Acclaimed poet Mayda Del-Valle entertained and recited poetry for students at SLCC on Monday, Sept. 24.
The first Latina to win the National Poetry Slam, Del-Valle was invited to speak as part of Latino Heritage Month, and many of the audience members were members of the Latino Club.
Del-Valle shared the power of self-expression and the importance of telling their stories. She says that if we don’t tell our own story, then someone else will tell it for us.
“We all deserve to express ourself, to tell our story and to tap into the gifts and talents that are unique to us,” said Del-Valle.
Del-Valle is a Puerto Rican from the south side of Chicago and the daughter of immigrants. Now, she travels around the country telling stories her life. She considers herself a girl who likes to write and perform poems, and she feels lucky get to travel doing what she loves.
Del-Valle is on Oprah’s O Magazine “O Power List,” and was chosen as one of “America’s Young Innovators in the arts and sciences” by Smithsonian Magazine.
One of the things she does when traveling is talk to student about the power of self-expression and telling their story and the power of pursuing what you love to do.
“We are often times discouraged from pursuing things that we love to do or that we are passionate about because it is not practical,” said Del-Valle. “Just let that go.”
Del-Valle began writing at the age of 14 as a part of a journal assignment in school. She found that she loved to write and it was a good way to express her feelings.
Some of the stories and poems are about her relationship with her mother, and are very personal. Her goal in sharing them is to give voice to others who may have had similar experiences and are unable to voice them.
Del-Valle won the individual championship of the National Poetry Slam with her poem “Tongue Tactics” about how people talk. Del-Valle wrote the poem after getting mad at a friend who said some accents make people sound uneducated.
She encourages students of all backgrounds to aspire to something more than they are told they can achieve. Del-Valle says that people should strive for more than mediocrity and the status-quo.
“I really believe that we have been put here to do something unique and special that only we can do and nobody else can do it the way we can,” said Del-Valle. “So it is up to us to release those gifts and those talents because we live in a world that needs it right now.”