Latin Flavor Spices Up Love Auditorium El Grito De Poetas Visits Colgate

Festive Latin-American music played in Love Auditorium on the evening of Thursday, November 3, easily passing the time leading up to a performance by El Grito De Poetas, a diverse group of seven Latino and Latina poets visiting Colgate from New York City. Just before the show started, the host of the event asked the audience to “move closer please, the energy is higher if we’re all closer together,” inspiring excitement and anticipation for a great show.

The group did not disappoint. Rather than waste any time on preliminary introductions, El Grito De Poetas launched straight into their 15-act set. The first act served as an introduction of sorts for the five members participating, and it expressed a mix­ture of poetry, hip-hop and culture, the unique flavor this troupe prides itself on. This flavor was celebrated in each of the subsequent acts, and the performers kept the audience’s interest with variations on style and delivery.

Each poem in the set was both simi­lar to and different from the others; the variation made for a truly engaging perfor­mance. Some pieces were performed as so­los whereas others involved as many as five members. Several numbers were set to music or encompassed more of a lyrical element than others. One performance even had the attention-grabbing format of a mother’s one-sided argument with an audition panel. The originality of each successive piece enlivened the performance.

A striking sense of cultural identity created an underlying continuity to the performance set. Despite the slight tweaks and adaptations from poem to poem, each one was relevant to the obvious theme of issues of Latino identity both in and out of the context of a modern American society.

The poets’ passionate deliveries and gripping stories caught the audience’s attention, such that it was hard to believe a full hour had elapsed by the time we gave the final round of applause. The show didn’t end with the poetry, though. After real introductions were made, the leader of El Grito De Poetas, Chance, graciously led the rest of the group in answering questions from the audience. We learned the members’ hometowns and artistic inspirations, as well as how performing this kind of poetry has strengthened their personal relationships to their different cultures.

El Grito De Poetas (“The Screaming Poet” in English) is a group of seven Latino and Latina poets. The members Advocate of Wordz, Chance, Chilo, Majestik Originality, Simply Rob, Tito and True are a blend of teachers, performers, activists and poets. They are centered in New York City, but each member has strong ties to a diverse blend of Latin cultures. As the group says on their website, “We are firmly committed to spreading knowledge of our various cul­tures, heritage and traditions through neo-modern traditional style of spoken word.” The Colgate community certain­ly benefited from hearing the work of these passion-driven young artists with a proactive message speaking to greater issues of culture and identity.

This event, sponsored by Colgate’s Latin American Students Organization, Women’s Studies Department, English Department and Educational Studies Department, was most notable for the group members’ obvious devotion to their troupe, their art and their message, and the audience couldn’t help but watch their performance with admiration and respect.

Contact Claire Aziz at

[email protected].