Saturday, April 30, 2011

Yolandi Elvira Cruz: A talk with a young poet who thrives in Somerville's " Books of Hope

(Books of Hope authors)

Yolandi Elvira Cruz: A talk with a young poet who thrives in Somerville's " Books of Hope" Project.

Interview with Doug Holder

"Books of Hope" is a project located in the Mystic River Housing Project in Somerville that introduces young people to the world of publishing, marketing, poetry and creative writing. I interviewed one of the young poets who particpates in the project: Yolandi Elvira Cruz. I asked her to send her bio. She wrote the News:

"Yolandi Elvira Cruz Guerrero was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and wrote her first book when she was in third grade. It was made up of only eight pages and filled with illustrations she created herself with color pencils and water paint. Yolandi is now a seventeen-year-old High School Junior trying to pass her classes and working with kids at the local library. She has been writing since she came out her mother’s womb and has had the luck of encounteringamazing teachers and friends who have encouraged her to share her stories bothin Spanish and English. She met her first love, Spoken Word, as a freshman and has been working to make her marriage stronger and have a couple kids ever since. Right now she participates in Books of Hope in the community of Somerville.

She writes for peace and refuses to create art that doesn’t work towards positively changing the world."

What has poetry given you that other forms of expression have not?

Poetry has given me confidence and it has empowered me by reassuring me that words do have a strong impact on the entire world.

We live in Somerville, certainly not known for its "natural beauty" It is a city. What for you is beautiful about Somerville--where do you find beauty?

Although, I am not from Somerville I am actually from Boston I would say that I find the beauty of Somerville in its youth because they are very artistic and have important messages to deliver.

I know there are a lot of poets in our area. It is very competitive. Even more so if you are a teenager , and not connected in the "adult" poetry world. Has Books of Hope helped you to connect?

Books of Hope has helped me more so to become a stronger writer, we haven't necessarily had strong connections into the "adult" poetry world yet. However, we did have Lauren Whitehead give us a writing workshop which was amazing. Soon we will be doing a Mystic Ink Tour where we will most likely be exposed to this world "adult" poetry world you speak of.

Has writing poetry been helpful to you in any other aspect of your life?

Yes, writing has helped me release and understand many things I couldn't comprehend on my own. It has also helped me with my ability to speak in public and own my work as an artist.

Any teachers who have inspired you?

All of my teachers have inspired me. All of them, starting from my mother and ending with my 8-year old sister.

What for you makes a great poem?

A great poem to me is a poem that sounds like a melody even if it doesn't make any sense. Poetry is Music. Music is Poetry. And a great poem is simply based on how our hearts not our "intellectual egos" perceives it.

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