(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)—The IU Southeast Campus Activities Board is proud to present Carlos Andrés Gómez in a spoken-word program on Thurs. Feb. 1 at 12:15 p.m. in the Millicent and Norman Stiefler Recital Hall of The Ogle Center.
Gomez is an award-winning poet, speaker, actor, and author of the memoir, “Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood,” released by Penguin Random House. A star of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, TV One’s Verses and Flow, and Spike Lee’s #1 movie “Inside Man” with Denzel Washington, Gomez has lectured and performed at more than 500 colleges and universities in 45 U.S. states and headlined shows in 25 countries across five continents, and performed at the White House during the Obama administration. Named 2016 Best Diversity Artist by Campus Activities Magazine and Artist of the Year at the 2009 Promoting Outstanding Writers Awards, Gomez is the author of poems like, “Where are you really from?” and “What Latino Looks Like,” which have garnered millions of views online. Winner of the 2015 Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize, 2015 Makeda Bilqis Literary Award, and a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Gomez is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. He is a proud Latino and father. Gomez spoke about his work with IU Southeast Academic Information Officer, Steven Krolak.
What did growing up in New York teach you about freedom and nonfreedom?
New York is collision of extremes—from the most exquisite beauty to the most debased horrors. Being a New Yorker taught me to recognize and accept the paradoxical realities of being human.
What was your background in public schools and social work, and how did the transition into poetry and performance happen?
I taught in public schools in Philadelphia and Manhattan, and worked as a social worker in Harlem and the Bronx. I got cast in the Spike Lee film, “Inside Man,” one week after I’d given notice that I would be leaving my social work job. Somehow, it seems, the Universe had a plan and conspired for me to be an artist.
In “Black Boy” and other poems, ethnicities are “kidnapped by history.” How can we overcome that process by which we become prisoners in our own minds?
I’m not sure “overcome” is a realistic or the right word. I think the only way we make a safer world for everyone is by challenging and trying to dismantle the systems and structures that perpetuate such gross inequities.
In “What Latino Looks Like,” you speak of “the patchwork quilt we’ve had to weave across the endless cemetery that cradles our past.” What does that quilt feel like today?
It feels strong, rough-edged and infinite.
“How To Fight” ends with the line, “let’s start something.” What are some of the things you think it’s time to start, as individuals and a society?
So many things: start recognizing each of us is enough, interrogating prescribed social roles, dismantling patriarchy and white supremacy.
“Distinctly Beautiful” describes a world that feeds on the destruction, and self-destruction, of girls and women, and the rage their fathers, brothers, teachers, friends, lovers feel, both at the system and at their own complicity, as males. But the word “distinctly” is a small beacon of hope—what is that word for you?
Each of us is a miraculous resource—spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and beyond—and yet we live in a hyper-consumerist world that survives by conspiring against our authenticity.
What is it like to perform at the White House?
It was a dream. I never thought when I started writing poetry at 17 that I’d one day recite a poem dedicated to my grandmother at the White House, with my mom watching and weeping in the second row.
The Campus Activities Board (CAB) is a student-run organization whose primary function is to plan and facilitate cultural, social, recreational, and educational events at IU Southeast. CAB is responsive to student interest, with a primary goal of fostering campus community and unity throughout IU Southeast.