October 3, 2014 By LatinoLA Contributor
David A. Romero, writer of the nationally-recognized spoken word poem, "Undocumented Football," prepares to travel the country performing poetry and speaking on social issues.
In Philadelphia, with Drexel University, and in New York with Russell Sage College, Romero performs as the featured performer for student poetry competitions known as "poetry slams." In Washington with Bellevue Community College, as well as in New Jersey with William Paterson University, Romero presents a workshop first presented at Cal Poly Pomona, "Last Words: Giving Victims a Voice."
In "Last Words," participants enter and receive a card with the name and information of a victim of a hate crime and/or police brutality. Each story is read aloud. After observing a moment of silence, participants write poems from the perspective of these individuals; often painfully capturing their last moments.
As a poet mostly known throughout Southern California for laugh-out loud celebrations of Latino culture such as "Cheese Enchiladas" and "My Name is Romero," the workshop could be seen as a radical departure from more lighthearted fare.
"When I started performing poetry, what I was focused on most was on telling my story and speaking to what it meant to be Latino (a lot of times with stereotypical machismo and in a very Mexican-centric way). However, as more time has passed, I've become more aware of the responsibility to tell the stories of people of every race, class and gender."
At universities such as Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington and UC Riverside, students have already reacted openly to Romero's pairing of victims of border violence, Brisenia Flores and Anastasio Hernandez-Rojas, with more well-known victims such of hate crimes such as Matthew Shepard and Trayvon Martin.
It's been a long road for Romero; from getting his start at Hollywood open mic Da Poetry Lounge, to learning the ropes from HBO Def Poet Besskepp and coming into his own in the spoken word community of Pomona, Romero has grown from first-time open mic performer to full-time professional spoken word artist.
September marked a significant stage in Romero's career as he was added to Wikipedia, the world's largest encyclopedia.
The poet comments upon his recent successes, "It's hard to believe that a number of years ago I was in the audience staring wide-eyed at Latin spoken word artists such as Mayda del Valle, Gabriela Garcia Medina, and Mark Gonzales; hearing the fire of their words and listening eagerly to their tales of life on the road. Make no mistake; they're in a whole other league, but I'm doing what I can. I have to thank everyone who has ever helped me, and I promise to keep telling the stories that need to be told."