By Jenna Shelton
Award-winning poet, speaker, actor and author, Carlos Andres Gomez, joined Lewis and Clark Community College on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020 at 3 p.m., along with seven other community colleges in the State of Illinois through the Illinois Community College Student Activities Association collaboration planned with Ms. Sue Webster from Richland College.
Gomez is a proud Colombian American Latinx and father who won the 2020 Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry, the 2018 Broken River Prize and the 2019 Foreword INDIES Gold Medal in Poetry, the 2020 IndieReader Discovery Award, 2020 International Book Award for Poetry, along with many other awards and a #1 SPD bestseller that was on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, TV One’s Verses and Flow and Spike Lee’s Inside Man with Denzel Washington.
A proud graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, Gomez, who used to be a social worker and a public school teacher, has traveled to more than 1,000 colleges and universities for performances, had the keynotes for almost 700 schools in 47 U.S. states and has headlined in shows in 25 countries across five continents.
Gomez achieved another sort of fame—viral—when his poems “Where are you REALLY from?” and “What Latino Looks Like” went gangbusters online, collecting over two million views each! Thankfully, the students at the event were lucky enough to be able to see Gomez perform these live online and hear the moving and strong words as they come flowing out of the master of the words mouth.
Gomez is known for pushing the boundaries and opening eyes to situations others may not be aware of, or choose to remain ignorant of, by making sure his work engages inclusion, equality, diversity, healthy masculinity and gender equity. His work is enlightened by the foremost practices in diversity education and employs facilitated dialogue, storytelling and interactive exchange. All of this, along with spoken word poetry, improv and humor, and Gomez has created one of the most sought-after and captivating programs one will ever want to see.
Along with the two poems Gomez is most famous for, he also performed others such as, “Gifted”; “If a Princess Tries to Kidnap Your Daughter”, which he said he obviously wrote for his daughter; and “Hand Stitch”, a poem he had written about holding his friend’s hand and the stigma that comes with holding another man, along with a few others. Students also had the opportunity during the show to interact with Gomez, in which he may occasionally ask a question and students had the chance to answer.
After the show, there was a Question & Answer time, in which Gomez was available for questions or comments. Gomez was asked if one wanted to become a writer, was there any advice that he could recommend, to which Gomez replied, “Find ways to actively do it. Go out and do it, like go out into the community and find yourself a group of people, find a mentor. Someone you can exchange work with. You can trade your work with them and hold each other accountable. You have to be able to tell each other as good as something is that something else isn’t. Give yourself permission to write crap, because you’re going to write crap. Don’t be hard on yourself because it’s important to write that crap, it’s there, you’re going to find the good stuff. Think of it this way, you write eight pages of crap, but out of all that you pull two or three things that are awesome! It was totally worth it to get to that gold wasn’t it; sometimes you gotta work to get to the gold.”
Gomez’s newest book, “Fractures”, was just released on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, and can be found on Amazon for $16.95 with free Prime Delivery.
Featured image by Maria Martinez Nogueda