Award-winning poet offers free workshops for Hispanic Heritage Month

The Delaware Library Consortium will host two free Zoom workshops with award-winning Colombian American spoken-word poet Carlos Andrés Gómez.

Mr. Gómez’s three workshops are part of the DLC’s virtual celebration of Delaware’s Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs until Oct. 15.

The first workshop Mr. Gómez hosted for the DLC, on Sept. 16, was titled, “Our Intersecting Selves: Diversity, Identity, Equity and Inclusion,” and focused on how an individual’s identity and the way others perceive it changes the way one navigates the world.

“I think poems and writing have been a big way that have helped me to understand the world and get me thinking about identity, equity (and) a lot of the concepts we’re going to talk about today,” Mr. Gómez said.

“A lot of that is rooted in personal narrative,” he said, “so you’re going to hear a lot of poems that tell stories about my life.”

The first poem Mr. Gómez read the audience centered on a vivid description of a night he spent dancing at a salsa club in northeast Philadelphia, while he was attending college at the University of Pennsylvania.

He also shared a poem he wrote about getting pulled over for speeding as a fair-skinned, light-eyed Latino man and how he imagined that experience would be different for his son, whose mother is Black.

Mr. Gómez also talked about the machismo attitude expected of men in many Hispanic communities and how writing helped him come to terms with not fitting into that.

“Writing became a lifesaver for me, this thing that I stumbled into unexpectedly that finally gave me a medium to process emotions, to reconnect and build emotional literacy and, for me, ultimately, to find my way to myself,” he said.

But to a large degree, the workshop was Mr. Gómez facilitating a conversation between the participants by encouraging them to share their thoughts and experiences surrounding their own identities.

Mr. Gómez, whose honors include the 2020 Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry for “Fractures” and the 2018 Broken River Prize for “Hijito,” will lead a second workshop, titled, “Writing Through: Storytelling toward Social Justice,” on Saturday at 1 p.m. over Zoom.

“This writing workshop challenges participants to use personal experience as a means of grappling with social inequity and exclusion,” the event page on the DLC’s website says.

Those interested in this event can register at delawarelibraries.libcal.com/event/7082195.

At 4 p.m. Oct. 13, Mr. Gómez will lead a third Zoom workshop, titled, “Getting Through: Finding Community in Isolation.”

In this event, which is a “highly recommended session for all college and high school student leaders, educators, staff, and administrators, he focuses on problem-solving, idea-sharing, and identifying positive solutions to the shared concerns and challenges of navigating this pandemic,” the DLC’s event page says.

The link to register for this workshop is delawarelibraries.libcal.com/event/7082212.

Like the Sept. 16 workshop, both of these events will be interactive, allowing participants to share their owns stories and ideas.