Cultivating Community

Yesterday I attended a poetry reading by Christopher Soto. Soto is a poet based in Brooklyn, New York. He is the author of Sad Girl Poems (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2016) and the editor of Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color (Nightboat Books, 2018). Soto read a few original poems and other poems produced by other poets as well. Throughout this experience, all of the poems shared a common theme. There was a shared theme of inclusivity within the poems. Each poem covered serious issues, such as mass imprisonment, sex slavery, and racism. One writing technique I gained from attending this poetry reading is call and response. Soto read a poem aloud and when he raised his hand, the audience replied with the same response. I found this to be effective in accomplishing the message of the poem. The poem was in regards to mass imprisonment. The poem also contained the technique of repetition. Repetition stands out to the reader in that it makes the piece memorable and quotable. Christopher Soto is an incredibly talented writer that touches upon economic, racial, and social issues throughout society.

Some of Soto’s work brought me back to Fortune’s Bones by Marilyn Nelson. Throughout the book the reader is brought through the life of Fortune and his endeavors. After Fortune died, Fortune’s bones were placed in a museum to be put on display. This was done without consent. During some of Soto’s readings, there was an instance of lack of consent when a female writer wrote about being raped and beaten in prison against her will. The other topic discussed in yesterday’s poetry reading that brought me back to Fortune’s Bones is racism. Soto opened up the discussion with self identity. Every person in the room had their own identity, but unlike Fortune, he was merely classified as bones in a museum. Fortune was more than that, he contained an identity just like everyone else. I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday’s discussion and thought it was informative and pushed students to think creatively and productively.

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