– By artist and workshop leader Regie Cabico:
My second summer semester at Latin American Youth Center brought 16 young adult teens divided into two groups: The Road Runners and The Money Makers. The students were motivated to listen and to share their work in an intimate sunny conference room. My goal is to have students listen to each other, creating a supportive ensemble.
In the lessons I focused on speaking with imagery. In pairs, students asked WHO ARE YOU? I encouraged students to transform themselves into things in nature and to consider that when we “lie” in poetry- we use these “truths” as metaphors, similes and hyperboles. I was blessed to have the in-class support of Abi and Tina, who are naturally gifted writers themselves. Students got to work with their mentors in a collaborative way.
On our second workshop I had Slam Poet Dwayne B. from Metro Teen AIDS perform work to prepare students for the culminating event. Little “T” said it was a highlight. Seeing a resident from Anacostia speak candidly and with humor, highlighting the neighborhood.
Because the students were so in tune with each other I wanted to culminate with an exercise I rarely get to do because it requires, deep self examination of their life and possessions. The prompt is “If I Should Die Tonight,” a powerful way to celebrate life not in the depressed sense.
We listed what our valuable personal attributes, talents & tangible objects of value were along with instructions to the people we cherish, who we leave behind. Courtney has always been supportive of the workshop but she pulled herself into a candid powerful poem.
At the culminating event all the students read their work and Courtney started to write a new poem off the cuff. A lot of these students never saw themselves as poets, but in the course of the workshop, they took the assignment and composed raps and stories. They went inward and gradually got up to stand on stage for the first time.
The poems are small life celebrations, accelerated at the Busboys & Poets poetry reading. Students were asked to remember significant people in their life. Abi got full praise as a teacher. Faith saying, This was the best educational experience of her life. Courtney, said I was mad cool and funny. Here is a small sampling of their work.
This program was made possible by funding from Alternate ROOTS, in partnership with LAYC.
LATIN AMERICAN YOUTH CENTER AUGUST 2017 POEMS
I runaway from your hands
Even when all you did was hold me close
You gave me the proposition that you’d wait
I’ve been told relationships weren’t for me so
picked up that idea and ran with it.
To me a relationship was a waiting fest.
No not that kind
The one where you wait till the other
gives into infidelity
But you held me close
Even when I would hurt you with my words
thorns of a rose.
Now let’s sit down and talk.
Its been 2 years that we’ve been on this
run now let’s walk
now hold my hand.
Our love is never ending like a wrist band.
Even when you feel like all I bring is a fall.
At times we will be lost as if we’re on the road.
But I’ll never give in to the negativity we’re told
Doctor Stupid says,
I am just a girl.
I am the youth.
I am this generation.
I am that outcast
or red in a room
full of white
that you can spot
from a peek of a window.
I am what inspires
the next generation.
But some are cowards
are so chicken
to stand up
You see, I am not your circle.
I am a square.
These adults cannot compare
to what we bring to the table
so go ahead
adults sling your shot.
can make mountains move
We can flip 7 dollars to 70
and that’s a guarantee
We kick aside the hassle
that you adults bring.
We are walking dreams crossing
mountains and bridges with flames.
you can see as if we were dragons.
you see as you sit on toilets.
We are trying
and that’s more
We light a fire
so strong smoke
I am a 17 year old girl with a drive so strong.
I have patience so strong with a mother who’s bipolar.
I don’t believe in the 4 years of college. At the age of 11
I was told I’d start having seizures at the age of 16.
Never once have I had a seizure. I hustle
because I know what it’s like to wonder
where you’ll sleep tonight. I have come across death.
I conquered my pill addiction. I believe in God.
If I should die tonight
tell Lizzy that I’m worth a graffiti.
If I should die tonight tell mama
I made a promise and I kept it.
If I should die tonight let my brother know
I’m sorry I used his paint ball gun and tell him
I always knew where it was.
If I should die tonight tell my whole family thank you for
adopting me into this wonderful life.
If I should die tonight please tell Bonnie,
I’ll always be her Clyde.
If I should die tonight tell my little cousins
that they don’t want to be like me, don’t want to see
all the things I’ve seen.
If I should die tonight
make sure everyone knows that
this time it wasn’t my choice.
that I was ready fro the next
day of life with a different pair
of eyes to be helpful & productive
not incognito and depressed.
If I should die tonight make
sure that my room isn’t dirty.
That’s always been a big thing.
Everything needs to be
in the proper place.
My mom’s number isn’t hard to find.
Maybe you can ask the group home
staff for it, or call the last foster
home I was in or even go to 7***
Cypress Court where her number is
written nicely on the whiteboard that
hangs on the refrigerator in the house
that once was my home.
Just 2 years ago finding her number
wouldn’t be a problem because it
would be under parent/guardian
but now… Maybe not so much.
Make sure she knows all those
missed phone calls
were great conversations
she missed out on.
It’s been a hard day
I’ve been waiting for night
Change out of my street clothes
Get in my bed and write
I write about my day
and how I feel
I write about anything
Just as long as its real
I lay in bed and try to relax
While all these thoughts
in my mind slowly collapse
In the morning I wake
long and deep breaths
before I take the steps
that are needed to take
To get on my feet
and strive to eat
to get my bread together
so I can find a permanent
place to sleep
My whole entire life
I’ve been the black sheep
At least now I’m that
sheep that is grinding
every day of the week