Writers Must Provide Space for Writers

¡Hey Mi Gente! Time we got started (I know I am like 2 weeks late, but well, its only two weeks) on this week's blog post.  Slowly reformatting, so if you like what you are reading, PLEASE LET ME KNOW.  I think at this point, I might have like 4 people that read this!  Ja ja ja!    Maybe I should be more consistent... 


So this past Friday night, I did something I had never done before:  I organized a poetry reading for teens. I organized a poetry reading for kids I am directly involved with.  I organized a reading for kids I teach.  I've always been a part of teen readings in one way or another, but I don't think I have ever tried to put one together - I guess I never thought of it before.  I think I was always trying to keep my poetic life and my work life separate, but now, well. I don't know if I can do that.   There is too much need for this. 

I currently work at Cristo Rey Jesuit College Prep in Houston, TX.  Its a damn good job.  I teach college readiness for 10th grade and one class for Seniors, an "Authors of Color" class for English IV.   Its a beautiful course. Its a human course.  Its an opportunity to engage my student population with material that is all too relevant to their lives.  The majority of the kids are responsive as hell all the time and those that aren't too too engaged become engaged at peak moments.  They write short stories. They write pantoums,. They read. They discuss. They ask visiting authors questions about their lives and their work and their struggle.  They make me proud.  

At the beginning of the year, I gave them a survey.  I had guessed correctly about their lack of experience in reading AOC (Authors of Color) and added in two questions - I essentially asked if they had ever been to a poetry reading and if I could get them to one, would they be interested.  100% of them said no, they had never been to a reading  and 100% of them said they were interested.   So, knowing I couldn't take them to a poetry reading in the city, I decided, let me bring the reading to them.  It worked.  It worked ¡como una chulada!  Seriously. I figured its a Friday night, after a long week, I wouldn't get more than 20 kids and maybe 3 teachers.  BOY WAS I WRONG.  

There were over 50 kids. There were over 10 teacher and staff and we had guests from outside the school. We had parents.  We had poets.  We had my dear friends in a new space sharing their words with children who hung on their words with awe.  We had a crowd who actually engaged in the words (I think).  Not many left.  We had an amazing DJ who did the damn thing in  amazing form.  We had a student journalist who took photos, who introduced himself to the poets. We had a beautiful space.   And I? I finally did something I have never done in my life. I opened the door to all the spaces between me the teacher and me the writer.  I amalgamated my roles, as host, as organizer, as teacher, as activist, as writer, as workshop host.  I don't think I could have done this any better.  I don't think the kids or even the other poets know what having them all there in one space meant for me.  

Somebody pinch me.  I'm dreaming.  I won't take it for granted.  I got to hear the amazing words of colleagues and their stories and at the same time, hear questions from my students asked to us, about our craft, about how we got our starts, about how we find the reason to write (muse).   I only hope these kids, these parents, these teachers go and tell the rest of this community why this needs to be a thing.  I envision a reading now, instead of one with 6 poets from the city, maybe two and then turn the mic over to the students.   My hat goes off to Jasminne, to Marlon, to Dulcie, to DEEP, because they are years ahead of me in working with teens and giving them space to write and create and share.  Yes I am slow, but we all gotta start somewhere right?  Go Lions! 

All that's left to do is change gears. Continue this work and build other things... 


St. Paul's Methodist and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston host "THEY SAY" in celebration of the poetry collection edited by Dr. Mathew Russell and my boy, Marlon Lizama.  - March 4th @ 7pm.   

U of H, Feb. 25th, Thursday at 5PM

The HOUSTON VIP - "GRAND SLAM"  Feb. 27th @ 7:30 - Brazilian Arts Foundation

So that's it.  Let me know what you think!! 
Now for the tease...