Comunidad is a beautiful thing in San Anto culture. Our definition of community continues to widen as we work to include all cultures to portray a more realistic picture of the world we live in. Last week, we had the opportunity to witness one such event at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center on February 17, 2022, A Poetry Declaration and Language Celebration, which focused on expressing the intersections of migration, justice, and human rights. The event was organized by City Immigration Liaison Tino Gallegos and community activist Jen Yáñez-Alaniz featuring a diverse lineup of speakers, poets, artists, educators, and musicians including: Ms. Saghar Roshan, Mrs. Nazli Siddiqui, Dr. Jasmina Wellington, Mr. Lahab Assef Al-Jundi accompanied by Mr. Ananda Nadayogi, Dr. Octavio Quintanilla, Dr. Haetham Abdul-Razaq, and Dr. Carmen Tafolla. Dr. Lopita Nath emceed the beautiful affair where the audience was immersed in poetry of different languages, along with the respective English equivalence.
We were honored to hear noted Iranian poet, Roshan who read in Persian/Farsi. Writer, poet, and educator, Siddiqui graced us with her work in an extraordinary combination of languages including Arabic, Urdu, Farsi. Pashto, Sindhi, and Punjabi. Multiple award-winning journalist, editor, and arts critic, Dr. Wellington gifted us with a portion of a song in Serbian, as well as her poetry. Syrian poet and author, Lahab blessed us with a poem in Arabic while Nadayogi, a South Indian Classical Musician and teacher, played the violin, together creating a beautiful symphony of music and poetry. Educator, author, poet, photographer, and artist, Dr. Quintanilla enlightened us with poetry read in Spanish accompanied by his inspirational art. Advocate and educator, Dr. Abdul-Razaq broadened our perspective on diversity during a Q&A session. Any night celebrating poetry and language would not be complete without San Anto Legend, Dr. Carmen Tafolla, who beautifully wrapped up the night with words of wisdom, and a piece of her own work written in Tex-Mex, also known as Spanglish.
“This is not something we celebrate annually or monthly, this should be a matter of daily practices, because this is who we are,” stated Dr. Abdul-Razaq as we spoke to the audience, which included Mayor Ron Nirenberg.
“Tonight we celebrated the arts, the language, the poetry of San Antonio’s many peoples…We have witnessed the musicality and the depth, and the meaning. Even when we didn’t know the words or didn’t speak that language, we have felt the core of it, which is its humanity,” Dr. Tafolla eloquently concluded.
The emotions of each piece of written work, song, or artwork superseded the language barrier, as we were all one community that night, learning from one another that we are all equal, and that every culture is beautiful and valued.