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The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

El Grito de Poetas: The Cries of Poets, A Spoken Word Event


Yvonne Chen


We spent one night listening to eleven baring open their souls

Though the stories might belong to others

It made no difference because they had

Internalized them and made them their own

First we welcomed Sebastian

Who’d been collecting his thoughts for eleven months

After his mom passed away

He wanted to share the last part of his 3-stage work

When he paused abruptly we knew why

We encouraged him with solemn finger snaps

Crystal wanted a man to conquer her castle

But still treat her like a princess

Her legs would be

Another twin towers he wanted to shove planes through

She also railed against the three men who wouldn’t pay for dinner dates

She wanted chivalry, chivalry

Ladies first and

Chivalry, chivalry

June found Lucy jaded by love

July found her heart wanting a captor again

August found her trapped, unable to leave, unwilling to leave

September found maybe she wanted someone new

Sammy taught us a new game

Rock paper scissors shoot

Rock paper scissors


Where childhood games mirror life in the hood

Where dodgeball is dodging bullets

Where freeze is yelled by schoolchildren playing tag

And also by cops in pursuit

Manuela told us about obstacles while

Jorge answered the question:

Would you rather cheat

Or be cheated on?

(he chose the former)

With his sister in the audience, Westmore performed

Baring his inner self like an open book, admitting to traits

At times flippant

Like his lack of commitment to one pair of shoes

At times serious

Like his refusal to buy a diamond ring for a future bride

Because he would not pay their blood price

Bryan spoke an open letter to the man he first loved

His absent father

At age 10 his grandmother had to teach him how to throw a baseball


El grito de poetas

Sang forth from four mouths

One was a social studies teacher

(you could also tell from his historical verses)

Whose conversational speech

Fell naturally into the lull of spoken word rhythms

If only my professors lectured like that

Two waltzed in speaking of

Passionate, romantic, sensual


And how Latin dances broke segregation barriers in USA

An accessible universal language of bodies; bailando!

And then about the passionate, romantic, sensual

Primal roots of language which

He equated to primal, passionate, romantic lovemaking

Three, I must admit it was hard to catch his gist

But he crackled on stage like a thunderbolt or firecracker

Sparkling and alive with raw emotion

Dig, he said, dig to reclaim your heritage

Because it has been passed down

On an etch a sketch

From shaky hand

To shaky hand

Four brought us to tears

Of laughter

With lists of ethnic stereotypes

I’m not Mexican because my head isn’t big

I’m lying my head is pretty big

I don’t have six kids

Only four, I’m working on the other two

Then we were touched by

Words of advice to a dear daughter

Don’t let five dollar men fool you with twenty dollar words

My dear

If he says he would rearrange the alphabet to put u and i side by side

Tell him, that sounds German

I don’t do German

A duet poem followed,

The wordsmith teacher and firecracker man

On the universal truth:

I’m only human

We’re only human

Finally all four lined up on stage

One by one they came forward as a mouthpiece

For their ethnic heritages

Each a pastor with a congregation of three murmuring their assent

Who knew his message so well they could echo him

At the conclusion of it all

They do this because, they say,

Latinos need to know

That there are people who look like them doing poetry

That they have a voice

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