Sound and rhythm of Hispanic heritage
Published: Thursday, October 3, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 3, 2013 00:10
Hispanic Heritage Month is halfway over, but energy was high at Wednesday’s Hispanic Heritage Month poetry event.
The event was hosted by the MSC Committee for the Awareness of Mexican-American Culture (CAMAC) and featured headliner Mayda Del Valle, a poet from Chicago, and local poet James Church.
Del Valle’s performance to an almost full house in the Gates Ballroom included both poems and personal stories from her childhood in Chicago and her life in recent years.
To open the show, Del Valle said she encouraged reactions from the audience.
“There’s no fourth wall here,” De Valle said in her opening speech. “Participation is not only requested and appreciated, it’s required. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it and laugh sometimes. If not, that’s okay because I still get a check.”
Del Valle’s poems covered subjects ranging from falling in and out of love, funny stories about the debate of Mexican Spanish and Puerto Rican Spanish and watching her mom cook. Each poem was accompanied by a story, many of them more lighthearted, some more serious.
Del Valle ended her 45-minute performance by performing the same poem that she performed at the White House in 2009.
Del Valle said her poems meant more than just the words themselves. One about her grandmother, Del Valle said, was an acknowledgement to all the women who had made sacrifices to make life on Earth possible.
“It’s not just a poem to me,” Del Valle said. “I’m calling something to fill these empty seats. We do not walk alone.”
After her poems, there was question and answer session in which people in the audience asked Del Valle questions about her poems and her life.
Members of CAMAC said several factors that made the event exciting.
Barbara Mora, the chair of CAMAC, said the event was a fresh and unique opportunity for CAMAC and for the Hispanic Heritage Month at Texas A&M.
“It’s not something that’s really been done before for Hispanic Heritage Month,” Mora said. “I’m excited about it because it’s so unique.”
In addition to Del Valle’s presence being a positive for Hispanic Heritage Month and CAMAC, Church said the presence of Del Valle, a world famous poet, on campus speaks to a new attitude at the University.
“It shows that A&M is open to getting quality writers to share their works with the student body,” Church said. “And it’s about time.”
Magda Ortiz, head of CAMAC Cultural Programs, introduced Del Valle and mentioned some of the poet’s accomplishments. Del Valle appeared on six episodes of the HBO “Def Poetry Jam” and was a contributing writer and original cast member of the Tony Award winning Def Poetry Jam on Broadway. She was one of the top 20 women on Oprah Winfrey’s 2013 “O Power List.”
Mora said she believed the event, featuring poetry and the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, appealed to a wide audience.
“Mayda has performed for the president which shows she has a high standard,” Mora said. “We can spread the word of Hispanic Heritage Month even better this way.”