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Book Image Not Available
Book details
  • Genre:POETRY
  • SubGenre:American / Hispanic American
  • Language:English
  • Pages:100
  • eBook ISBN:9781618424259

Barrio Songs

by Joaquin Zihuatanejo

Book Image Not Available
Overview
In his first collection of poems, Barrio Songs, Joaquin Zihuatanejo gives readers an unflinching look at life in the inner city barrio of America today. Brutal but honest, these narrative poems tell the story of a boy who found refuge in a world of poems and stories at a young age. From the love of his abuelo, his grandfather, to the pain associated with being born of a mother who could not, and a father who would not raise him, Joaquin paints vivid pictures with each stanza daring the reader to walk a mile in the shoes of a barrio boy.
Description
If you were to ask him, “Who is your biggest poetic influence?” Joaquin Zihuatanejo would reply, “Mi abuelo, my grandfather.” When his mother could not, and his father would not, raise him, it was Joaquin’s grandfather who stepped forward and took him in and taught him everything he knows about life, poetry, and what it is to be a good man. His grandfather was a yardman. He mowed the front and back yards of wealthy people who lived in far off foreign suburbs, and he noticed that these people would do strange things like put old, unwanted, used, household items out on the curb for any passer-by to pick up and take if they like. These foreigners called these items trash; his grandfather called them treasures. So he was a treasure hunter as well. His most sought after treasures were books, which people would sometimes place by the box-load on the curb. He would bring these books home and challenge Joaquin to read the poems and stories out loud in English to him. Joaquin’s grandfather understood English but chose not to speak it, but he demanded that Joaquin speak it to him. And these poems and stories that Joaquin would read aloud to his grandfather were his initiation into the literary world. He asked his grandfather once, “Why do you make me read these poems out loud to you?” His abuelo replied, “Mi’jo, this barrio is plagued by violence, gangs, drugs, and poverty, but when you’re inside the poem or the story, none of that can harm you.” And with these words, his grandfather saved him. Many of the voices captured between these pages are merely spirits now, but they rise like a phoenix from the ashes when these poems are read. Joaquin commented once that these poems were not an act of inspiration but rather an act of desperation. If he didn’t capture the voices that exist in these poems and share them with the world, then who would? In Barrio Songs, Joaquin Zihuatanejo gives readers an unflinching look at life in the inner city barrio of America today. Brutal but honest, these narrative poems tell the story of a boy who found refuge in a world of poems and stories at a young age. From the love of his abuelo, his grandfather, to the pain associated with being born of a mother who could not, and a father who would not raise him, Joaquin paints vivid pictures with each stanza daring the reader to walk a mile in the shoes of a barrio boy.
About the author
Joaquín Zihuatanejo is a poet, spoken word artist, and award-winning teacher. Born and raised in the barrio of East Dallas, in his work Joaquín strives to capture the duality of the Chicano culture. Sometimes brutal, but always honest his work depicts the essence of barrio life, writing about a youth that existed somewhere between the streets of the barrio and the dream wanderings of a boy who found refuge in a world of stories and poems. Joaquín has been called by critics, “one of the most dynamic and passionate performance poets in the country, melding equal parts comedy, poetry, and dramatic monologue into a crowd-pleasing display of verbal fireworks…always thrilling, Joaquín’s hilariously manic presentation is full of compassion and nuance, never sacrificing substance for style, leading many to call him poetry slam’s answer to John Leguizamo.” A National Poetry Slam Finalist, Grand Slam Spoken Word Champion, and HBO Def Poet, Joaquín has performed his poetry at universities, conferences and poetry slams all over the Unites States, Canada, Mexico and Europe. In 2005, Joaquin was featured on season five of Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry for HBO. Filmed in front of a live audience at the majestic Supper Club Theater just off Broadway in New York City, Joaquin performed in front of a capacity crowd and received a standing ovation for his performance. For seven years Joaquín was an award-winning English and creative writing public high school teacher for ninth and eleventh grade students inspiring a new collection of poems from the classroom entitled Stand Up and Be Heard. For the last five years Joaquin has taken a break from his teaching position to tour North America and Europe teaching workshops and performing his one-man spoken word show at hundreds of colleges, universities, conferences and poetry slams. In his extensive journey as a professional performance poet, Joaquin has shared a stage with Billy Collins, Saul Williams, E. Lynn Harris, Alicia Keys, and Maya Angelou among others. He recently co-wrote and produced of fire and rain, a CD that is a spoken word collaboration with award-winning poet, Natasha Carrizosa. The project has been described as a testimony of life/love that spans from the barrios of East Dallas to the ghettos of the West Indies. Selections from of fire and rain were selected by Poetry in Motion to be published on posters on buses, light rail, and trains throughout The United States—the Poetry In Motion series attempts to capture the work of modern American poets alongside the work of the masters, other poets in this series included Wallace Stevens, Anne Bradstreet, and Seamus Heaney. Joaquín won the 2008 Individual World Poetry Slam Championship besting 77 poets representing cities all over North America, France and Australia. Because of this victory Joaquín was the poet chosen to represent the U.S. at the 2009 World Cup of Poetry Slam in Paris, France, a competition that he won besting 15 poets from 15 different nations making him the number one ranked slam poet in the world on both sides of the Atlantic. Joaquín was given the 2011 Institute for Creativity, Consciousness and Community Artist in Residency Award by the National Hispanic Cultural Center and was recently invited by NPR to be interviewed and recorded for two upcoming series, Historias and The National Teacher’s Initiative. He currently lives just north of his hometown of Dallas with his wife and two daughters. Joaquín has two passions in his life, his wife, Aída, and poetry, always in that order.
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