Certain topics, especially in today’s political climate can seem almost taboo to talk about, much less base an entire performance on.
Keene State College After Hours hosted Carlos Andrés Gómez, award-winning spoken word poet, Saturday, Oct. 14, in the NOC. Gómez drove 10 hours through 10 states to make it to his Keene State show, where he performed spoken word poems spanning topics such as love, identity, misogyny and modern-day views on masculinity.
Gómez started off the show with lots of energy and humor, bridging the introduction to each poem with personal anecdotes, connections to Keene and audience interaction. Each poem had a truly raw feel, as Gómez kept it truly genuine with the crowd, with personal stories about his experiences with toxic masculinity growing up in “Handstitch,” to his thoughts on the sexist limitations his daughter could face growing up in “If A Princess Tries To Kidnap Your Daughter.”
Gómez claims the biggest inspirations to his work are life’s overlooked moments that “have a big impact, but seem small.”
“To me, that’s what poetry does, it puts a spotlight on a silence or something in a shadow and it makes something that we don’t usually see visual,” Gómez said. “I am trying to have people think and feel, and have thoughts and feelings about things that they may not regularly think about.”
Gómez actually didn’t begin to explore his talents in writing and performing prose until, at the age of 17, Martín Espada performed at his high school.
“I just knew that poetry would be something central for the rest of my life,” Gomez said.
Keeping up with his engaging performance, Gómez offered to perform a poem that he had never performed before, and would would never perform again- in fact he had not even written it yet.
Gómez reached out to the audience, asking one member for the poems name, “Window” another for its first word, “We” and another for the last word “Together,” and finally for the poem’s theme, “Losing.” Gómez absorbed these words for a brief moment, took a deep breath and spun a beautiful bit of prose for the audience, one about, yes, losing, but also about coming back from that and growing together.
Sophomore Adriana Alicea, an elementary education and psychology major, had been following Gómez on social media for some time before the performance.
“I was dead-set on coming, I have shared some of his poems on facebook, so I was very excited to come,” Alicea said.
Alicea was also the lucky winner of a free signed copy of Gómez’s book, Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood, of which she was also very excited about.
Alicea also appreciates when KSC bring in performers and artists from different backgrounds, and really appreciated the poems Gómez did on his experiences on being a proud latino, especially his poem “What Does Latino Look Like?” coming from a Puerto Rican background herself.
“It’s really important to be bringing people from diverse backgrounds to campus,” Alicea said. “ We don’t have a very diverse campus here. It can be eye-opening for people.”
With a four year old younger sister, Jones really connected to Gómez’s poem, “If A Princess Tries To Kidnap Your Daughter”, where he brushes upon gender roles, stereotypes and misogyny that can present themselves to little girls.
Jones said her younger sister has thrown dolls away in protest while she would embrace dinosaur toys.
“She rejects anything traditionally girly”’ Jones said, relating to back to how often society tries to reduce girls to the color pink and the title of “princess,” themes very present within Gómez’s prose.
Overall, Gómez just hopes to encourage conversations.
“My hope is that I am pushing people in rooms to think and feel deeply in ways that they’re not typically asked to engage with the world. That’s all I want. I don’t care if people agree with me… that’s my role as an artists to be provocative.” Gómez said.
Meridith King can contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org