Wordsmiths, the student poetry and spoken word organization, will kick off the year with a showcase featuring poet and speaker, Carlos Andres Gómez, as well as a range of other poets and performers.
Gómez is the author of Man Up, a memoir which details his self-defining experiences growing up and his interactions with many influential people. Also an actor, Gómez appeared in the sixth season of HBO’s Russell Simmon’s Presents Def Poetry and TV One’s Verses and Flow.
“If I’m going to write with high stakes, I need to talk about the most important people in my life.” said Gómez.
As the title of his memoir implies, masculinity and its constructions come into play throughout the majority of Gómez’s work, and audiences can expect his performance to delve into these topics.
When Gómez was 17, renowned poet and author Martin Espada performed at his high school. This was a defining moment for Gómez and one that resurfaces in his poetry and life as a performer.
According to Gómez, the moment represented a huge watershed that finally allowed him to fall intuitively into creative expression after having lived the majority of his life as an athlete held to uncompromising notions of masculinity.
“For me, growing up there were a lot of periods where it felt like the fact that I was creative and sensitive put me at risk. It was one of those times in my life where I wanted to be anyone but myself. It’s this troubling question of who we inherently are and the pressure of who we’re expected to be. Poetry allowed for this fluidity of identity and remembrance of my creativity and sensitivity,” Gómez explained.
Through his work, Gómez hopes to raise people’s spirits. “I’m always seeking to illuminate these very powerful moments that go overlooked. I’m most captivated by those things. I definitely want to leave people feeling uplifted, inspired and moved. I want everyone to leave feeling that they are enough,” Gómez shared.
The showcase will also feature several student poets who, similar to Gómez, use poetry as a means to challenge societal problems and an outlet for self-expression.
Environmental studies major Laura Smith ’14 and English major Emma Redden ’14 are two young women who will grace the stage with their words this weekend. Smith and Redden both competed at CUPSIE last year—the annual college union poetry slam invitational in New York City—and will share material from the competition at the showcase. The girls were two of five Vassar students to compete in the competition.
“It was new for me to be in a space where my poetry was being judged. All of the poets who participated were astoundingly smart, diverse, interesting and introspective,” Redden remarked.
Like Gómez, Smith uses poetry as a tool to create discourse around instances in her life that go unnoticed.
“I write about everything from my everyday experiences to environmental problems,” Smith shared.
Redden’s poetry is inspired along very similar lines. “Poetry is an outlet and an art form for me. It’s a way to process the human experience—the good and bad parts about life. It’s a way to take small things and turn them into something larger, larger than me, with the potential to affect people. I write about heartbreak and broken hearts. I write about different injustices I see and I try my best to write about things that can easily be perceived as mundane,” Redden explained.
The Wordsmiths hope the showcase will be an event where listeners are inspired to act on those things they find important and learn that one can give voice to ideas and identity through poetry; it should be a time of deep reflection and illumination on those little everyday instances we forget or ignore.
“I want to create a dance with a room full of strangers that I just met. I want our fire to be relighted,” Gómez said. The event will take place on Saturday, September 21 from 7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. in Main Building’s Rose Parlor.