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Bold Poets: A Sense of Place
"This whole idea of place and identity and what's home and what's not home, [is] such an American question that we've been asking since [Walt] Whitman, trying to put that finger on America.”
-Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco in a 2013 interview with NPR
“Nothing can stop me from living here
Not the money
Or the drugs
Or even the guns.
This is my home.
The one I grew up in.”
-Lilia Duran-Cabral, Colorado Poet Warrior, excerpt from “Westwood”
Whether it’s the story of a secret space, our collective spaces, ours homes, our streets, or our borders—stories of place are as unique to the writer as they are universal to us all. Across the country students are writing about their place, and within these stories, we see the story of our nation as a whole. Students grapple with the questions that have gripped our nation since its founding—what is home? What is my place? What effect does this place have on me? And what effect do I have on this place?
By Sebastian Muñoz
The hot desert sun
Down at us
We ran and ran
As we crossed the border.
La migra chased after the ones
Known as coyotes
We are no coyotes
We are only people
Hungry for freedom
In the video below, Sebastian Muñoz (age 11) and Lilia Duran-Cabral (age 11) from Denver, CO mix together two poems on place. Sebastian’s poem, “Parched,” brings to life the story of a family fleeing from immigration patrol as they across the American border. Behind his few stanzas lies the story of a nation founded by immigrants: “We are only people/hungry for freedom.” Lilia’s poem, “Westwood,” contrasts the beauty of her neighborhood in Denver, CO with the violence that occurs there, “Noticing the grass grow/with the flowers and the trees and the/Gangs.” She mixes hopes with fears, and beside Sebastian’s poem, speaks to the current realities of a nation that was built on sacrifice and dreams.
From Denver, Colorado, Sebastian and Lilia join the tradition of great American poets who tell our collective story through singular questions of place and identity.
Throughout this month, you’ll hear other Poet Warriors speak on identity, community, place, and family; this is the third of a four-video series. Share in our celebration of #BoldPoets like Sebastian and Lilia and continue to listen by signing up at www.poetwarriorsproject.org to get a Poem-A-Week in your inbox from our bold student poets.