Poetry, Performance, and Power through the Arts: Meet WordPlay's newest Teaching Artist

Driven to fight for cultural equity, decolonizing the arts, and social justice.

Serendipity, poetry, and an open door. One late fall day in 2017, Carlos García León was walking by WordPlay's writing center in Northside. "Through the glass, I noticed someone holding their phone and speaking. I knew that pose. I had done it many times at open mics. They were having poetry there, and instinctively, I grabbed my partner’s arm and went inside. WordPlay was so welcoming, they invited me in, asked me to participate, and I was more than happy to be a part of that day’s activities. From that day on, I tried to attend WordPlay events as much as I could, but that beginning really felt like a fateful moment meant to be."

Carlos (he/they pronouns) is a spoken word artist and a poet, titles that they are still getting accustomed to. Their admiration for poetry came in high school, as part of the forensics team, or the competitive public speaking club. One of the events was poetry, and eventually their speech coach told Carlos to participate in that event.

"It was wonderful because you could pick your own poetry and make a program out of pieces based around a concept or theme. It went beyond what was taught in English classes, which was nice. Additionally, I got to hear a lot of other poetry from competitions, too.

"However, my own attempts at writing poetry didn’t begin until my junior year of college. It started as an exercise given to me by my therapist at the time as a way to express emotions in a different way. So glad that she did. My writing at the beginning was really just ways to talk about my experiences as a queer Mexican person in a very white and hetero world. I also had a group of friends that, thankfully, encouraged me to attend open mic nights. Since then, my writing has grown from those experiences, from various workshops, and lot of feedback. While my writing is still very much about my own personal feelings and emotions, I also hope it serves as representation for some and a method to fight for social justice through the lens of who I am as a person and the experiences that have shaped me. "

Carlos shares that they are a queer, non-binary, Latine, Mexican-Statesian spoken word artist, and also currently the Individual Giving Manager for Cincinnati Opera. Carlos’s written work has been published nationally through Poetry Spoken Here and in multiple publications of the LA Zine, Young Ignorantes. Locally, they were published in the Postcards from the Pandemic and still attend open mics virtually. Their work, both in the arts and through writing, is driven by a fight for cultural equity, decolonizing the arts, and social justice. Outside of working and writing, Carlos likes to stream TV and movies, read a good book, learn German, take naps under their weighted blanket, drink milkshakes, and look for the next poncho to add to their collection. Carlos holds dual master's degrees from the University of Cincinnati, in Business Administration from the Lindner College of Business and in Arts Administration from CCM.

As 2021 begins, Carlos will be coaching teens preparing for the spring 2021 Louder Than a Bomb poetry slam, and then will continue with WordPlay leading teen poetry and performance workshops as we carefully enter back into the realm of in-person programming later in the spring and summer.

Carlos adds, "Writing, performing, and educating others are things that bring me happiness, so I reached out to WordPlay to see if there was a possibility to do any of the three things. Much like the first time I found WordPlay, this opportunity to be a teaching artist and get to do all three felt like fate. I look forward to growing as a person, but most importantly, being able to help shape these students in their abilities through their writing and performing, much like my own speech coach was to me. These invaluable skills have without question made my life a much better one, and I cannot wait to see the students grow. "

Welcome, Carlos! We are humbled to have you join our team of creative leaders.

248 views2 comments

Recent Posts

See All