Poetic panel present words from the soul

English professor Virginia Escalante presented the “Chicano/a Poetics IV Panel” on Oct. 5 to continue the tradition of San Diego City College’s International Book Fair and to celebrate its 10th year.

With a master’s degree of fine art from San Francisco State University, Jose Hector Cadena was the first panelist to speak. Cadena is a writer and artist whose poetry is based on his daily life as a student living on the border of Tijuana and San Diego.

His short stories have been published in “Raíces y Más: An Anthology of Young Border Voices.”

“My thoughts sometimes take me to the trolley from San Ysidro to Encanto looking at the murals with diversity behind the big bags of old women who carried them from Downtown to Tijuana,” Cadena said in his poem “My Pensamiento.”

Writer and literature teacher from the department of Chicana and Chicano studies at San Diego State University, Dr. Leilani Grajeda-Higley, is currently working on a new book called “The Power Dynamic: The Force That Drives Our Behavior,” based on power and dominance in relationships.

When writing poetry, Grajeda-Higley likes to incorporate her personal experiences on her series of short essays, however this last year was not an easy year for her. Indeed, it was one of the most tragic in her life; one of her friends died in an accident and her mother and brother passed away.

She started with a soft delicate tone but her voice slowly began to crack as she was reading her poems about the death of her loved ones.

“My mother Lucia Grajeda is reaching the end of her long full life, she is depressed of having so little energy and no control over what others are doing for her,” Grajeda-Higley said in her poem “Winding Down.” “When I left my brother he was fine and laughing remembering when we were little and now he died with no fear or pain.”

City College English professor Manuel Paul Lopez is the author of “Death of a Mexican and other Poems” – winner of the 2006 Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Contest –and “The Yearning Feed” – winner of the 2013 Ernest Sandeen Prize. Lopez presented some of his new pieces, which incorporated his Mexican culture.

“A small drone was flying over the audience to show the event, painted with the colors of the Mexican flag; red, white and green. The drone operator is a 8-years-old boy who was wearing a Mexican luchador mask, red stretchy pants and luchador boots, with a cape of el mil mascaras,” Lopez read.

Angel Salvador is the author of “Shades of Brown: Thoughts of A Young Mexican American Chicano” and “The Road to Quetzalcoatl.” He is also an English professor at City College and Imperial Valley College. Sandoval shared one of his pieces of his manuscript named “Uneducated.”

“I been a good student, preschool began by teaching me my native tongue is wrong, the tongue that spoke the natural spanglish, it was un-American,” Sandoval said. “As Chicano students, we need to be able to see ourselves and reflect our lives, lost identities and cultures every time we write and read. We need to write about ourselves in order to teach about ourselves.”

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Poetic panel present words from the soul