Brooklyn’s Daughter

Hey beautiful people!!!

Let me tell you about the latest event. It was a rainy Saturday night, and if you know me at all you will know that I love rainy days, so I knew it was going to be a good night for celebrations and new things! So it was fitting that I went to Maria Rodriguez book release event at a quaint place in Brooklyn, named Simplicity, where she debut her first published poetry book, Brooklyn’s Daughter!!!

Everyone there showed Maria so much love. Her family and friends showed up and showed out. The outpouring love they had for her was palpable. She had a few poet friends read some of their work. She chose them because of how powerful and great they are. She was definitely amongst great people. She started off the night with the beautiful voice of Luminisa Di’Lorenzo with her band Indigesoul. Her sound was soothing yet powerful, it was poetic. The poets included in the line up were True, Roya Marsh, and Peggy Robles-Alvarado. (fyi: If you do not know who these women are please look them up!!) Maria concluded the night by reciting some of the poems in her book having the drums played as the background by the group Machete Movement. It flowed really well as well did the drinks! It was a lovely night for a beautiful person. I am glad I was there to experience that moment with her!!

I know Maria through the NYC Latina Writers Group. I’ve heard her poetry throughout various events done throughout the two years I have known of her and her work. I have to say that she is passionate about the poems she recites. You could feel exactly what the poem conveys when you hear her speak. She takes her craft seriously and is always looking for ways to expand, which she has! She is one of the cast members of Soledad Speaks and has played an important part in the production of the show.* Ad hello she published her first book of poetry!!! My hat goes off to Maria. Being a mother of four and accomplishing so much, she has shown what it means to be a renaissance woman. I don’t have any excuses!!

All I can say is that she has grit, beauty and power, which exudes with the work that she does!

Maria celebrating her book release

Maria celebrating her book release

 

I asked her a few questions to get to know her and her writing process a little better. Enjoy!!

Andreina: What is one thing that we don’t know about you that you wouldd like people to know?

Maria: I do not have a cleft chin. It’s actually a scar I received one summer in Puerto Rico. I was about five. I couldn’t reach the porcelain sink and tried brushing my teeth by balancing my elbows. Slipped and busted my chin wide open. I was creative even then.

A: What scared you the most about completing this poetry book? And how did you overcome that?

M: I’ll be honest, self doubt. Was I a good enough writer/poet to publish a book?  Would it be good enough? Had I paid my dues? I have the utmost respect for the written word and the legacy paved by those that have come before me and I hoped that my poetry would reflect that. I overcame that doubt when I began work shopping my poems on stage. When I wrote for Soledad Speaks. The connection the audience had with my words cemented my belief, that yes my voice is important. We have stories to tell.

A: What were some of the obstacles if any did you have to face to complete/finish the book?

M: I didn’t have many obstacles. I had a really great team. Artist Nelson Santiago created the artwork, which became my book cover. Graphics Designer Sal Acosta worked his magic on fonts, sizing and dimensions for my front and back cover. Charlie Vazquez edited and Emanuel Xavier wrote my forward. I knew what I wanted and was blessed enough to have these wonderful people deliver.

A: What were the good parts of going through the writing process? (I might word it differently but you get the idea)

M: Many of these poems were written over a period of time. Other than the Anthology “Me No Habla With Acento” my work had never been published in book form. Sometimes I would get a burst of inspiration and my pen wouldn’t stop. Within minutes I had a new poem. I posted some on social media and the responses were very positive. I knew those poems would make it into my book.

A: If you could go back what advice would you give yourself about this journey of writing poetry?

M: If I could go back I wouldn’t change anything. Things happen when they’re supposed to and I believe every connection I’ve made, every open mic I’ve done, every work shop I’ve attended has prepared me for now. This moment.

A: Is there anything you would do differently?

M: I wouldn’t have done anything differently because it’s all been a learning experience. The times I’ve bombed, forgotten lines, did a shitty piece, all those moments humbled me. Taught me to go home, rewrite, rehearse, remember and come back harder. I wanted respect from my contemporaries and ultimately I got it.

A: From your book, which one is your favorite poem? And why?

M: Ahhh my favorite poem question. This book is my baby, so you know you’re basically asking me to choose which one of my babies I love the most! Ok, since I have to choose, I’d say “Straight Shootin’ “. It serves as a reminder to always speak your peace 🙂

A: Why should people read your poetry?

M: I’d like people to read my poetry because it’s speaks to everyone. There’s pride, culture. grit, humor, love, pain, strength and it was written by a teenage mother from Brooklyn. I’m no different than anyone willing to dream and live and live their dream.

Finish the statement:

My legacy will be in the written word

This book means that I’m ready to write my second

My inspiration is everything everywhere.

Love is simple but we make it hard

Renaissance means rebirth. It’s a beautiful thing.

 

photo 3

Thank you Maria for sharing your words with us!!! Thank you for telling us your story!! Thank you!! I love the work you do and how you do it!! Love the book!!

If you want to purchase her book please go to mescribidora.wordpress.com

I suggest you get it because it is real, you will be able to connect with her words and you will love it!!! I’m just saying.

If you have read it, which one is your favorite poem? Please share.

Then I’ll tell you mine.

Bueno mi gente, this has been beauty, brains and blogging approved!!

 

 

*for more info on her bio and work you can check her out at www.thefiercewoman.com where she is featured for the week ending the 8th of April because she is a fierce woman!

 

 

Soledad Speaks!

Good evening Beautiful People!

Continuing with the theme of breaking silence. We all know how living in a Latino/Caribbean household is, while growing up our parents would say, “”los trapos sucios, se limpian en casa”, what happens at home stays at home. I’m sure most of us can relate. Which is sad because keeping things silent has not helped anyone. Many have gone through abuse in silence, afraid of not being able to speak up, scream, cry or even believed if they were to say something. And I am talking about all kinds of abuse, no exceptions!

With that being said, I had the privilege of seeing the performance show, Soledad Speaks at BAAD!* for a second time. The show was directed and executed beautifully by Linda Nieves-Powell featuring the poetry of the talented Latina women, Meriam Rodriguez, Maria Rodriguez, Peggy Robles- Alvarado, J.F. Seary and choreography by Milteri Tucker. “The Journey begins during the seventeenth century on the island of Puerto Rican and ends in modern day New York City. Revisiting colonialism and the effects on women, the journey from slavery to rebellion to freedom, SOLEDAD SPEAKS pays homage to those who came before us in the hopes of understanding how their legacy has defined who we are today.”

To me, this show is about speaking up against the stereotypes, stigmas, social norms, patriarchy and displacement that exist in this world.

This show gave me life!! It was wonderful to see the performers give their all on the stage. It was felt. I felt their words, their emotions, their strength through their language. This show will make you laugh, cry, and even cringe because of its honesty but most of all it will make you THINK! Think about this patriarchal society. Think about the social constructs that have been imposed on us. Think about how silence is deadly. Think about sexuality. Think about how society makes us feel that we don’t belong when knowing very well we bring sazon to this bland country!

This show was very empowering and it showed vulnerability that allowed me to relate to everything. Specifically, I was able to relate to Meriam Rodriguez’s ‘coming out’ story, how difficult it is to ‘come out’ to your mother while she is more worried about the fear and the opinion of others than your happiness. And the scenes where they were all around the dancer, Milteri Tucker, trying to fix her hair, relax her hair instead of making her feel proud of the texture of her crown. How she needs to look like a ‘white’ American. I also appreciated the scene about women’s sexual liberation because of course we are taught that we shouldn’t talk about sex. I especially liked how they were able to convey the message that although we are in America we belong here and we are here to stay, that we are EVERYWHERE, “we are breaking stereotypes” because “we be the beat of this city, and we be the spirit of this city”!!!

I can go on and on about this show but I am sure it will be on again so you need to see it for yourself so you can understand what I mean. You will not be sorry!

This show uplifts every woman, the Latina woman, the Caribbean woman, all women of color. It shows us that we are powerful beyond measure. We deserve to be here and we will show you why! One line that I will always remember that was said by Peggy Robles-Alvarado, “a bowed head can not properly carry a crown, baby girl”. So, let’s adjust our crown because we have things to do!!

 

Thank you for making SOLEDAD SPEAKS heard!!! May it continue to do so!

For more information about the show and the director/cast members please visit www.soledadspeaks.com

Visit and Like their page on Facebook

 

*BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance- www.baadbronx.org

 

This has been beauty, brains and blogging approved!