4 Up-And-Coming RGV Poets to Watch Out For

Words by Abigail Vela 

Poetry helps us express ourselves through words, voice, music, and art. Throughout National Poetry Month, we invite you to appreciate the poets in our communities who share their individual stories with the openness and vulnerability that poetry allows. 

We interviewed seven poets in the Rio Grande Valley to commemorate this month – the following four up-and-coming poets are making their voices heard, writing and speaking from their hearts, and connecting with the local community.

Roman Valentine Alcázar

Roman Valentine Alcázar started his poetry journey in his early middle school years when his English teacher assigned the class to write a poem and found himself writing one after another.  Poetry serves as a way to cope with the world, communicate with others, and stay grounded. Roman recently graduated with a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies in Anthropology from UTRGV and continues to share his poetry on Instagram and open mics. 

How do you express your identity through poetry?

My expression of myself and how I observe the space that I exist in derives from my ever-changing experiences. I am a cancer survivor, having had an 83% chance of expiring. I was only one year and nine months, but the effects of chemotherapy and the countless surgeries have affected the long-term aspects of my life, allowing me to develop an interesting relationship with death and the philosophical nature of the way we as humans exist. As per the chemo, I lost most of my hearing, entirely in my left ear and nearly all of my right ear. My Deafness is also something that is expressed in my poetry, further solidifying my identity within my poems.

Where do you get your inspiration to write?

My inspiration for writing poetry spans a broad range of things. When I started middle school, it was purely a fascination with rhyme scheming and constructing these micro-stories. As I got older and garnered more interest in things like philosophy, mental health, civil rights, and the human condition, I began to see all of those things reflected in what I wrote and still write to this day. I studied anthropology both as an undergrad and as a grad student, and in between that, I studied mortuary science and became a funeral director and embalmer. What it means to be human and death are two glaring themes that you will see when you read my words today. I’m interested in exploring these two themes to attempt to shift the way we think about our identities (especially here in the RGV as Chicanx/Latinx bodies); and the way we think about death, dying, and bereavement, as I feel there are meaningful discussions to be had in that realm. So really, my inspiration comes from the communities around me.

Stevie Luna

Stevie Luna’s journey as a poet began at the young age of 14, at a time of her life when she needed it most. Her English teacher, the late Ms. Garcia, encouraged her to keep writing after reading a poem during a time when Stevie felt severely traumatized and depressed. Ms. Garcia’s ability to cultivate the talent within her saved her life. You can find her poetry @stephanielunapoetry 

Can you tell us more about what motivates you to write poetry?

Poetry means I can make sense of myself, the world, and its inhabitants. 

I resonate with Gloria Anzaldua when she said: “Why am I compelled to write?… Because the world I create in the writing compensates for what the real world does not give me. By writing I put order in the world, give it a handle so I can grasp it. I write because life does not appease my appetites and anger… To become more intimate with myself and you. To discover myself, to preserve myself, to make myself, to achieve self-autonomy. To dispell the myths that I am a mad prophet or a poor suffering soul. To convince myself that I am worthy and that what I have to say is not a pile of shit… Finally I write because I’m scared of writing, but I’m more scared of not writing.”

I write poetry because I have to, because I see no other way out. I write to make sense of myself and others. When I write, I come to certain conclusions or find some sort of truth. I create something that I think is beautiful out of stuff that usually hurts, like heartache or death.

What topics resonate within your poetry? 

Heartbreak, death, love, capitalism, being from the borderlands. 

Inspiration comes from everything and everyone. I love writing about heartbreak the most, I’m not sure why. Maybe because suffering is inevitable, so maybe all of us can relate.

Nathan K.W. Philip

Nathan K.W. Philip always steps up to the stage to boldly share his poems with the community at open mics, his deep voice a wave of calm reverberating throughout the crowd. Nathan began his journey as a poet a year and a half ago and is currently working on a publication of his work. You can find his poetry on Instagram.

What gives you the drive and inspiration to write your poetry?

To me, poetry allows us to say with words what we cannot say with words.

I’m inspired by the things I see, read, and hear. I like to draw from reality to say unreal things.

My work is always informed by my realities as an immigrant, a black man, and a student. I think my poetry is the clearest expression of the way I see the world and life as I live it.

What do you find yourself writing about the most?

My poetry tends to touch on very human things — the loneliness of relationships, the disconnect between how we view ourselves and how others view us, the idiosyncrasies of existence.

Mayanin Rosa

Music and poetry go hand in hand – and such was Roma native Mayanin Rosa’s beginning as a blooming poet in the 6th grade. Her fascination with long and intricate song titles from Fall Out Boy and Panic! introduced her to the magic of figurative language. You can find her poetry on Instagram, where she fuses collage art with her writing, creating beautiful and intricate pieces of work for all to read and admire. 

What does poetry mean to you?

To me, poetry is trying to express a thought or feeling to someone the way you felt it for yourself; transplanting a feeling. It’s making an experience relatable purely through emotion while making the delivery unique to your personality. That’s always my goal, to make my reader feel something. 

Who do you get your inspiration from today?

My influences for writing have (thankfully) matured a bit since I started writing. During my time studying Creative Writing, I came to admire Chicanas like Anzaldua and Moraga, but my favorite writer of all time is Warsan Shire. Through these influences, my writing touches on a range of topics like cultural identity, family, death, love, sexuality, mental health, and relationships.

Celebrate Poetry in the RGV

Everyone is a poet. As long as our hearts have the power to feel, speak, and see the world through each set of unique experiences, we have the power to transmute them into creations. After all, poetry is a universal language that knows no bounds, limits, or borders. 

To celebrate the culmination of National Poetry Month, register to attend this year’s 15th Annual Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival. The festival will take place from April 28 to May 1. We encourage you to find inspiration from our local poets and write your own poem.

Thank you for reading about and supporting our featured poets this month. We look forward to seeing the impact all seven poets will bring and how they may all inspire blossoming generations of poets in the RGV.

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