Spotlight on Sarita Sol Gonzalez

saritasolmemeWhen I first met Sarita Sol Gonzalez (she must have been ten years old at the time), I remember being wrapped up in silent awe at the strength and earthquaking power such a young girl could exude. I, quite honestly, envied her, in that “I want to be Sarita when I grow up” kind of way; y’know the kind of envy that isn’t all green monster, all consuming? It was simply the “this girl is amazing and I’m going to step aside, but maybe hold her hand, lift it up, and shout her name from Sandia mountaintops just so everybody knows how amazing she is, too.”

Not that she needed much help in that. Her voice is one that carries without assistance, and her hands are held high enough on their own, with all the character of a young girl, now turned into a young lady, who speaks without shame or hesitation. Sarita Sol is my every wish for the future of performance poetry come true, not only because she performs with such character, but because she speaks with so. much. truth.

Perhaps this is because she doesn’t adhere herself to “slam trends”; instead, there is a constant flow of themes like ancestral and cultural pride, identity, evolution and change, and more, in Sarita’s writing. She speaks her truth, with a beautiful mix of metaphor and imagery, but as a youth writer, she isn’t just representing herself, or her community, but an entire slew of youth poets to come. Of course, you hear “raw talent” and “prodigy” thrown around a lot when it comes to youth poets, and this certainly isn’t a discredit to any who wear those words pressed to their hearts or allow them to escape their lips, but when it comes to Sarita, I wholeheartedly believe those words entirely apply. She has a whole list of accolades that support that, including being Swimming With Elephants Publications’ youngest author! 41sO02dIKJL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

Perhaps the most amazing thing about Sarita is that she began writing when she was seven years old — I, myself, have an eight year old who loves writing the most imaginative and silly illustrated stories, so I can only imagine the world through a seven-year-old-Sarita’s eyes. Now, at thirteen, she is still one of the youngest active members of the Albuquerque poetry community and, needless to say, she continues to absolutely slay, not only in her writing, but what she uses her writing and her voice for: community outreach, female empowerment, and, really, just utter divinity.

Some call her an old soul, but I call her a walking goddess of dreams come true. And for this, I still want to be Sarita Sol Gonzalez when I grow up; but I guess (considering I am what most consider to be grown already) I’ll settle on watching her grow up, and supporting her every effort to make her own dreams come true. And (here’s the selling point), you can, too! So won’t you consider donating to her education?

Or better, still, buy her book, so you can support her and dive deeply into the magical world of her writing. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

 

 

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All Things Grow… even in the crisp autumn cold.

Lately I find myself in a transition phase of recognizing where my own trauma and anxieties end and I begin. This poem, “All Things Grow” by Lydia Havens, performed with Kate Noel, at this summer’s National Poetry Slam in Denver, paid tribute to that transitional phase; and while I didn’t get a chance to see the poem performed in person, I read reactions to it left and right and, upon reading it (and seeing the video), felt a growth inside of myself.

I believe that’s the true meaning of poetry: feeling yourself grow and flourish in the moment, alongside another person, because of another person’s experience and words. I think there’s something especially enchanting about poems like that, and furthermore something enchanting about Lydia — they have this remarkable talent of being explicit and raw and shaping it into something beautiful, something that… grows, far beyond the usual expectations of what one thinks of when they walk into a poetry slam. And that might be one of my very favourite things about Lydia Havens as a writer, too: they are so far beyond the typical slam artist. Instead, they are the true definition of a poet. In a few brief words, they are walking, talking, magical, lizard-y poetry themselves.

“All Things Grow” by Lydia Havens, performed with Kate Noel

bless every poem about trauma,
& struggle, & loss i have written
thus far, for getting me this far.
bless all the space they needed to take up. bless them for knowing
when to step away.

bless all the songs i cannot
listen to anymore because
nostalgia & association will be
the death of me. bless the fact
that i am not dead yet. bless
the fact that i don’t know
where my abuser is anymore,
and i am okay with that.

it doesn’t mean i’ve forgiven him,
but it does mean i’ve forgiven myself.

bless my mother for believing me.
bless my mother for driving me
to all the psych wards, then picking me
back up after discharge. bless
my mother for believing in me.

bless my friends for carrying me home.
bless my friends for making me a home.
bless the city of Boise. bless all the light
it gives us, even at night. bless all
the rivers, even when they want
to overflow. bless the scars on my arms
that faded, and the ones on my face
that didn’t. bless all the ways i spill
like metal secrets against the floor.

bless the glitter always on my hands,
and the becoming. bless the way
my hair is growing out. bless the meds
that worked until they didn’t. bless the way
i never stopped working.

bless the fact that once, i thought
i didn’t know how to write a happy poem.
so bless all the cliches i am learning to love
because i like being a happy person
more than i like being a good writer.
bless vulnerability. bless bravery.
bless whatever it is i’m doing right now,

because everyone that’s ever hurt me
has tried to make me quiet—drown me
in the frantic water i just learned how
to endure. this is not a survival song.
this is the song I sing because I’ve survived.
the opportunity for the joy i have always deserved,
because i have always deserved to take up space.

that’s all. that’s all.

(text posted with permission)
You can visit Lydia’s website, here, and further support them by buying their book, “Survive Like the Water” and, of course, watch the video performance of “All Things Grow” again and again.
Don’t forget to follow them on instagram for magical selfies, and on twitter for more updates about poetry and their life in Boise.