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Poetic voices educate immigrant choices

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More than 85 people attended a poetry benefit at the Guild Theater on April 21, 2012 to raise funds for the “Que Llueva Café” scholarship which aims to support the dreams, hopes, and aspirations of college bound undocumented students so they can earn their college degree and allow their hard work and sacrifice to persevere.

Thirty scholars were chosen holistically by a panel of community volunteers through CORE, Chicano Organizing and Research in Education earlier this month. Every year, the group aims to raise $15,000 to help undocumented scholars working towards higher education.  Recipients live everywhere in the United States, not just in California.

“When we first put this scholarship together five years ago, there was a lot of hate,” Miguel Cordova, a state worker at Department of Education admits.  He said some of the board members endured threats for moving the controversial scholarship forward. 

“I think there is a great deal of fear.  We have since come a long way towards bridging the gap for equality in education.” 

He wishes that he could provide help to all 1,400 scholars who apply yearly.  Their stories are enduring, but the group just does not have all the funds required to help them all. The applications go through at least five reviews until a decision is made.

The benefit is one of the many that the group organizes for the year which raised $13,000 so far. They are well on their way for their goal with one more fundraiser planned late in 2012.

Francisco Alarcon, Julia Connor, JoAnn Anglin, Nancy Aide Gonzalez were some of the educators who recited prose.  Other poets include Betty Sanchez, Sean Penna, Rosalba Gabriela Ruvalcaba, and Paco Marquez. Musicians, Patrick Grizzell, Cynthia Llano Faulkner and Joaquin Clemente also gained spectators attention. 

The evening is proof that poets come from all walks of life.  From social workers, to lawyers, musicians, to visual artists, they paint the picture representing the meaning of the American dream.

"Poetry makes business sense,” said John Martinez.  “In poetry the use of similes communicates the ideas that we are trying to set forth.  I use similes daily when I’m closing," said John Martinez, an attorney who rededicated himself to writing rhyme at age fifty.

After four children and half a dozen grandchildren, he decided to pick up the passion he left behind at twenty.  “It’s never too late,” he adds.  His wife Rosa America said that he used to write poems when they first met as a young couple starting out in life.  When you follow ambition, work and family responsibilities have a way of taking over your life.

Here is Martinez in one of his rare public appearances.

And just like many influential older brothers, he was able to convince his younger sibling Ramiro Martinez, a visual artist to also share his take on literacy in the open mic later in the night.

Ramiro’s poem can be viewed here.




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