"And now the trumpet sounds. The music of the people stirs a revolution".
Excerpt from the legendary poem, "I am Joaquin", written by Rodolfo Gonzalez.
Words that seem to transcend all time and have never rang more true than today…
There is an underground movement, and it's the voice of an entire generation. The Spoken Word Revolution has begun amongst the Latino youth and it has been declared with passion and without fear.
When the word poetry is heard, one is consumed with visions of flowers, coffee shops, berets and happy endings. Make no mistake about it!! Poetry is now spoken word, spitting or slamming truths. It has evolved into a positive outlet for young Latinos to express themselves on everything from the social issues of the day to reminding us of our fundamental essence of humanity.
These young word warriors use a creative tongue to inject verbal venom straight into the heart of the human spirit. Their mission is clear and unwavering. It is simply to MOVE YOU!!! To move you to feel, to move you to think, to move you to react, to move you to get up and do something…. By any means necessary!!!!
As a published poet I, the long rich tradition of Latino poets like Miguel Piñero and Jimmy Santiago Baca would stand in unison to applaud these diverse and inspirational new voices. Young Latinos are writing and slamming impactful and powerful pieces as a way to interpret and deal with sometimes overwhelming challenges they face in their everyday lives. Used as a therapeutic, yet creative form of self-expression, these street poets are finding new ways to light up the darkest of places and find hope where there once was despair.
As sure as my words are on this page, I stand here to bare witness to the undeniable power of this movement. As my journey continues as a Latino Author, I am often invited to speak at many High Schools and Colleges throughout California. I am honored and humbled by the countless students who open my presentations by reading their original spoken word pieces in front of their fellow classmates and faculty. Vulnerable and proud their words demand the undivided attention of the audience and their message fills the room with a deafening silence… This is my testimony!!
Most recently I was moved by the incredibly talented and strong voices rising up from Norte Vista High School in Riverside, Califas….
Norte Vista Senior, Ana Martinez, writes from personal life experience.
Excerpt from her poem "Open your eyes":
"To look at family members being taken away,
while hoping and praying that they'll be okay.
To know the pain of losing a friend,
whose short life came to a hard-hitting end"……
As a fellow poet, enough said!!!!
Brianna Farfan brings her audience to tears with her piece, "I love her she is Mine".
Not for myself but for her,
I love her and she is mine.
No matter what papers show or what they try to prove,
It is not true…
Therefore I will not let anybody not even myself,
Bring her any more pain or sorrow,
That will do nothing but add onto what she already has to carry an her shoulders.
I LOVE HER, I FORGIVE HER, AND SHE IS MINE!
Today, Tomorrow, and yesterday.
I LOVE HER AND SHE IS MINE.
Brianna shares with me the inspiration behind her words. This was her way to reach out to her biological mother. To help her deal and to heal the feelings kept deep inside her.
Senior, Daniel Chavez sat across from me and expressed the pride he feels in his culture when he puts his thoughts in a poem. As his words reached me, the look in his eyes and the passion in his voice allowed me to take comfort in knowing the future of spoken word is in good hands with these young people I proudly call my friends.
Notebooks filled with the written word have become a sanctuary, a place to escape the harsh realities of our underrepresented and often violent communities. Their pens leave drying ink on the page like a poetic bloodline that reaches back to their ancestors and tierra. Their voices speak of familia with dignity and compassion. Their poems speak of life seen through an unfiltered realism and truth resulting in an almost spiritual liberation.
Spoken Word is not something new to the Latino Culture. New York City's Nuyorican Poets Café is universally known as the Mecca of the poetry slam. It has been providing a platform for Latino wordsmiths to spit knowledge and social consciousness for almost forty years. The Nuyorican Poets Cafés stage echoes with the spirit of true poets. To this day poets grace the stage and use voice to tell of community, to tell of their addictions, to tell of their flaws, to tell their story. They do this on their own terms and without regret. The only rule is that "THERE ARE NO RULES"!!! This captures the true beauty of poetry. My personal version of freedom of expression!!!
Slams have now been brought to the mainstream by nationally broadcast television shows like HBO's Russell Simmons Def Poetry. The underground has kicked in the door to America's living room and has placed a hot and spicy bowl of social responsibility in your refrigerators to mentally marinade. An army of young Latino poets like Amalia Ortiz, Flaco Navaya, Lemon and Amalia Del Valle bring a fresh, new and original perspective of our ever-changing culture. Amalia Ortiz uses your television to bring awareness and to educate millions of viewers regarding the ongoing genocide of thousands of Mexican women in her powerful piece titled "Women of Juarez".
Lemon and Amalia Del Valle come through your surround-sound home theater system as they pay homage to one of the legends of Puerto Rican Music Tito Puente. At the top of the collective voices they spit….
"You played high Tito"
"You made me high Tito"
"and you were our KING"
Flaco Navaja is straight rage from the stage as he holds his audience hostage and moves them with "Kids don't play anymore"... "They have the ten crack commandments down pact but can't honor their mother and father", has the same impact as a shot of tequila burning in their chest. Def Poetry has broken down all barriers and stereotypes and has ended up at the pinnacle of the theater world………on Broadway!!
I am a poet. I do slam. I do Move You. I proudly stand on behalf of all Poets when I say…. "We could give a damn if the revolution is televised, as long as it is HEARD!!!!"