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Grant Beacon Middle School Speaks! Cafe Cultura Community Speaks Project #17 Telling Our Stories Workshop Participants


Grant Beacon Middle School Speaks! Copyright Š 2014 by Telling Our Stories Workshop Participants All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the author.


To the wonderful Grant Beacon Middle School students in our Spoken Word/Poetry enrichment class…You have the power to do great things.


Acknowledgments Thank you to Grant Beacon Middle School staff for the opportunity to offer Café Cultura’s Telling Our Stories workshop series during enrichment. Shout out to all participants for sharing your energy with us. Remember: “It’s our responsibility and choice to express ourselves and lift our voice, together building unity, leaders in our community. This is how we tell our stooorrrryyyy!”


Foreword After presenting our Xpress Yourself workshops for students at Grant Beacon Middle School, it made sense to introduce our Telling Our Stories workshop series as a way to continue working together. We hope you will enjoy the students’ poems and use them as examples of how you too can express yourself and tell your own story. For those who do not know about organization: Café Cultura is an award-winning arts, culture, and youth development organization in Denver that promotes unity and healing among Indigenous peoples through creative expression while empowering youth to find their voice, reclaim oral and written traditions, and become leaders in their communities. Café Cultura has been providing positive, creative, and engaging community spaces for the Denver metropolitan area for more than nine years. The idea for our organization emerged during the summer of 2004 with the passing of respected elder and veteran poet Abelardo “Lalo” Delgado. At that moment, we realized and accepted our responsibility to continue using our oral and written traditions to provide opportunities for creative expression not offered in schools or in the larger community. Café Cultura also drew inspiration from the movements connecting Indigenous people from throughout the Americas. In that spirit of Red/Brown Unity, we hoped to use creative expression to unify people representing southern Indigenous nations, known by terms such as “Chicana/o,” “Mexicana/o,” and “Latina/o,” with those Natives of northern nations, referred to today as “Native American” or “American Indian.” Café Cultura’s most well-known event has found a home at the Denver Inner City Parish/La Academia, where we consistently attract 150 to 350 people the second Friday of every month. In fact, we host one of the best open mic venues in the Denver


metropolitan area, and the only space focused on family and youth. We take pride in featuring amazing poets, musicians, and visual artists from the Denver area as well as those from outside the state. CafĂŠ Cultura also conducts highly engaging and culturally relevant spoken word/poetry workshops for underserved youth throughout Colorado. CafĂŠ Cultura partners with select organizations and schools to facilitate an intensive workshop series, publish youth poetry, and organize participant showcases. In an effort to develop young leaders within our community, we also coordinate a youth leadership program for Indigenous youth. If you or your organization is interested in collaborating, feel free to contact us. We hope to see you the 2nd Friday of every month. For more information: info@cafecultura.org; 720-394-6589 www.cafecultura.org; www.facebook.com/cafecultura


Table of Contents Score by Jesus .........................................................................................1 Running by Mario ..................................................................................2 Posole by Kimberly................................................................................3 My Native People by Emanuel ............................................................4 Her Story by Mateo................................................................................5 Poker by Ava...........................................................................................6 Mexico, HOME! by Victor ...................................................................7 Volleyball by Breanna ............................................................................8 Untitled by Mario ...................................................................................9 On the Field by Ezequiel ................................................................... 10 Who is Jesus by Jesus ......................................................................... 11 My Mexican Pride by Mario .............................................................. 12 Soccer by Kimberly ............................................................................. 13 Walking by Emanuel ........................................................................... 14 Between Two Places by Mateo ......................................................... 15 Together by Ava .................................................................................. 16 The Best by Victor .............................................................................. 17 Being Free by Breanna ....................................................................... 18 Cinco de Mayo by Ezequiel ............................................................... 19 My True Home by Jesus .................................................................... 20 Familia in My Heart by Mario ........................................................... 21 Sports by Kimberly ............................................................................. 22 Looking in the Mirror by Emanuel .................................................. 23


Our Food by Mateo ............................................................................ 24 Person Looking Back at Me by Ava ................................................. 25 On the Court by Mateo ...................................................................... 26


Score by Jesus I always try to score. In basketball, I try to accomplish something great every day and every game. And just then, in the heat of the moment, I take the shot. I see the ball head toward the rim and and it misses. So close to greatness, but not close enough. I see the big players and the opposing teams made up of drugs, bullying, and stereotypes. They are all in my way to the hoop, blocking my path to greatness. I see an opening. I go through all of them without them even breathing on me. I succeed where everyone has failed. I am ready to take the shot but this time I will not miss.


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Grant Beacon Middle School Speaks!

Running by Mario We crawl at the start of our lives. We walk with reading and writing as our legs. But the bigger challenge is how to run because sometimes drugs become your best friend. They will push you back to crawling but do not give up. Get up on your two legs and run. Put forth your best effort in this life. You will get faster and stronger running away from the drugs. You might also run into drama. It will only slow you down. But your speed will carry you through it. People will break you apart with stereotypes but you will not give up. You try to jump over the short assaults. You might stumble but you won’t fall. Your life is a race and you will cross the finish line first. With determination, you will reach college and get a job, arriving at your life’s destination.


Telling Our Stories Workshop Participants

Posole by Kimberly Posole comes from an old recipe. It is the most awesome food in the world. It is my culture and what we eat. It brings family together. The red color reminds me of the Mexican flag. The smell takes me to another world. The spices and love that my mom puts in it make it the most amazing delicious thing you will ever taste My mom’s food is the best. It will always run in the family. I will always love my culture and will never be ashamed.

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My Native People by Emanuel I am the delicious and warm frybread made with yeast that rises just like my Native people. It reminds me of my Native blood. It makes me think of the ancestors, as if I was one of them. When I look at my brother I don’t see a brother, I see a boss. When I fall, he stops to pick me up. He shows me how to keep my head up and not let anybody put me down. I am the sage burning in my blood. I ascend with smoke that shows my ancestors dancing around. I give strength and happiness to my Native people. I am a dreamcatcher. I catch all the bad spirits and throw them away. I come from my Native peoples’ hands. At the end of it, all I can say is today was a good day.


Telling Our Stories Workshop Participants

Her Story by Mateo I am a mother of two wonderful daughters. I am a grandmother with two lovely grandchildren. I come from San Mateo, California. I am an older sister, to a younger brother. I will always remember how I taught my grandchildren how to be polite. I also make my children and grandchildren happy, filled with warmth and love. I will never forget sacrificing to put money into my grandson’s tennis account, so he can play. I have curly gray hair, and I am very tall. I always tell my grandchildren and children, “Whenever you are with people at a restaurant, always be polite.” I have been a grandmother for thirteen years. My hands are used to hold the ones who I love. My wrinkles tell a story. My face expresses how I am feeling. I care and help other people, if they need it. I’m smart, kind, generous, polite, thankful, helpful, and happy.

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Grant Beacon Middle School Speaks!

Poker by Ava Playing the game of life requires strategizing. There are always cheaters who take away everything from you and rob you of your life like drugs and alcohol. When you get a bad hand, someone in your life dies or your parents get divorced. With a good hand, your family stays together when nobody has died recently. When you lose, do not give up. Do not let your life slip away and just quit. But to avoid trouble or losing, take your time and think before you make a move.


Telling Our Stories Workshop Participants

Mexico, HOME! by Victor I will never forget the hard work and love that my mom puts into making tamales. I bring our family together, from my great-great grandma to me. When I smell her tamales, I remember Mexico, or should I say home, from the most beautiful places to the most dangerous. No matter what goes down, we will enjoy ourselves. We may not be rich or advanced, but we will have fun.

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Grant Beacon Middle School Speaks!

Volleyball by Breanna I am waiting for the ball to be hit to me. I shake in fear when it comes. I want to make my family and friends proud of my accomplishments. I do my best to score because I do not want to let my team down. I hope my teammates support each other so we win in this life. We will congratulate the other team for their hard work. I practice and show discipline because my next game is coming soon. So come on team, let’s win.


Telling Our Stories Workshop Participants

Untitled by Mario I come from Denver. I will always remember my grandma’s chile, from the spice and mouth-watering filling it creates. I will never forget my grandma’s house because she always took pride in what she did. I come from Denver, the Mile High, from the random weather to the concerts and fast food.

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Grant Beacon Middle School Speaks!

On the Field by Ezequiel I am a soccer player that runs away from drugs and alcohol. I run fast so they cannot catch me. I am an upstanding person, helping others with bullying. I always try to make perfect passes to my teammates. Doubts about my ability look for me. They might find my location on this field but never set inside of me for good. I will never allow drugs and alcohol to trip me. Never follow the bad choices. Be a good kid.


Telling Our Stories Workshop Participants

Who is Jesus by Jesus I am the menudo my mother makes. I will always remember this amazing dish bringing my family together. I come from the adobe houses on the hill near Gran Morelos. I come from my mother’s long brown hair and dark brown eyes. I am the cozy feeling I get while resting on my bed. I am the time and money spent into making a beautiful quince for my cousins. I am Jesus and I come from all these things.

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My Mexican Pride by Mario I am the tasty cheesy torta that moms make for their kids with bread, meat, and love. I am from the heart of Mexico. I am Arondas. I am a small pueblo in Jalisco made of stone, culture, and history. I am free and full of life. Friendly people bring friends and family to posadas and parties. I will never forget my abuelita’s sweet voice when she brought the family together. She makes us happy. I am a wooden bracelet that reminds my owner about his culture and family. I am the power of the Mexican pride that walks down the streets during Cinco de Mayo. Familias come together and celebrate el pais.


Telling Our Stories Workshop Participants

Soccer by Kimberly Join me on the soccer field of life and try your best to control the ball. Just remember, in this life you will not always be right. When you miss a goal, it is not the end of the world. Go ahead and try again. It does not matter what people say. You can sprint and pass through their doubts. You do not want to let your team down. So I hope I make a goal for my family showing everyone how I can be successful.

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Walking by Emanuel I am walking from these bad spirits. They chase me trying to trip me up with drugs and crimes. I am trying to get to the end of the road, the road of happiness. But as I got to the end, I keep getting pushed back. All I want to do is make it to the end to rest, rest my legs.


Telling Our Stories Workshop Participants

Between Two Places by Mateo I am a very hot and dry city, a Texas border town so close to Mexico. I represent how you can be both American and Mexican. I bring families together. I am where grandparents, cousins, and all sorts of other family live. I will always remember how I make people happy. I connect some adults to their childhood. I have surroundings, where cactuses, tumbleweeds, and roadrunners meet buildings and busy streets. People visit me every Thanksgiving, sometimes. What I do very well is bring family to celebrate it all together.

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Together by Ava I am the delicious, salty, and warm papadam my mom makes me. I come from a long line of papadam makers, passed down for years from mom to daughter. We always enjoy this tradition during Christmas. I will never forget all of the amazing times we had together. My sister Lexis always helps me through hard times and no matter what, she will always forgive me. I will never forget that we are sisters. Our bond is so strong, it will never break. We come from an amazing grandma. I will always remember the memories we shared with my grandparents. They will remain in our family.


Telling Our Stories Workshop Participants

The Best by Victor My mom is the one who taught me everything I know. To me, she’s like the bright flame inside me. Everything and everyone I know is due to my mother. She is not like the rest of them. She does not need to be like the rest or to stand out to be the best.

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Grant Beacon Middle School Speaks!

Being Free by Breanna Take me to a place where I can be free, where I can be safe and show the world who I really am. I want the people who I love in my life. I want all the holidays in my life too.


Telling Our Stories Workshop Participants

Cinco de Mayo by Ezequiel Cinco de Mayo brings fun to my family. and reminds me of how important they are for me. My parents are the best I could ask for. They are fun and awesome. My mom’s quesadillas are amazing. They bring power to my family. I am chilaquiles. I bring the fun to the family guiding their power to future. I am made of masa, chile, pollo, and love.

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My True Home by Jesus Take me to a place where there is unity. I say to myself, “The answer is closer than you think.� It is also a place where I can be safe, comfortable, and with my family. It is my home, the place where my family and I unite, despite being overshadowed by a huge tree and big factories. It is hard to think a beat-up trailer is a place you can feel like this. But in reality, wherever my family is, that is where I will always be at home, whether in a mansion or a beat-up, old trailer. My home is my family, not my house.


Telling Our Stories Workshop Participants

Familia in My Heart by Mario I remember my abuelita before she died. She was sweeter than candy. She always helped the family. My dad and uncles looked up to her when they were growing up. I lost a cousin who only had 5 minutes of life. His body is in a golden bottle sitting next to the Virgensita de Guadalupe. My uncle left my family a year ago and we will see him under my abuelitas cajon in the cementerio. Mi familia is always in my corazon.

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Grant Beacon Middle School Speaks!

Sports by Kimberly Being an athlete is hard. You do not exactly have to be flexible. The point is to do what you love. It will always cheer you up to do something you enjoy. Your time will not be wasted if you like being an athlete. It is your passion. It is your life. If you love sports, you always will no matter what. So follow your dreams.


Telling Our Stories Workshop Participants

Looking in the Mirror by Emanuel When I look in the mirror, I see myself. I see myself in 20 years. I see a man who has dignity and responsibility. I see a man that comes home every day to his kids. He gives them love and a roof over their head with these hands that are bleeding, from what he has to carry. Then, I realize. It is not me, it is my dad.

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Grant Beacon Middle School Speaks!

Our Food by Mateo I am the delicious and enjoyable quiche my aunt makes with cheese, sausage, and love. The smell reminds me of how hungry it really makes me. I come from something that was made ten years ago. It reminds me of my family and all the hard work my aunt and mom put in to make something filled with love. I will always remember how each crunchy, chewy bite fills me with warmth, passion, and strength. I will never forget the times it brought all my family in Colorado together. It is our link from the past to where we are now.


Telling Our Stories Workshop Participants

Person Looking Back at Me by Ava I am improving, working hard to be who I am today. I work even harder to keep my reputation, to be accepted by my community. Because when I am alone, I feel like I am not, that I have no one to go to. But I know that I will continue being an amazing person with wonderful friends and family. And for myself, I want to recognize my own reflection, look in the mirror and say, “I am proud to be me.� So I will stay true to myself and be proud of the person I see staring back at me.

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Grant Beacon Middle School Speaks!

On the Court by Mateo If it’s a match, game, practice, or even a point, tennis is my life. Tennis to me is also like a tree, growing. The population playing the sport keeps getting bigger, bigger, and bigger. Playing tennis is like the whole world to me. With a tennis racquet and tennis ball, you are ready to face the challenge. If I were to lose a match, I would stand my ground, and try to overcome my next one. Whether I were to win or lose, I will still I love this sport and life.


Profile for Cafe Cultura

Grant Beacon Middle School Speaks  

Book for Grant Beacon Middle School Speaks! (published 11/5/14)...participants in Cafe Cultura's "Telling Our Stories" workshop series perfo...

Grant Beacon Middle School Speaks  

Book for Grant Beacon Middle School Speaks! (published 11/5/14)...participants in Cafe Cultura's "Telling Our Stories" workshop series perfo...

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