Letter to a Younger Me

Young girl,

You never walk alone, just misunderstood.

Yes, you are unique,

But life’s conditions, those are few and we’re all afflicted.

So don’t be scared to tell about yourself,

You’d be surprised when people open about themselves

How much like you they are.

That being said,

Always take their good advice,

And be able to tell wrong from right.

And if you fall get back up,

And if you fail…

Well lets just say, you shouldn’t,

Because every day, every hour, every second,

That’s a second chance.

And if for some reason you look back and feel regret,

Well then that’s a reason to try again.

And once you do that you have no longer failed,

You simply had a minor set back.

As for where you’re going,

You probably don’t know yet,

And if you do,

well I wouldn’t be surprised if the destination changed.

But what I will say is that that’s OK.

Follow your dreams,

Do what makes you happy,

And do all you do with passion,

I know that sounds cliché.

But it’s true,

in life everything falls into place,

even chaos has some order to it.

So in the meantime just be.

Just Be you.

Poetry: Senses of Thanksgiving

5 Senses Thanksgiving Poem

Using their 5 senses, these Latinitas created awesome poems about Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving smells like an abundance of food
Thanksgiving sounds like lots of people talking
Thanksgiving looks like the colors of brown, yellow, orange and red
Thanksgiving feels like prayers and blessings
Thanksgiving tastes like turkey
~Angelica

On Thanksgiving, I tastes like turkey
Thanksgiving looks like fall colors
Thanksgiving feels like hugs
Thanksgiving sounds like singing
~Carol

Thanksgiving tastes like turkey and bacon
Thanksgiving looks like the brown and orange
Thanksgiving smells like a turkey in the oven
Thanksgiving sounds like neighbors
Thanksgiving feels like love and happiness
~Marely

Thanksgiving smells and tastes like turkey
Thanksgiving sounds like laughter
Thanksgiving looks like a family reunion
Thanksgiving feels like love
~Valeria

In Thanksgiving it smells like the fresh turkey on the dinner.
Thanksgiving looks like the beautiful fall with pine cones with the colorful colors.
Thanksgiving feels like warm comfy pajamas.
Thanksgiving sound like the “mmm” of my family.
Thanksgiving tastes like sweet mashed potato.
~Jackie

Happy Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving smells like turkey.
Thanksgiving looks like family having fun.
Thanksgiving feels like warm hugs.
Thanksgiving sounds like family laughing.
Thanksgiving tastes like good food in a good night and happy day.
~Ashley

On Thanksgiving, the family unites and we make ensalada de fruta y bombomes
It smells like fruit and marshmallow salad
I hear my family talking
The colors are orange, yellow and brown
We watch movis
We eat turkey and ham and salad
~Etmi

Thanksgiving smells like pumpkin pie.
Thanksgiving tastes like turkey.
Thanksgiving feels like family united.
Thanksgiving sounds like parrots talking.
Thanksgiving looks like colorful.
~Rossana

In Thanksgiving I smell turkey and pie.
I look at the turkey on the table.
I touch the turkey.
I hear people talking.
I taste the delicious turkey.
~Leslie

Thanksgiving smells like apple pies and turkey baking
Thanksgiving sounds like laughter and conversations
Thanksgiving looks like falling leaves and tables full of family
Thanksgiving feels like family, love, gratitude and blessings
Thanksgiving tastes like turkey, yams, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes
~Alicia

Latinas and Spoken-Word Poetry

Spoken-word poetry, also known as slam poetry, is a type of poetic expression written and performed for an audience. Because they are performed, the poets tend to focus on the rhythm, musicality, and emotional impact of their poems. This type of poetic expression has been weaved into the American arts scene since the 1980s when open-mic performances in cafes became popular in big cities across the nation. Since then, spoken-word poetry has grown in popularity, giving rise to annual competitions such as the National Poetry Slam and the Women of the World Poetry Slam. These competitions attract hundreds of people from all different backgrounds and who have very different experiences and outlooks on life. What brings these poets share in common is that they each have a story to tell and a voice to be heard.

Spoken-word poetry is known for being appealing to people of  different cultures, age groups, and educational backgrounds because it does not necessarily have a scripted style. A slam poem is what the writer wants it to be. With this in mind, we can then turn to the question, What role might spoken-word poetry play in the life of a Latina girl?

“I think spoken-word poetry attracts each Latina’s generation differently. For example, my mother was the first to come to this country with only an elementary educational background…for her the art may be beautiful, but sometimes she’ll question the boldness of the topic I choose to speak on,” says 19-year-old poet Selena Martinez who has been writing since she was 13.

Like many young spoken-word poets, Selena turns to poetry to express her feelings and thoughts about certain experiences in her life that have brought her grief, happiness, and even questions that seem unanswerable. Selena suggests that the generational differences within a Latino family are also something she has found worth speaking about because these differences can sometimes be marked as obstacles to overcome. She says, “[In] a household such as mine…men embraced the machismo and women stuck to the cultural norms. I think spoken-word is a way to help us evolve beyond those expectations to voice stories that [need] to be heard.”

Another young Latina poet, Sofi Chavez, age 19, acknowledges that she too looks to writing in order to makes sense of her life experiences. “[It] was amazing because I could turn something negative and sad into an experience that I was proud of, and something that I did for myself,” states Sofi as she reflects on her first open-mic performance, which revolved around a poem that was initially inspired by angry feelings. However, Sofi is proud that she is able to draw from these emotions and create something beautiful that others can appreciate as well.

When it comes to creative expression and performance, there is always the question of who or what can be identified as the inspiration. Both Selena and Sofi make it known that relatives of theirs originally inspired them to write and perform, for Selena it was her cousin and for Sofi, her sister. However, the situation varies for each young Latina writer. For instance, a great many young writers who have taken on spoken-word poetry have noted that they found out about this style of poetry mostly from peers and/or YouTube. It has come to the point where hundreds of videos of world-famous slam poem performances have been posted on YouTube and can be watched by virtually anyone. One Latina spoken-word poet whose YouTube videos have likely served as inspiration for countless Latina writers is Denice Frohman. Frohman began performing in college in the early 2000s and is best known for winning the 2013 Women of the World Poetry Slam. A performance of Frohman’s poem “Accents” was recorded and uploaded onto YouTube, and this video alone has received over 180,000 views in the past two years. Latinas across the country have sung praises for Frohman and been inspired by the way she so boldly speaks about her culture and family.

Selena Martinez adds on a young adult’s perspective, commenting on the personal growth that one may experiences as a result of practicing spoken-word: “When people can challenge norms, propose unusual questions and express it with all their body, confidence begins to grow…your character transforms mentally, spiritually, and physically. There’s no way you’ll ever be the same person again.”

“Write even when you think you have nothing special to say…The only way you’ll get to the poem that you’re proud of is to practice,” advises Sofi, who acknowledges that she still has a lot to learn about writing and performing, but is not going to let that stop her from putting herself out there. It is evident that these women practice poetry not only to empower themselves but to send an empowering message to their audienceas well. Finding the strength in one’s voice is one of the main reasons why these women chose to practice spoken-word poetry and encourage others to do so.

The World of Poetry Slam

girl w/microphoneThe saying goes that the pen is mightier than the sword. Poetry slams take that concept pretty literally. A poetry slam is a battle of words and rhyme, all to win the hearts—and the high scores—of the judges.

Poetry slams started in Chicago in 1984. Since then, they have spread all over the United States and all over the world. Ireland holds the annual All Ireland Poetry Slam. Competitions can range from local open-signup events to national competitions where qualifying or an invitation may be required.

Regardless of the level of competition, the structure of slams stays pretty similar. Before the showcase begins, a few judges are randomly chosen from the audience. They will be responsible for assigning a score from 1 to 10 for each performer. The competitions are usually divided into rounds with a few poets being eliminated each time. The poets preform a poem that they have written, usually from memory. Poets have three minutes to impress the judges and going over the time will result in a penalty.

The poems and the poets are the real stars of these competitions. Poetry competitions allow them to show off their writing and their bravery to the entire audience. Slam poetry ranges is style and delivery but is made to be read out loud like a high-stakes version of spoken word. Poems can have the rhythm and rhymes of hip hop or they can be fast-spoken rants with emphasis and timing. Slam poetry is all about the delivery. Poetry topics can be political or emotional or just funny. They are usually inspired by life. Slam thrives off of everyone’s uniqueness.

Slam contestants cover a whole spectrum of ages. Recently there has been a rise of a youth poetry slam movement for young people only. Poetry can be an educational tool, a method of self-expression, and a confidence boost. The Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam is on its 19th year in San Francisco. Spoken word and slam poetry is being taught in schools. Slam competitions and open mics are featured in television shows like ABC Family’s The Fosters. Teenagers share their poetry on YouTube for their followers and fans. There are many ways to get involved in the poetry slam world.

University of Texas at Austin student Arati Warrier, 21, has been a part of competitive poetry teams and competed in the Texas Grand Slam last year. She said poetry was always been a part of her life but slam opened up a new dimension of the art for her.

”Writing has always been an important tool for me to cope, vent, live,” Warrier said. “Slam poetry saved my life. To be able to share my work with a community, to watch poets get free on stage and to experience it myself, has been nothing short of religious experience for me.”

For Warrier, slam poetry is a safe place to be bold and explore her life through performance.

“It’s inspiring and cathartic to push my art forward with people who care and feel so deeply,” Warrier said.  “I’m lucky for everything spoken word and slam poetry has given me: better writing skills, empowering performances, and my best friends.”

With a strong following of poets and performers, poetry slams may be around for quite a while. New competitions are popping up in cities all of the time. It may be a relatively new art form, but it has a lot to offer.

Girl Power Poems

What does girl power mean to you? Latinitas sound off to describe what it means to be a powerful chica with these acrostic poems.  Girl writing

Grateful
Intelligent
Respectful
Loyal
Powerful
Outstanding
Winner
Excellent
Remarkable
– Erica

 

Great
Intelligent
Respectful
Loyal
Positive
Obedient
Woman
Excellent
Responsible
– Angelina

 

Great
Independent
Respectful
Loving
Pretty
Opportunities
Wonder Woman
Excellent
Responsible
– Kiara

 

Gorgeous
Incredible
Respectful
Loving
Powerful
Outgoing
Winner
Eager
Rewarding
– Brianna

 

Girly
Intelligent
Respectful
Leaders
Proud
Outstanding
Winner
Extraordinary
Responsible
– Faith

 

Good People
I’m Respectful
Responsible
Loyal
Powerful
Optimistic
Wild
Energetic
Realistic
– Vianney

 

Grateful
Intelligent
Respectful
Loyal
Powerful
Outstanding
Winner
Excellent
Remarkable – Erica

 

Great
Intelligent
Respect
Love
Powerful
Out spoken
Wonderful
Education
Rights

 

Poem: If We Were All the Same

Polet Espinoza

Polet Espinoza

Have you ever wondered?

What life would be like,

If we were all the same.

What would be exciting about life

If we were all the same?

Never learning new things,

Never seeing new things,

Never doing new things,

That would be a waste of a lifetime.

If we were all the same,

How could you know the difference among us?

No one would be special

No one would stand out.

Why would you like to be the same,

When you have the chance

To be different.

Pharr Away

Photo Credit: Flickr, mylitocupcake

Photo Credit: Flickr, mylitocupcake

By Sara Cabrera

I eat menudo and barbacoa
with a fresh warm packet
of Guerrero tortillas
on Sunday mornings after mass.
After, I drive at 3 mph down the
bumpy Raul Longoria Road
to go to La Pulga de Alamo
and to beat
the Rio Grande Valley heat.
There I buy verduras y frutas frescas
and of course some Mexican candy.

I explored my granny’s backyard,
which reached the chin of Africa
to the most northern part of Canada.
My brother and I
were evil scientists and made our secret lair
in the luscious shrubs farthest from mom and dad;
making poisonous potions from water de la mangera
and crushed exotic flowers that danced in the yard
with names too fancy to remember at seven.

I chased lizards
up and down the old mesquite tree,
that met its final battle in ’08
against hurricane Dolly.
The tree used to serve as a clubhouse,
now Dad just uses it to make BBQ.

I celebrate Christmas
on December 24th, not the 25th.
Celebrations with tamales, pozole,
buñuelos, and who can forget the
posadas. I have two birthdays,
the day I was born, y el día de mi santo.

Poetry: I Am Beautiful

I am beautiful by Yazmine S.
I am beautiful because
Of my hair color.
I am beautiful because
I am nice.
I am beautiful because
Of my eye color.
I am beautiful because
I have curly hair.
I am beautiful because
I have friends.

I am beautiful by Perla M.
Beautiful
Eager
Awesome
Usually Random
Totally friendly
Independent
Funny
Unique
Love my family
That’s why I am beautiful

I am beautiful by Dania C.
I am beautiful because
Of my eyes.
I am beautiful because
Of my hair.
I am beautiful because
I am short.
I am beautiful because
Of my smile.
I am beautiful because
I am nice.
I am beautiful because
I am funny.
I am beautiful because
Of my name.
I am beautiful because
I am smart.
I am beautiful because
I go to school.
I am beautiful because
I like dancing.

I am beautiful by Samantha D.
I am beautiful because
Of my eyes.
I am beautiful because
Of my hair.
I am beautiful because
I am Mexican.
I am beautiful because
Of my height.
I am beautiful because
I am nice.
I am beautiful because
I am awesome.
I am beautiful because
I can type.
I am beautiful because
I am proud of how I am.
I am beautiful because I am me!

I am beautiful by Liliana A.
I am beautiful because
I like to help people.
I am beautiful because
I have long hair.
I am beautiful because
I am tall.
I am beautiful because e
I have black eyes.
I am beautiful because
I can sing.
I am beautiful because
I can dance.
I am beautiful because
I can draw pretty.
I am beautiful because
I like soccer.
I am beautiful because
I am smart.
I am beautiful because
I go to school.

I am beautiful by Isabel R.
I am beautiful because
Of my eyes.
I am beautiful because
I have nice hair.
I am beautiful because
I am smart.
I am beautiful because
I am somewhat tall.
I am beautiful because
I am nice to people.
I am beautiful because
I have a big hand.
I am beautiful because
I have a beautiful nose.
I am beautiful because
I have two nice ears.
I am beautiful because
I run fast.
I am beautiful because
I like reading.

I am beautiful by Abby A.
I am beautiful because
Of my eyes.
I am beautiful because
I am short.
I am beautiful because
Of my smile.
I am beautiful because
I am nice.
I am beautiful because
I can sing.
I am beautiful because
Of my grades.
I am beautiful because
I am cute.
I am beautiful because
I like cheerleading.

I am beautiful by Salama L.
I am beautiful because
I am a good person.
I am beautiful because
I like school.
I am beautiful because
I am funny.
I am beautiful because
I have a lot of friends
I am beautiful because
I am smart
I am beautiful because
I like food.
I am beautiful because
I like to hear music.
I am beautiful because
I like to paint.
I am beautiful because I am beautiful.

I am beautiful by Samantha C.
I am beautiful because
My eyes are as green as grass.
I am beautiful because
I have short hair.
I am beautiful because
I am tall.
I am beautiful because
I can draw.
I am beautiful because
I love animals.
I am beautiful because
I love dogs and cats.
I am beautiful because
I have brown hair.
I am beautiful because
I smile a lot.
I am beautiful because
I am nice.
I am beautiful because
I love my family.

I am beautiful by Elizabeth L.
I am beautiful because
I have straight hair and a unique color of eye.
I help people when I can and I never make people feel small.
I am very clean and neat.
I don’t care what people say, I don’t judge people because I don’t need to.
I’m beautiful because I never talk about people behind their backs that’s why I am beautiful.

Poetry: Seasons

Winter

by Audrey Rodriguez, age 12

Knit sweaters blocking out the cold air,
Christmas cheer for all to share

Crisp snow dancing down from the sky,
like dandy ice skaters that pass me by.

Hot cocoa to chug
and snowmen to hug

Snow angels pressed into the ground,
sledding down a huge mound!

Santa Claus spreading smiles,
as his elves walk down store aisles.

Icicles fall and make a racket,
as little kids watch in warm jackets

New Year resolutions come and go,
as if they were cookie dough.

Autumn

by Audrey Rodriguez, age 12

Colorful leaves fall from the trees,
rustling in the wind with ease
cold that chills me to the bone,
as i walk all alone
my breath suspended in midair,
frozen by the arctic air.

Festive jack-o-lanterns adorn porches
scaring vampires away with torches
candy found in every home,
hyper children sure to roam.

Families gathering together
around a turkey no matter the weather
Filled with stuffing and great times,
the thanksgiving turkey is worth the dime.

 

Poetry: Friendship

Latinitas write about the meaning of friendship in these poems about their BFFs.

Jennifer

Fresh
Responsible
Interesting
Endless
Nice
Delight
Shine
Hope
Independent
Promise

 

Friends

Friends are kind,
friends are cool and awesome,
Friends are loving,
Friends are family,
friends are the best
known.

Whats a ship that never ends?
Friendship

Friends never leave you alone. They respect you and love you.

 

Danielle G

Freakishly adorable
Respectful
Enriches you with happiness
Enormously friendly
NEVER mean
Dash of crazy
Surprisingly Weird
Hilariously funny
Incredibly Awesome
Perfect in EVERY way

 

Friends

Friends are nice they’re never mean
They’re the best I’ve ever seen.
They make me laugh, they make me cry,
But do you see the sparkles in my eyes?
When you hug me every time,
You make me happy when I’m gray
But there’s just one thing I have to say.
You are the fruit to my loop the ice to my cream,
Most important the best to my friend,
I know you tell me again and again that you’re not right
But that’s a lie ’cause you’re my friend!
I know you toast I love you too
But it’s my turn now I love you most.

 

Anahi T

Funny
Respectful
Is always there for me
Energized
Never lets me down
Danielle
Supportive
Helpful
Is always there to make my day
Playful

 

A friend to me is a person who is always there.
A friend to me is someone who respects you.
A friend to me is someone supportive.
A friend to me is someone who cares for you and make you laugh.

 

Arianna

Funny
Responsible
Is always nice
Energetic
Dancing
Spinning
Happy
Is gorgeous
Pretend she’s nice

 

Friendship
Caring for each other.
Like each other.
We are bff’s
Play together.