Para bailar la Bomba con Acentos y Perdomo.

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.

6 thoughts on “Para bailar la Bomba con Acentos y Perdomo.

  1. I have never been to an Acentos workshop and really wanted to go to that one and meet Willie!!! (He is using my painting of him as his FB profile picture and I am so honored)

    I think we create because we have to primarily. Our individual thoughts and voices need an outlet through some sort of expressive form.. pero we get caught up in who would want to hear or see whatever from me. We think to ourselves, there are millions of others out there that do what I do, so why even think beyond this work ending up as more than just a hobby. We forget that ones we admire fought that same internal battle at some point. They broke barriers so we could run with it!

    • “We forget that ones we admire fought that same internal battle at some point. They broke barriers so we could run with it!”

      So true, I recently listened to Julia Alvarez say that when she was writing In the Time of The Butterflies she felt that fear, that insecurity and pushed past it.

  2. GOOD SHIT, GABBY! YES!

    I knew that the initial response from some people would be, “Who the fk does this chick think she is? YOU CRAZY? Plath & Dickinson?” Can I ever attain such a level? I don’t know, but I can certainly aspire to greatness, to hone my craft, to read, absorb, learn, embody that spirit, the passion and love of creating and and be proud of whatever comes of my dedication. Who amongst us will be the great American poets? Who will win awards, be taught in schools, be found in homes across America. I dunno, but it’s fun to have lofty goals and dream. When I was little I wanted to be a princess. Now I just want to touch lives, possibly even change lives, through my writing and what I bring to the world. Love u, Gabs. You are brilliant and I believe so strongly in your voice and what you are doing. Thank you for allowing me to be part of your journey. ❤

  3. I’m so happy that I found your blog today! I enjoyed this post especially. You see, I would say those things that Jani said and I’ve been met with similar attitudes as if I’ve said them b/c I’m arrogant, b/c I think I’m better than what I am or worse, better than others around me. But it was NEVER that way…I am ALL LOVE and brutal honesty and I ASPIRE to be better…better than myself yesterday! Like you, Gabby (if I may), I am totally candid, and like Jani, I want to reach for the stars and catch what I can coming down and more so, I want to, NEED TO share.
    I taught high school for 10 years and, among the many lessons I tried to share with my students, I told them to BE PROUD and TAKE RISKS! Get over people who tell you that you’re conceited and try to shame you for confidence and hope! No one’s success needs to lesson anyone else, so what’s arrogant about that?
    You girls are young…that’s FABULOUS! The world is yours! Take it and NEVER, EVER be ashamed of dreaming big! I became a young mom right after graduating college and I’ve focused my life on being a mom for the passed 18 years…it was a great way to get a do-over for my own childhood. Now, at 40, I’ve been telling my teens not to settle and realized that I needed to show them by example, so I’m on my way again.
    Great post!

    • thank you for commenting first and for saying you were happy to find my blog.
      girl that put a big smile on my face during an otherwise grumpy morning.
      🙂

      i think what hit me about jani is that she actually SAID those words like outloud, to hear what i’d just been daydreaming about thrown into a real world context, just kinda shook me up.

      a good shake up is always nice, right?

      and it’s funny because I tell my little cousins that this world belongs to them in every possible way and yet sometimes i find myself getting crushed n jaded by the enormity of it.

      so anyway, i am with you. no settling or backpedaling.

      and, we have to always remember to write about the times we messed up, or got jealous or were confused or vulnerable and not just when we’re awesome, you know?

      ok u got me rambling. thanks 4 the love.

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