I’ve been avoiding this entry. I don’t like name dropping or clique-y bullshit. I also don’t like ass kissing or brown nosing or other gag inducing stuff.
I do not have malice in my heart for anyone in my little circle of the world…or even in the world really…
But I like talking about real things…so here we go!
So there’s this writing group hosted by the Acentos Foundation which, according to their Vision statement, ” is a Bronx-based organization dedicated to the development, discussion, and dissemination of poetry and literature by Latino/a writers in New York and beyond.” Every Sunday I go to Hostos College and write with the lovely and talented people of Acentos and other curious writer types and make some magic happen.
The workshops in layman’s terms are pretty fucking awesome. Each week a different facilitator leads the writing group through poetic forms, political discussions and personal revelations to create honest pieces of work. We share them. We talk. It’s cool. I find myself digging deep into what scares, hurts and cripples me. In the middle of all that shit, good work comes out and positive energy…but before I get all hippie-fied, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this post.
In the past two workshops, the facilitators have asked us to tell them about ourselves and our writing. We go around the room, boom bang, this is me and blah blah blah. I doodle and try to keep my ADD together enough to not be twitchy and to remember everyones name.
As we go around the room, it’s Jani Bomba that makes my head perk up. And yes I am talking about Jani and I told her I was writing about her and she said it was “ok” so all of you bochincheras can go sit down somewhere.
She says, “I am Jani and I want my name to be remembered and known with the greats like Plath, Dickinson and that I hope to elevate my writing and be worthy of such a place.”
I looked up and wanted to gag. I thought, “She’s gotta be kidding me, right?” Plath, pshhh, yeah OK, Jani.”
and then I got lost on some Wayne and Garth “we’re not worthy” shit and lost it…
I dismissed her.
I couldn’t get her words out of my head like “how can you just go around saying shit like that?”
“Who does she think she is?”
Then even without my questions or negative feelings, her words stuck inside of me and poked and prodded.
Whenever I have a negative or just straight up shitty thought about someone I love, respect and enjoy as a person, it just makes me feel weird like my energy is off. Why did I feel like that about what she said? Something must be off with me, it’s gotta be me. She was brave enough to say something like that in front of all of us.
Then it hit me, the fucked up gabby part. Sigh, i hate that part.
I didn’t think any of us could be worthy of that type of praise or reverence. Us, me, Latinos, self hate, hood, not British, not white, not wanted….we won’t ever be revered like that…
What the fucking fuck? Did I really just think that?
I surely fucking did, me. I thought that not some generalized white person I imagine fighting the good racial equality fight against but ME.
Why NOT aspire to be Sylvia Plath? to be Isabel Allende? to be F. Scott Fitzgerald???
Why not…I mean…we’re here, right? We are writing and sharing and creating community.
We are laying the groundwork for the incoming latino kids that’ll eventually out number everyone else in this country or at least make up a solid third in the near future.
Isn’t that why we write, act, sing, do politics, get jobs, go to school? We are leaving tracks for them not necessarily to follow but for our future to know that we were here and we did it and our footsteps now belong to them.
Man, I’m getting lofty and soo…
I felt like a mirror shattered over my head and instead of being covered in blood and glass, I was unwounded and free.
And then author, Willie Perdomo , led the Acentos Workshop the next week and asked us the same question. Jani answered the same way and this time I felt her words like a fist in the air, like a strike chant or a motivational mini speech in the middle of a football huddle.
In the workshop, Willie Perdomo asked us to write in response to something. Respond to the world and writers and politics and the fucking life that is happening in our world this very instant. And if I was a better note taker, I might just have a quote from him but I don’t. Someone call Angelique, that girl can take some notes!
Anyway, I don’t need a quote because I still feel empowered and brave enough to do exactly that: respond
So Jani, this has been in response to you and I am honored to have people in my circle that say what they feel and believe in their own words.
I will not let self doubt or internalized self hate or whatever continue to pull me down.
I want to keep responding. Every time one of you inspires me to think or breaks through one of my emotional walls, I want to document it, to document us. To remember and respond.
We will be greater than those that came before us.
We are role models for each other and sources of inspiration and strength right now.
Right in this very moment.
I am so with it.
Am I this much of a hippie?
Fuck right, I am.
Thanks to Acentos for the workshops.
Jani for the bold, ballsy words.
and Mr. Willie Perdomo for pulling a response out of me, especially in my comfortable state of apathy.
yo and to ALL of the beautiful writers, poets, activists etc that make my life and this world such a decadent and awe inspiring place to exist.
It’s not always going to be pretty, friendly or even fun but I’m going to try and just be honest about shit and honest with all of you.
yay latino writer stuff!
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with anything I’ve said? I’d love to hear your thoughts.