Salvadorian writer Cynthia Guardado presented her work, a remembrance of her traumatic experiences growing up facing racism and violence, on Feb. 13 at the W. Keith & Janet Kellogg University Art Gallery.
Guardado read five of her poems during the poetry reading and stopped in between each one to quickly summarize the essence of each entry.
Her poems carry consistent themes of immigration, racism, her hometown and trauma.
She performed each poem with such infectious sentiment, yet spoke with so much humor and free spirit. She was unapologetically herself.
“I write from such a place of pain, that there’s no way that all of that doesn’t come back when I performed,” Guardado explained.
Her mother and father are both from El Salvador and immigrated to Inglewood at a very young age.
Her first poem was about her mother and the hospital where she gave birth to Guardado.
Back then, women of color faced racism and she tells her mother’s story as an immigrant finding her way in her early 20s.
After she was finished with her readings, she opened up a Q&A for her audience members, where she revealed how she became the person she is today.
She first pursued her bachelor’s degree and when the time came for her graduation date, it turned out she was missing a few units and dropped out of school altogether.
She then moved to Washington, D.C., where she had a desk job and realized that was not the life she pictured for herself.
“The journey to poetry shifts in the whole journey to Washington, D.C,” Guardado said. “It all started with poetry, and grief.”
She then quickly faced a traumatic experience with her uncle passing away, which is when she turned to writing about her family.
Once she started she was able to make connections from one experience to another.
“I always say that if it wasn’t for my poetry, I wouldn’t have my sanity,” Guardado said.
She then went back to school, finished her degree and received her master’s degree.
Since then, she has published her poetry collection “Endeavor,” a manuscript “Cenizas” and is currently working as a professor of English at Fullerton College.
Her parents, she said, were extremely supportive of her writing and she feels that there has always been this creativity running in her family. She was just the first to do something about it.
The audience was blown away by her performance and storytelling. Many could relate to her experiences.
“Well I really like the poem that she said about when her grandma passed away,” said Ivonne Anzures, a third-year gender, ethnic multicultural studies student. “I think that one really spoke to me because as she was saying it, I could picture my dad and my grandpa.”
“I think that when they see you, if I’m not mistaken, that they see a role model,” said Alvaro Huerta, professor of ethnic and women’s studies and urban and regional planning.
Overall, Guardado managed to surprise everyone with her performance and devotion to her writing.
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