I’ve known César Leonardo de León for a few years now. Not sure how we met, but I’m sure it was one of the many poetry readings we attended. His debut collection Speaking with Grackles by Soapberry Trees became an instant favorite when I read it earlier in the year.
There were moments where I recognize myself – parts of myself, anyway, – in his works. Poems like “Isabel,” “How to Play it Safe at a Texas BBQ,” and “El Mundo” spoke to the younger parts of me. Poems that would have helped me understand how words can break someone just as easily as actions of others could break me. I chose “El Mundo,” the first poem in the collection, as part of the National Poetry Month poster exhibit at the library.
I listened to Assata: An Autobiography for our March Get Lit! BOYBook Club – a decision I made after realizing that I couldn’t discuss Carolyn Cassady’s Off The Road in good faith for our Women’s Month-themed meeting. And I’m glad I did, because this was an excellent book to discuss to celebrate women, especially those within the BIPOC community.
Part of what I loved about this autobiography is how Shakur peppered her poetry within chapters. The poem recited in today’s video is called “Affirmation,” and it’s the opening poem to Shakur’s story.