Students express themselves at first poetry night event

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Alumnus David Mendoza performs an original piece, “Come Save Me,” at Raza Poetry and Open Mic Sept. 26 in Loftin. The event was organized by the Cheshyre Cheese Club and a part of the Raza Heritage Month. The next open mic will be 6-9 p.m. Nov. 21 in Loftin. Anai Ramos

Guest poets bring laughter and empowerment with performances.

By Asia Andrews

About 35 students and former students came out to the first open mic event of the semester Sept. 26 to read original works, support their friends or to simply experience the creativity on display.

The writing center and the Cheshyre Cheese Club hosted the poetry night for Raza Heritage Month in the round of Loftin Student Center.

José Deamda, a recent graduate of the University of the Incarnate Word, recited two poems titled “Knots” and “12 Line Salute to the Wicked Wages of These Unwarranted Wars.”

Deamda, an army veteran who served in Afghanistan 2007-2008, said, “Poetry helps me get satisfaction to things with no logical answer.”

Psychology freshman Beth Domingez also shared poems titled “Self-control,” “Hostage” and “Why Me?”

Domingez said she had written some of the poetry early this year when she was at a sad point in her life.

“I wanted to get my thoughts out of my head and on paper,” she said of her poetry based on her relationships.

Cheshyre Cheese President Tone Guerrero, music business sophomore, presented his work by asking Jane Focht-Hansen, the academic liaison for the writing center, to read it for him.

Focht-Hansen is also the sponsor of Cheshyre Cheese.

Guerrero is legally blind and can see out of only one eye.

He was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a non-infectious disease that deteriorates a person’s eyesight. Surgery improved the condition in one eye, but he also goes by voice recognition.

Guerrero took a creative writing class at this college and later used his condition as inspiration to write his poetry.

Five other people presented original works. Presenters included a theater graduate who is a comedian, an American Sign Language and interpreting freshman who gave a “sermon,” and a former art major who performed an original song.

Speakers were allowed to perform jokes, poems, rants, songs and dances.

After a brief intermission where food and refreshments were provided, guest poets were introduced.

The first poet, Fernando Flores, is a former journalism student at this college and reporter for The Ranger.

Flores has been writing poetry since he was young.

“I picked up a knack for writing,” he said.

He later went into teaching to inspire a love of writing in others before retiring and continuing to write poetry.

Flores read a couple of humorous poems titled “Ode to Tortillas,” “Cable Inferno,” and “Saving Jesus on the West Side,” that he had written and published in his book, “Red Accordion.”

The second guest poet was Xelena Gonzalez, a librarian who has also worked for Haven for Hope, which provides housing and services for the homeless.

She is also the winner of the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award and an American Indian Youth Literature Award.

Gonzaléz also started at The Ranger and first met Flores at a mural blessing on the West Side, which partly inspired his poem “Saving Jesus on the West Side.”

Gonzaléz presented poems for various age groups and student authors along with longer poems from her book “All Around Us.”

Gonzaléz will also be at the Luminaria Contemporary Arts Festival 7 a.m-noon Nov. 9 in HemisFair Plaza, where she will participate in interactive card-reading.

Erica DeLaRosa, the final guest poet, is an arts education advocate.

Originally, she was a theater major but said she didn’t think she “fit the stereotype.”

DeLaRosa was moved by spoken word in college and using her theater background, incorporates music and movement with her poems.

She performed and produced her own performances in New York City.

DeLaRosa is also involved in Gemini Ink, a writing organization that she said “helps the writer use their voice as a source of empowerment and to tell their story.”

The next open mic event will be at 6-9 p.m. Oct. 24, celebrating the term “Nevermore” from the gothic poem “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe.

A costume contest will determine the scariest costume, the funniest costume, the most creative costume and the cheesiest costume.

For more information, contact Focht-Hansen at 210-486-1436 or at


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