Blogging live from the National Poetry Month Celebration in the IRC, which is being held from noon until 12:45 p.m. on Tues., April 28, 2015.
IMSA English teacher Devon Madon opened the poetry read-in by explaining that Latino poetry rejects traditional categories. To illustrate her point, she mentioned guest poet, Michael Reyes, and said that his work doesn’t fit into one category, but is part of a long tradition of Latino poets who explain their own self narrative through their work.
“His poetry is not only art, but a tool for social advancement,” said Ms. Madon.
IMSA students read their favorite poems, some of which were in English and some in Spanish. Evelyn opened the read-in by reading her own poem. One of the favorite selections students chose to read were “Cloud” by Sandra Cisneros and another was an excerpt from “How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents.”
Two students chose poems by Pablo Neruda as their read-in selection.
After all the students read, Michael Reyes came onto center stage, explaining that he performs spoken word poetry that has not necessarily been created for the page.
He asked how many in the audience had been exposed to poetry outside school, for example at open mic night, and then proceeded to talk a little about what he liked and didn’t like about open mic nights.
“For me poetry is a weapon,” said Mr. Reyes, as he explained that many years ago poets were storytellers who passed along the news of the day. Mr. Reyes said that he follows in the ancient tradition of these storytellers.
As part of his introduction to the audience, Mr. Reyes touched on his background, explaining that he is a Chicano who was raised here but has ties to Mexico. He said he is a person of color who has been reflecting on what’s happening in Baltimore (referring to the riots in the city after a black man died in police custody).
Mr. Reyes said that his first piece of freestyle poetry is an interactive piece and he asked audience members to participate by giving him words to use. Okra, smile, laughter, heritage, applesauce, empower, love and teach were thrown out for him to use.
In between performing, Mr. Reyes, shared more about himself with the audience. He said he’s recently moved to Detroit, MI after spending 14 years in Chicago developing creative space for others. He has gone from a “me” poet to a “we” poet who talks about his heritage.
Mr. Reyes will be spending the afternoon at IMSA. He mentioned some of the different venues he performs in, which make up his sphere of influence. Today he’s at a school, this Sat. he’ll perform at his home and then on Sunday he’ll be at a prison.
The audience responded positively to his performance. Mr. Reyes is a hit.
Michael Reyes is described as an artist/organizer on his website, and his “mission is to provide a participatory educational environment through poetry and hip-hop to address issues of social justice and cultural identity.” Adrienne Coleman, an organizer of the National Poetry Month event, chose Reyes, who performs internationally and facilitates educational workshops on the topic of merging creative expression and critical thought.
According to his website, “Reyes’s background as a field worker in Michigan and a community activist in both Chicago and New York has added multiple layers to his Chican@/Latino identity. His work has been featured on HBO, Latin Nation, PBS documentary Dream Makers, Chicago Public Radio, National Public Radio, Pacifica and WBAI.”
“He has performed at 1,500 institutions including: United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, National Council of La Raza, Conference, National Conference on Race and Ethnicity, Latino Ivy League Conference and the NAACP. He has worked with Dr. Cornell West, Lolita Lebron, Dolores Huerta, Oliver Stone, John Leguizamo, and Kanye West.” Reyes was a featured speaker at the National Council of La Raza LIDERES Conference, the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity, and the Latino Ivy League Conference.
IMSA students and faculty have been invited to read original poems and poems written by their favorite authors. The food served during the National Poetry Month celebration will be tied to Cinco de Mayo and feature some food favorites usually consumed on that day.
Come join the fun and celebration in the IRC on April 28, 2015, from noon to 12:45 p.m.
At each entrance into the library, you will find handouts with the URL for the 2015 survey. Take a few minutes to log on and let us know how often you come to the IRC and what you do here most often. Let us know what resources you use the most and what you think of the library’s databases, DVD, CD, magazine and book collections.
Everyone who fills out a survey will be entered into a drawing for one of four gift certificates to Starbucks or Oberweis Dairy.
Your constructive feedback is important to us, but you only have until the end of the day Friday, April 17, 2015 to respond to the survey. So hurry in to the IRC and celebrate National Library Week!
According to the Academy of American Poets, “National Poetry Month is the largest literary celebration in the world, with tens of millions of readers, students, K-12 teachers, librarians, booksellers, literary events curators, publishers, bloggers, and, of course, poets marking poetry’s important place in our culture and our lives.”
As the website poets.org explains, the origins of National Poetry Month began when “the Academy of American Poets was inspired by the successful celebrations of Black History Month (February) and Women’s History Month (March). The academy founded National Poetry Month in April 1996 “with an aim to highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets, encourage the reading of poems, assist teachers in bringing poetry into their classrooms, increase the attention paid to poetry by national and local media, encourage increased publication and distribution of poetry books and encourage support for poets and poetry.”
The IRC celebrates National Poetry Month with a display of books that can be checked out and poetry trivia. If you consider youself a poetry expert, stop by and see how many questions you can answer correctly.
All the books on the display can be check out.