Updated: Apr 8, 2019
Photos by: Monika Stroz
On March 6, 2019, students gathered in the Paterson Room for a writer’s workshop lead by author/poet, Ysabel Gonzalez and hosted by Dr. Christine Redman-Waldeyer, a faculty member of PCCC's Honors Program.
Dr. Christine Redman-Waldeyer had invited Gonzalez to the campus to shed light on relatable poets that bring culture to the forefront. “I was looking for a poet that was reflective of the students we have at PCCC, who came from similar backgrounds and experiences,” Dr. Redman-Waldeyer explained.
After reading poetry from her upcoming book, Wild Invocations, Gonzalez gave a prompt to students, allowing them to express their appreciation of family inheritance (both negative and positive). “Write whatever comes to mind. You do not need to complete the piece,” Gonzalez instructed. Students rushed to write or type their poems, and some were even more eager to share the pieces they created.
“I loved the topic Ysabel gave us,” explains 19 year-old, Early Childhood Education major Ashely Diaz. “It really allowed me to be transparent about certain things I don’t normally open up (about). I wrote about my gifts with my family and how appreciative I was to have my grandma to relate to. It just felt so liberating to read my poem to everyone. As a poet, you have so many words waiting to flood out; once they’re out there...you feel such a weight lifted off your chest,” she passionately added.
“The most amazing thing about hearing her read her own poetry out loud was the feeling it gave me… I felt so connected yet vulnerable at the same time,” added Diaz when asked to describe the effect of hearing Gonzalez’s poetry out loud.
All the people who brave enough to read their poems were excited to do it, but their writing was the most amazing part. Each poem was different and unique but so engulfing to listen to and understand. Everyone had different things to say about the traits or features passed down from our parents and even ancestors before that.
The students were all captured by Gonzalez’s emotions while reading her work. The emotions she put out were those of honest experiences and pain. A lot of the time, poetry cannot be understood unless it is read out loud, but in this case you could feel and just understand everything.
Gonzalez ended the event with a few final poems; one in particular stuck with the crowd. “Be Girl Bound: The Remix,” a poem about hip hop and how it did and does objectify women. She read it with passion and a hint of anger. Her view on the misogyny that woman face in the music industry was brutally honest and unapologetic.
“I loved how passionate and expressive she was while reading her poetry,” said Darwa Hystru, a 20-year-old friend of a student at PCCC who attended the event, “I am not usually into poetry, but the way she read it out [loud] and accentuated the pauses… it caused chills to form on my back,” Hystru continued.
The Honors Program plans to bring more artists to reveal culture and appreciation of art on campus. In the past, the Honors Program invited famous poets, Dr. Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Dr. Nancy Gerber to introduce poetry to the student body.
“I think it is important for students to have the opportunity to see and hear the artist behind their work and their way of viewing their own art,” says the director of the Honors Program, Dr. Martha Brozyna. “We hope to do this again next semester… having students attend these events can help them understand certain things better. This time it was a poet, but next time it could be something like a play wright?” she possibly suggested.
There are several different events upcoming that have to do with different subjects and topics. Everyone can find something that will interest or benefit them.