Activism

Poet Yosimar Reyes on the power of personal narratives

Your story matters, says poet Yosimar Reyes, who denies the dominant narrative of United States citizenship, that "real Americans" are blue-eyed, blond-haired, white, upper-middle class men fully assimilated into the American Dream.

This isn't historical; this isn't reality, he says:This is a nation founded on immigrants. Living in the United States is about more than having a social security number; it is about connecting to a rich cultural tradition. For Reyes, that cultural heritage spans the stories that his grandmother passed down about Mexico all the way to James Baldwin's writing. Reyes is a constant reader who rejects the idea that poetry requires training; poetry is accessible. Anyone can write it. Despite risking arrest and deportation, he travels across the country performing and teaching others to connect with their own histories, and he will be in Boulder today for Undocuqueer Voices: Stories of Growing Up Queer and Undocumented. In advance of his appearance, Westword spoke with Reyes about his journey as a writer, performer and teacher.

See also: Queer undocumented artist Julio Salgado speaks out

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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris