktoria Valenzuela