Student, community address prejudice with words at 4th annual Poetry Festival

Some people use posters to protest social injustice. Some use a blowhorn, and some even use bombs. Lalo Delgado used a pen and paper.The Department of Chicana/o Studies hosted “Man on a Mission,” the fourth-annual Lalo Delgado poetry festival, April 25 at St. Catejan’s Center. Delgado died in 2004, and the festival honors him and his work. The poet, social activist and mentor taught at Metro for 17 years and was “instrumental” in the creation of the Chicana/o studies department, said Luis Torres, deputy provost. 

Amanda Duran and her four-year-old son, Benjamin Sandlin, listen to poetry April 25, during the "Man on a Mission" poetry festival in honor of Lalo Delgado, former Metro instructor, social activist, and poet. Photo by Sean Mullins • smullin5@mscd.edu

While many of Delgado’s poems address issues in the Chicano community, Delgado “used the power of the pen to move minds and hearts … He was the universal poet,” Torres said.

“He believed fervently in the power of the pen to educate and restore justice and principle that I believe benefits all of us, regardless of our ethnicity,” Metro President Stephen Jordan said. “Mixing writing and social activism came naturally to Lalo.”

In 1969, Delgado published “Chicano: 25 Pieces of a Chicano Mind,” which included his most well-known poem, “Stupid America.” The poem discusses how America sees the Chicano community through a lens of stereotypes. This sort of social activism was the theme of Delgado’s poetry, and it is a theme used by those he inspired, whom immortalize him and his work with their own.

“Lalo’s legacy is so strong that he continues to be recognized, even after his death,” Jordan said.

Members of the community were invited to speak about Delgado and share their own poetry, which covered a wide range of topics.

Jose Guerrero, a 19-year-old single father and student at the University of Denver, was one of these community poets. He said he had a chance to perform a spoken-word piece at the poetry festival last year during an open-mic period, and was excited to be able participate in a more formal manner this year. One of the poems he performed was about immigration and undocumented workers.

Other community poets included Mari Zepeda and Ken Arkind. Zepeda performed a poem about homosexuality and religion. Arkind shared a poem he said was a prayer for Ken Buck, Colorado’s 2010 Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. Arkind’s poem described Buck as a politician whom is out of touch with American society and uses religion to justify his political agenda.

Delgado’s work demonstrates the power of the pen and that anyone can advocate for social justice and work toward a more harmonious world.

“[Lalo thought] we are all witnesses to the condition of our community. You poet, you doctor… a housekeeper or a teacher — all of us together have the power to transform the betterment of our community,” Jim Garcia, a family of Delgado friend, said.

 

Author: Ashley Moreland

Editor-in-Chief Ashley Moreland has contributed to The Metropolitan & TheMetOnline as a reporter and editor since Fall 2009. She also writes the “F Word” blog.

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