Renowned spoken word poet, author, actor and playwright Carlos AndrÃ©s GÃ³mez gave a fantastic performance to around sixty students in the campus center on April 16.
The event was sponsored by VIVA, Lawrence’s Latin American culture club. According to junior Osbani Garcia, VIVA’s president, “VIVA raises awareness of Latin American culture on campus and outside of campus. We felt the need to bring a speaker either from a Latino background or with an emphasis on Latino culture. Carlos was the perfect speaker.”
He added, “We knew that a posse scholar in Lafayette had shared his great experience with Carlos with other posse scholars at other schools. I could say that we found out about Carlos through the ‘posse-scholar-network.'”
In the past, GÃ³mez has worked as a social worker and a public school teacher in Harlem, the south Bronx, Philadelphia and Manhattan. He is from New York City, but in his own words, “I grew up all over the world.” More recently, he has taken his slam poetry act on tour everywhere from Europe to Africa and the Caribbean, leaving a trail of awards and increasing fame in his wake.
GÃ³mez described his work as “Raw, real and revealed.” He added that “when I get it right, I think I can connect with anyone — regardless of race, class, religion, sexuality, age, whatever — because there’s something universally human about opening yourself up and inviting the world in.”
GÃ³mez’s poetry deals mainly with race, gender and discrimination in general. Senior Drew Donica said, “The best part of the show was the last piece he did called ‘genocide’ where he discussed what it was like to tell a student in an under-privileged public school what genocide means, grappling with how the hate that causes genocide is similar to the hate present in impoverished U.S. communities.”
When he arrived in the Esch/Hurvis room, GÃ³mez said that Lawrence was one of the most beautiful places he had ever performed. He was also impressed by the students, whom he called “Amazing. They’re so open, friendly and exuberant.”
The Monday night show was an undeniable success. The students who attended and even GÃ³mez himself were impressed by the energy and enthusiasm in the room. GÃ³mez said, “It felt like performing in my living room for family and close friends. The crowd was alive, raw, open, and exhilaratingly present. I’ve done close to 50 shows at schools in the Midwest and last night was probably my favorite one.”
The student audience gave GÃ³mez a standing ovation to show their appreciation. According to Donica, “The event was inspiring, intense, eye-opening and hilarious.” He added, “I have seen stand-up poets before, but Carlos was by far the most engaging and inspiring poet I have ever seen.”
For more information on GÃ³mez, visit www.facebook.com/CarlosOnTour.