Roberto German 00:01
Welcome to Our Classroom. In this space, we talk about education, which is inclusive of, but not limited to what happens in schools. Education is taking place whenever and wherever we are willing to learn. I am your host, Roberto German. And Our Classroom is officially in session. In this episode of Our Classroom, we're exploring language, identity, and power with poetry featuring Doctora Carla España, Doctora Luz Yadira Herrera. Carla España is a middle, great language arts teacher, literacy consultant, researcher, author, and co-founder of the En Comunidad Collective. Her love of stories and teaching comes from her roots in Chile, and it has been nurtured by hundreds of teachers and students across schools in New York City and beyond. Luz Yadira Herrera is a teacher, researcher, author, and co-founder of the En Comunidad Collective. Doctora Herrera has over 16 years of experience, the education of immersion bilinguals in both mainstream and bilingual settings. Started her teaching career in New York City public schools teaching the merger bilinguals in K through six in Harlem. Let's get it in with Doctoras Carla, Luz. Alright, [inaudible 00:01:36] Yes, y'all. And hey, there's going be a lot of bilingual talk. If you don't like it, get out. All right? We here now. We repping. We're repping hard. This is Our Classroom and we welcome all types of diversity, including language diversity. So you going feel that today. Because I have the las doctoras. The dynamic, the awesome, the heavy hitters, Doctora Carla Espana y Doctora Luz Yadira Herrera [inaudible 00:02:07].
Carla España 02:11
[inaudible 00:02:09] I love that way of presenting us. We need that all the time. I love the energy. [inaudible 00:02:15] So thanks for the invitation.
Luz Yadira Herrera 02:22
Roberto German 02:23
[inaudible 00:02:25]. So today we're gonna be talking about Exploring Language, Identity And Power With Poetry. Ooh, I'm excited to hear from y'all and to learn from y'all in Our Classroom. So, hey, let's go ahead and dig in. The two of you are the authors of, En Comunidad. Let me flash this bad boy real quick. En Comunidad: Lessons for Centering the Voices and Experiences of Bilingual Latinx Students. This text is rich and we gonna get into some of the content, but let's start with the cover, which was designed by Natalie or Natalie, I don't know how she pronounces it.
Carla España 03:11
Yeah. Natalie. Natalie.
Roberto German 03:12
Okay. Natalie G Cruz. And the-- my-- my question is, what do you find poetic about the book cover? Because it's-- it really draws me in. And I-I was wrestling, I was just thinking. You know, when I was drafting my questions, I'm like, man, I gotta say something about this book cover 'cause it's beautiful. It's dope. Like the colors, the-- the-- the physical character-- characteristics, right? So there's representation there. And I feel the affirmation and whatnot. O-over here, when I-- when I look at this design, it seems like the wing of a butterfly to me. Th-- there's a lot going on. And you got the flowers and whatnot, some flowers. Th-- this is beautiful. This cover is beautiful. Y'all have a beautiful work. The text is amazing. This is so resourceful. Like, I'm like, yo, I'm gonna have to go back into full-time classroom teacher mode. Just, you know, to be able to use this and-- and-- and collect some data. But let's-- let's talk about this book cover. What do you find poetic about this book cover?
Carla España 04:20
I'm so happy you're shouting out the illustrator, Natalie G Cruz [inaudible 00:04:25]. So my sister-in-law. I-I love her work. I appreciate her listening to the goals that we had with this book. And I'll talk about the flowers, and I know Luz can talk about the-- the-- the butterfly. But for us, it was important to consider the legacy, our ancestors, those that like shoulders, which we stand upon, and those who've come before us. And we think a lot about the practice of honoring those who've come before us. And the sunflower is a way that I honor one of my [inaudible 00:05:01] who passed away when she was very young and who's been a central figure in my life. And we were also thinking about the flowers that we use on our altars in-- in honoring those who passed away. And so we wanted to have that representation as something that was honoring the past, but also a way of celebration. So that for me is poetic thinking about that process for us of-- of honoring those who've come before. But Natalie's done a lot there with the-- with the image of the butterfly and what that represents and the child being there. And it wasn't like us, but it was the child. So I know Luz, Luz, you wanna talk about that?
Luz Yadira Herrera 05:40
And we had a couple of concepts that we, that Natalie sketched off us, and we picked that one because it was just really about centering the child, right? Like the-- the child in that cover is-- is who we wanna center in our work of children, our kids. And, of course, the butterfly has a-- has a deep significance in-- in our-- in Latinx culture. I think in general, just the-- the meaning behind like the butterfly and its representation with migration, right? And also changing or just you know, evolving in the dyna-- the dynamicism of it all. And so we wanted to capture that in the cover.
Roberto German 06:21
Natalie certainly did. Certainly did. This is-- this is just a beautiful work. So I appreciate the thoughtfulness behind that and all-- all the connections that inspired this cover. It's, you know, this is the first thing that people look at, right? So you-- you have to have something that draws the reader in. So props two to three of you for that. All right, so-- so you, you know, I-I was looking at chapter six, so I was, you know, I was jumping around the-- the whole book and I-I struggled to come up with some questions because there was just so many topics that we could get into, and the layout was so efficient and I was just like, I don't even know what to ask because this is pretty much like, you could just open it and just start applying, right? Read and apply. Read and apply.
Carla España 07:20
I love that you went with chapter six. The-- the poetry one.
Roberto German 07:23
Yes. Yes. I was like, I had a moment where I was like, "Oh wait, boom." Light bulb went off. Like this, I have to talk about this 'cause it-- it's-- it's in my wheelhouse too. And so you-- you have this amazing list of poets and poems and tech sets. Great that you're offering these resources. And it's listed in chapter six of the book, and we're focusing on chapter six. If you could expand that list, who and what would you add? Because I would imagine that there were probably folks that got left out or certain titles that got left out. It's like, yo, you could only have so much. All right. You can't have a whole chapter of just listing poets and-- and poems and Texas. But if you had the opportunity to add on, who-- who would you add on? What would you add on?
Luz Yadira Herrera 08:12
Carla España 08:13
I'll start with my-- you wanna go Luz? Oh, you wanna go?
Luz Yadira Herrera 08:18
No, go ahead. And then I'll say something about how we wrote chapter six without include any real poetry in there, because we couldn't really. So I'll talk about that. But go ahead, Carla.
Carla España 08:27
So for me, my latest poetry read, and I've been reading it with all my students at Brooklyn College this fall semester, is Elisabet Velasquez's Y si lo logramos. Una historia nuyorican in English is When We Make It. When We Make It. And it's because I'm based in Brooklyn teaching Brooklyn the author's local Brooklyn, and the-- the way that Elisabet uses language and talks about issues like gentrification, trauma, family intergenerational trauma I-It has caused us to have such deep conversations with my students who are pre-service teachers as well as undergrads who are considering education. And they've all been processing like, 'Wow, this is deep, and this poet in this in novel-- YA novel and verse is helping us think about those topics.' So for me, I think I would like to expand with more of this latest work, because that's one I've been digging in.
Roberto German 09:24
That's awesome. I'm pretty sure we have a copy of that here.
Luz Yadira Herrera 09:28
Yeah, of course. And I mean, that just came out this year, right? So we have so much. We're so fortunate to be in a time where we have this rich children's literature, this rich-- rich YA middle grade literature, right? And so I feel like even between the time that we were writing En Comunidad and now, there's so much that's been published and we're so thankful for that because now we can write like They Call Her [inaudible 00:09:52], the-- the sequel David Bulls by David Bulls, right? Like, we are so excited to be able to-- to continue or expand our work now that we're working with districts and schools just across the nation and be able to share these latest works with them. So it's not-- it didn't make it to the book, right, because one was published, but we're so fortunate to be able to share in many other ways our capacities.
Carla España 10:17
And if I could also add, because since I republished the book, I taught sixth and seventh, I taught seventh and eighth grade English. And with my seventh and eighth graders, we listened to The Poetry Unbound podcast. And The Poetry Unbound podcast gave us a nice format as-- as a model for the-- my middle school students to create their own poetry podcast. And we listened to poems in that-- in that podcast that were like transformative for them as middle school students. So I would wanna bring them in. So I would go to my poetry [inaudible 00:10:46]. And we had [inaudible 00:10:48] poem there. We had a lot of poems that helped them consider not only their-- their position as middle grade students, but also how they relate to poetry at them-- themselves as-- as writers, as readers. So I'd love to bring that in and doing some work around writing the script for your own poetry podcast to talk about poems that you either write yourself, whether you're kind of interpreting that other poets have written.
Roberto German 11:11
I'm elated to hear that you're doing this work with the students. It's so important, so necessary. So I-I wanna do something different. And-- and this idea was inspired by your recommendation on-- on page 153. All right?
Carla España 11:27
Alright, with the citations. Alright, look at you.
Roberto German 11:30
Hey. Hey. You know, we getting there.
Carla España 11:31
You did the reading.
Roberto German 11:33
Yeah, yeah. I do my homework around here. You know, we're-- we're-- we're not just inviting folks to shooting from the hip. You know, we-- we-- we're digging in, we're learning, growing, and giving props what props to do. And this is such a good text. I'm like, yeah, I-I really gotta draw from this. So I-I wanna use the guiding questions you offer to facilitate group discussion amongst us, right? And-- and you offered in the book to facilitate group discussions with students who have read poems in their set. And so I don't have a set of poems, but I do want to read my poem Café con Leche or I want us to read it from my upcoming book Blue Ink Tears. And then I want to ask you the guiding questions. And as you stated in your book, the discussion can address both the content of the poem with this focus on matters relating to bilingual identities and what the poem makes you feel, think, see and considerate. So we're going to model this for the teachers. All right? So those of you who don't have, En Comunidad or maybe you have it and you haven't actually started applying some of this rich content, we gonna model it for you today. And I'm excited to do so. Trust me, I was thinking about this. I'm like, how can I-- how can we do something different? I don't wanna ask you the questions that everybody else is asking you when you come on their podcast or whatnot. And that's, you know, props to everybody who's bringing you on and asking you the-- the same questions. But I wanna do something different. All right? So we're gonna-- we're gonna do this. So Carla, you're gonna have stances 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9. And Luz you'll have stances 2, 4, 6, and 8 of Café con Leche. And then I will ask us the guiding questions.
Luz Yadira Herrera 13:20
Carla España 13:22
All right, let's do this. I've-- I've never done an activity like this where the poet is right here, and I'm reading the poem in front of the poet. Like, this is not intimidating, but I'ma try. I'ma try.
Roberto German 13:31
No, you got this.
Carla España 13:40
Café con Leche Ah! The taste of café con leche blends of coffee and milk.
Luz Yadira Herrera 13:46
Island fresh beans imported to the states mixed form one from two.
Carla España 13:53
Old traditions held firm, introduced to customs a new.
Luz Yadira Herrera 14:00
Azúcar melts into the coffee and milk.
Carla España 14:04
A compromise, a sweet flavor.
Luz Yadira Herrera 14:09
The dis-- the deliciousness of both sides. But...
Carla España 14:14
That cafe cannot assimilate to the point of only being leche it loses its essence.
Luz Yadira Herrera 14:23
Carla España 14:27
Heritage in each drink. [inaudible 00:14:35] café con leche.
Roberto German 14:37
Ooh, that was a dramatic pause. [inaudible 00:14:44] You know what's funny, Luz? I just shot a video for this last Friday and I had to do like seven takes on that one line. The deliciousness. I'm like, I don't know, it's something about us who speaks Spanish and then like, trying to say a word like deliciousness.
Carla España 15:01
Well, just cause you-- you trying to say delicioso, it looks like so close. So you're like, I just wanna say maybe your heart is like, I wanna say [inaudible 00:15:08] delicioso.
Luz Yadira Herrera 15:10
I don't say that often on my-- in my daily life, but I'm gonna have to now. Delicious.
Roberto German 15:14
Right, right. Well, let's-- yeah, let's work through these questions now. Ooh, thank you for reading that. It sounded so good. I might have to ask y'all to like do the audio book for Blue Ink Tears. So--
Carla España 15:28
Yo, that's my dream. That's on my list. I would love to do audio books. I'm putting it out there. I wanna do audio books.
Roberto German 15:33
You can do it. You know, you-- you-- you got that-- you got the New York voice, you know. I think-- I think it'll work for you. So what parts of the poem stand out for you and why? And by the way, like, this doesn't have to be that you each answer every question.
Luz Yadira Herrera 15:54
I-I can start. So I like-- the part that stands out to me is the part where it says, cafe cannot assimilate to the point of only being leche it loses its essence.' So something about assimilation and losing of our essence is standing out to me right here.
Roberto German 16:18
How does the poem make you feel?
Carla España 16:24
There's, for me, there's a sense of nostalgia. Like remembering of, for me, the-- the my-- the own sense and-- and what I associate with my move from Chile to the states. And for me it wasn't café con leche it was [inaudible 00:16:39]. It was like té con leche. Drinking tea is like a big thing in my Chilean family. And so it, for me, it just made me feel like nostalgia like this-- this longing, this yearning for remembering this memory of my childhood and the transition between one place and another. And again, there's this-- this feeling of like, joy, but there's also this feeling of I don't wanna say like a bittersweet, but it's this feeling of longing-- longing for that past that I-I-- I'm associating with this poem with my [inaudible 00:17:19]. Maybe is 'cause my parents today, they just landed in Chile and I haven't been there in years, so I'm kind of in my feelings today. And I'm wearing-- wait, wait, I'm wearing my shirt that says 'Chile.' So-- so reading this poem, which is like very timely for me, so it's also this feeling of have, I lost something by being raised here as an immigrant? And what am I holding onto so I don't miss out on the essence of what it means to be Chile [inaudible 00:17:44], you know? So all my life I've been like battling with this question and this-- this poem hit me right there. I was like, yes.
Roberto German 17:52
Wow. Wow. Man, thanks for sharing. That brought out a lot. Ooh, that's beautiful. And nice shirt, by the way.
Carla España 18:02
What's also, 'cause this World Cup season and Chile didn't make the World Cup. So I'm like, I'ma cheer from Morocco, you know?
Roberto German 18:07
Yo, it's all good. Don't worry about it. Republica Dominicana didn't make the World Cup either.
Carla España 18:15
So we-- we all-- we all cheering for Morocco now
Roberto German 18:17
How did the poet use language, English-Spanish word choice to develop their ideas or make you feel a certain way?
Luz Yadira Herrera 18:29
Hmm. I mean, of course, I love the trans languaging in this poem. We-- we talk a lot about trans languaging in our work and how it's so important to create these spaces where we can invite our students, right, to show up as our full selves, to bring all of their linguistic practices into-- into-- into our classrooms and into our any, you know, spaces. And so I think that when I-- when I think about it as a teacher lens, I wanna ask, you know, I wanna be-- be able to tap into the author's perspective. Like why-- why [inaudible 00:19:05] why those words? And I think it was-- it was very strategic, right? It was very intentional. And I just, you know, I-I'm always curious about those-- those decisions.
Roberto German 19:20
You'll have an opportunity to ask the author. Right now, the author's holding back.
Carla España 19:24
Luz Yadira Herrera 19:25
I know. Well, there you go. Why did you [inaudible 00:19:27]? Why did you [inaudible 00:19:28]?
Roberto German 19:29
No, no, no, no, no. I'm holding back for the moment. We're gonna circle back. I wanna a-- I wanna get through these questions to hear from y'all, and then I'm gonna give you the floor to ask me whatever you wanna ask me.
Carla España 19:37
Okay, that's fair. That's fair. All right.
Roberto German 19:39
So how do the poets experiences compare with your own life?
Luz Yadira Herrera 19:46
Carla España 19:50
Yeah. I feel like I talked a little bit about that in my response earlier. So I'll leave it to you, Luz.
Luz Yadira Herrera 19:55
I think that what I hear, what I feel, what I hear, what comes through in this poem is, and I don't really-- I don't really know the full story, right? So I'm just going by what I see here. I don't really know your full story. But I see a lot of similarities in terms of just the experience. And Carla mentioned this already, right? The experience that we have when we belong to different places or to several places, right? And our-- our constant effort to seek that, which is our reminders from home and feel like home and feel like we belong. And you know, the-- the old traditions piece right here with mixing or, you know, introducing to the new traditions or new customs. Like, that's always our-- that's basically the-- the history of all of us, right? Thinking about how we hold on to those all traditions that are important to our families that make us who we are, but also thinking about new ways of being that can also just enrich our lives and enrich our futures and our, you know, our-- the future generations while-- while giving homage to our ancestors, our past.
Roberto German 21:17
Yeah, there's-- there's a lot. There's so much going on there. How-- what did you learn from this poem?
Carla España 21:27
There's such a sense of, that comes across for me, the sense of like, here I am, like [inaudible 00:21:35], like I'm taking up space. I am proud. I am not gonna lose my essence. I'm bringing in from traditions from where I'm coming from. And so using the café con leche as a way to, it's basically for me it's like commentary on the diaspora, right? Commentary on those who've had to leave home and talking about that through the café con leche. And-- and just for each piece it's-- it-- it-- it's kind of a little nudge for the-- those of us who-- who continue living in this tension. And what does that mean to not lose your essence? What does it mean to [inaudible 00:22:12] like, to savor this new identity that I have been forming in this new place? And the way you end with heritage and each drink the café con leche I love that it ends in Spanish. I love that it ends with the title. And-- and it's like remaining rooted to that and not forgetting your roots. So for me, like thinking about teaching this poem, I-I learned that I can provide students an opportunity to talk about their feelings about movement or about how do they feel about their identities, whether it's as immigrants or as forming an identity that's tied to geography or-- or movement. Or, and-- and then just-- and taking that, like I see the parallels in a T-chart. Like write that out as a free response prompt and then say, is there anything in your life that you can describe it as, is there food? Is there a song accustom that would help you talk about that tension as the poet did with café con leche? So I'm already thinking about the lessons, you know.
Roberto German 23:18
As a good teacher. Like a good teacher one step ahead, doing some planning. That's awesome. And-- and so what more do you want to learn after reading this poem?
Luz Yadira Herrera 23:33
Hmm. I-I feel like I wanna learn about how-- how you, you know, the-- how the poet-- like the experiences that led to this-- to this writing. How the poet, you know, sort of shares some of these ideas and how maybe it-- it shows up in other-- in other writing and in other poems as well. That's what I would be interested in-- in learning about. So I'm thinking about like, the tuck set, you know, what's next? What comes with this?
Roberto German 24:14
Y'all such teachers. I love it. I love it. Well, let's work backwards. I'll-- I'll-- I'll start. First of all, let me say thank you for participating in this-- this activity. Thank you for creating this, right? For coming up with these guiding questions. When I was looking at this, I'm like, yo, teachers got no excuses. Teachers got no excuses. Y'all laid it out. This is just like open up, redo. And-- and it's often what teachers are asking for, right? Like, 'Hey, I don't know how to do, I don't know how to do.' Well, here you go. You have a resource that a-allows you to just take in the information and then literally execute. You know, do what you have in front of you. And so I really a-appreciate the thoughtfulness that y'all put into crafting each chapter and providing these concrete examples, offering tech sets. The-- the whole nine, such a beautiful design. As-- as to the-- the-- the questions you have, and we'll start with the last one. Sorry, reiterated.
Carla España 25:29
So the experiences that led you to...
Roberto German 25:32
Ah, that's what it.
Carla España 25:33
Write this poem. Yeah.
Roberto German 25:34
Yeah. That's what it was. And then you said something about-- Luz, you had said something about, you know, if there are other pieces that connect with that. I think that's what you said.
Carla España 25:42
Yeah. There're like other texts. Like if you-- if you were to pair this poem with a video, a song, like what would be your song that would company this poem?
Luz Yadira Herrera 25:51
And also the-- the intentionality. Like, why did you choose to, you know, the strategy behind, like, in terms why you chose azúcar [inaudible 00:26:01]. You know, things like that.
Roberto German 26:03
Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, no, no. That's great. So I wrote this years ago. I-I don't remember exactly when, and it's been through different versions, right? But even through the different versions, like the essence has remained the same. This represents my reality in terms of being bilingual, bicultural growing up here. Like I was born and raised in the United States, but I grew up in Lawrence, Massachusetts. And Lawrence has the highest population of Dominicans outside of New York City. And so Lawrence is very much unique, 'cause you're talking about like, this is high concentration of Dominicans within seven square miles. A hundred thousand people, seven square miles living in triple decker’s, housing projects. And so we are very connected. And you know, what you see in Lawrence is-- is, you know, Santo Domingo Bakery, [inaudible 00:27:11]. You know they renamed Broadway, [inaudible 00:27:18]. You know, like Lawrence is like the Dominican presence. Dominican culture is very much present there. And then I-I would also go to Dominican Republic periodically with my family. And even, you know, when I was old enough to go on my own, then I would go on my own. Like, it was important to me to maintain that sense of connection, continue to learn a-about that aspect of my identity, my culture, my heritage, while also navigating all of this here and then feeling like I was never fully in one or the other, you know? And we-- we could get so deep into the why, right? You know, and I don't know if we'll have enough space and time, but I say like, you know, colorism is a big piece of that. You know, and unfortunately, that's definitely impacted like how I feel sometimes about my people, how I feel about my culture. Like, because of the way some people feel about me just based on what they see, based on my skin color, based on my flow. It's like, then you get into the whole, oh, you know, like [inaudible 00:28:24] and I-- but you know, there's-- there's this thing about, you know, being black, right? We know amongst Dominican, like there's-- there's-- there's this thing as it relates to blackness and black denial that is very real. And it's something like, I continually to this day, like I got-- I got-- I got so many stories of stuff that just comes up, like I'm provoked. And I'm just like seated at the YMCA and you know, parent next to me and we engage a conversation. I'm like, [inaudible 00:28:55]. And you know, and we're talking and they, 'Oh,' you know, [inaudible 00:29:01] I didn't know you're Dominican. You don't look Dominican.' I'm like, 'What does that mean? And where does that come from? And what makes you think you look more Dominican than I do?'
Right? So, you know, so-- so part of it, like going back to a word that was used earlier is like, I've always felt this tension, which is why I never-- I never fully felt and still don't feel like I'm fully cafe, but I'm definitely not fully leche, right? I'm-- I'm like, I'm not-- I'm not like, yo, I'm like, [inaudible 00:29:33]. But I'm also not like, [inaudible 00:29:37]. I'm like, I'm-- I'm this beautiful blend. And-- and azúcar allows that, you know, it-- it brings-- it brings both together. Well, the way I used it is that it-- it brings both together. It-- it brings the cafe and leche together and it adds this sweetness 'cause like, I'm rich in who I am and I'm confident in my identity. You know, no matter what group accepts or doesn't accept me. Like, I understand that I'm this and this is beautiful. And so sugar's not the healthiest for you, but it is beautiful and it tastes great. So that-- that's part of where I was going with-- with-- with that-- with the azúcar and, you know, understanding like in the midst of, you know, compromising aspects of identity. Like you could see that as bad, but you know, for me it's only bad if like, there's this full compromise as opposed to this beautiful balance.
Luz Yadira Herrera 30:39
Thank you. Thank you for sharing that.
Carla España 30:42
Man, I need-- I need this for all the poems we read, right? I want like a little-- I want my little time with all the poets that we read.
Luz Yadira Herrera 30:49
Roberto German 30:52
Yeah. And-- and-- and then the other aspect of the question I wanna ask is in terms of like, other pieces that are connected. I have another piece titled Lengua in that same section. And that deals with my language identity and-- and sometimes not only what's going on in my head, but you know, what's-- what's happening in real time in terms of like, I-I-I know what this word means, but it's not coming out the way it's supposed to, you know? And-- and I'm not executing my Spanish, the, you know, the way it needs to be executed. Which, you know, then-- then sometimes makes me hesitant to, like, depending on who I'm with, right? And like how I feel they might judge me then they might meet me hesitant in terms of, you know, how much I'm using the Spanish or not using the Spanish. And then in, you know, different circles and it's more like a Spanglish thing, you know? So there-- there-- there is some segue there. And then there is another piece titled Spanish-- very, it's a [inaudible 00:31:57] and then it-- that addresses a different type of tension, which is the tension I feel in terms of like, wow, I'm, you know, I'm holding onto this thing and like, why is this so important for me to hold onto this thing? And like, oh wait, but you know, this also derived from colonization. So then there's that tension, you know? And-- and yo, when you read the book, you'll-- it-- it-- it comes together in-- in a-- in a wonderful way. Where, you know, I'm-- I'm wrestling with the realities of this tension, you know, while also embracing the beautiful aspects of it all.
Luz Yadira Herrera 32:33
Carla España 32:34
Can I also say that in-- in the chapter six, we give the for teaching poetry through healing, teaching, healing and resistance. And so we-- we-- we recommend for teachers to consider like, what is the poem teaching us about a certain topic and what is the poem resisting? Is there a certain dominant narrative that is being resisted? And then also what is the poem healing? Or how is the poem an example of healing or a process that we can engage in healing? And I feel like what you just described with those different poems that you shared with us definitely fit into like how I can teach with that framework.
Luz Yadira Herrera 33:12
Yeah. And to add to what-- your earlier question, I, you know, we need to add-- we need some of your work now so that we can share it. You know, and model it for teachers and our workshops and our future writing. So thank you for-- thank you for putting that in into the world. When is that coming out?
Roberto German 33:27
End of January. End of January 2023.
Luz Yadira Herrera 33:31
Roberto German 33:33
Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, it's-- it's been a long time coming. And really excited. I-I think that the-- the work that y'all do and-- and-- and the work that Lorena and I do as Multicultural Classroom, that there's-- there's a lot of alignment. You know, we-- we bring a lot of our bilingual bicultural experience in-- in-- into our work. And that's going to definitely be reflected in the book. And again, even just, like I said earlier, I had trouble focusing on like, what questions to ask y'all. 'Cause I'm like, man, there's so many things that we could talk about. Even the section you just mentioned, I was like, oh yeah, I'm gonna base my interview on this. But then I, you know, I'm reading some other stuff and I'm looking at the-- the-- the poets that you picked and the poems that you picked. And I'm like, wait, they picked some of my favorites. Like Langston Hughes and-- and Tupac Shakur Rose That Grew From Concrete. Like they-- even when you look at my book cover, like-- And this wasn't a conscious thing, you know, but after somebody pointed it out to me, I'm like, oh yeah, yeah. Like, my book cover has some parallels with Tupac's book cover for The Rose That Grew From Concrete. And again, it wasn't like, you know, I-- that-- that's what I was going for. That's just what came. But when you're inspired by, you know, all these wonderful people, some-- that-- the stuff would just come out naturally.
Luz Yadira Herrera 35:03
I hear that. Absolutely.
Roberto German 35:05
Yeah. So talking about inspiration, if you had the opportunity to have lunch with any poet, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Luz Yadira Herrera 35:21
[inaudible 00:35:20] This is a hard one for me.
Carla España 35:24
So, I mean, I can think of like a dinner party I wanna party with like, you know, 20, 30 poets 'cause this is what I, every day I am like reading and engaging with poems and poets. So there's so many. But I think right now, just thinking about the moment where I am in my life now as an educator and-- and the poet that I've been engaging and my students have been engaging and I'm looking forward to over the break to read one of their books is Safia Elhillo, who's a Sudanese poet based in DC and Home is Not a Country, their YA novel and verse is one of my favorite books of all time. I-I showed her Ted animated poem to my seventh and eighth graders. And just, I-I just think like, I would love to-- to talk about their-- to get to know like the process, to get to know also their experiences that have shaped their poems. So the book that I'm planning on reading over the break is, Is it Girls That Never Die? That's the new one that-- that-- yeah, Girls That Never Die. So that's who I would love to have lunch with just at this moment because that's who I've been like engaging with.
Roberto German 36:37
That's great. That's great. How about you Luz?
Luz Yadira Herrera 36:39
Oh my God. Okay. I have like--
Roberto German 36:42
Luz, sometimes people be stressed when I ask this question.
Carla España 36:48
Then also like, we obviously like have to, you know, celebrate your book and have lunch with you. So that's gonna happen at the next conference. Like, I'm like, oh, we are gonna see you. We're gonna see you. But in our like, you know, dream world, those who we-- we don't cross paths with, who [inaudible 00:36:59].
Roberto German 36:59
Luz Yadira Herrera 37:01
So when you said somebody that's dead or alive, I was thinking about, I picked one of each one. One who is, you know, long gone. So [inaudible 00:37:09] I would love to to have lunch with her, to spend time with her. I mean, I remember reading about her like from college and like, I was just such in awe about like, just the way that she-- she's way-- she was way ahead of her time. I mean, of course, you know, she is like perhaps one of our very first more-- more notable feminists. And I just, you know, the way that she's, you know, basically pursued, became a nun because she wants to be able to study. And just like that intellectualism, like that's just such a draw for me. And so I just, I would love to be able to have that con-- conversation with her about just everything. About her experiences growing up in that time in Mexico. And-- and so I would-- I would pick her, which is like a really strange choice. But yeah, I think that somehow, like I'm-- I've always been drawn to her.
Carla España 38:05
I don't see it as strange. I totally see, I'm like, 'Oh yeah, I can see Luz having like lunch with [inaudible 00:38:09]. So like that totally makes sense to me.
Luz Yadira Herrera 38:11
I even looked up. I'm like, is she a Gemini? She has to be a Gemini, but she's not. It's incredible.
Roberto German 38:18
That's great. I love when folks mention individuals that have not been mentioned in previous interviews, and both of you did that today. So what is a message of encouragement that you want to offer our listeners?
Luz Yadira Herrera 38:40
I think I'll start. So, and I-I feel like I keep kindq chiming in on this every chance we get a-- every chance we get. But there's so much happening all of the time. And specifically in education, right? We were struggling in the last couple of years so much with the banning of books and just like the limitations that we've been, you know, that are imposed in certain states about how teachers can teach things like history, right? And so I just wanna, I don't know, I just wanna just acknowledge that struggle and we-- we spoke about it in several sessions at NCTE with several authors and educators and everybody, you know, is sort of grappling with that right now. So I just kinda wanna say that, you know, we-- I'm just really happy to be able to be in a time and a place where we can have many different platforms to share and be able to access the books that we can and-- and hopefully figure out ways to-- to remove all of these kinds of like, you know, barriers to accessing the books that our children need in our classrooms everywhere.
Roberto German 39:56
Yeah, that's real. That's real. Thank you. Carla.
Carla España 40:00
I think for me, I've been thinking a lot because I made the transition from teaching middle grade last year and I was teaching higher ED grad school before that. Before that was middle school. So I've gone like middle school adults and I'm back to undergrad now with adults. And I think in this transition, what I've been thinking a lot about is how my work is sustainable. Like, I can continue in this fight because I feel nurtured by the communities I engage with. And so if you hit a point that you're not feeling nurtured, maybe whether it's 'cause if it's a toxic work environment or it's the people around you are not nurturing you. I think it's like finding support in-- in making sure you are in a supportive teaching environment or finding communities where, whether it is at conferences that we connect with poets like you, you know. Or I have weekly stand in Zoom writing sessions with Luz and I get to like bounce off of ideas and-- and work together. So we need that for this to be sustainable. We're not-- this-- these are not easy times to be an educator. And so I-I really want to send that message of encouragement that you should not feel like I'm gonna do this on my own 'cause you-- you can't. And try to find the places and people that'll nurture you.
Roberto German 41:20
Essential. Essential. Thank you both. Thank you both. Where can folks follow you?
Luz Yadira Herrera 41:28
You can find us on Instagram @En Comunidad Collective. And we're also on Twitter. I'm @DRA_ Luzyadira.
Carla España 41:39
And I'm @profesoraEspaña.
Roberto German 41:44
And again, make sure you support their work. Get a copy of En Comunidad: Lessons for Centering the Voices and Experiences of Bilingual Latinx Students. Amazing text by the dynamic doctoras. Gracias.
Carla España 42:06
[inaudible 00:42:05] It's an honor to have read your poem. So thank you for giving us that like preview and to try out the activity 'cause that's what this is about, right? It's living-- it's living the work. So appreciate your take on this.
Roberto German 42:17
Thank you. Well, we will have to get together again, whether at a conference for-- for coffee and-- and connecting and-- and sharing poetry or back on the platform to get into another chapter of your book. But keep up the amazing work. I'm certainly encouraged by it. So if you haven't heard that today, you did now. Peace be with you. As always, your engagement in Our Classroom is greatly appreciated. Be sure to subscribe, rate the show and write a review. Finally, for resources to help you understand the intersection of race bias, education, and society, go to multiculturalclassroom.com. Peace and love from your host, Roberto German.